Studying World Christianity and Mission in a University Setting
Boston University (BU) is the fourth-largest private university in the US, with close to 32,000 students and more than 2,600 faculty members. It is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research and has one of the largest populations of international students of any American university. The legacy of its Methodist roots is reflected in the university motto: “learning, virtue, piety.”
The School of Theology is proud of having the oldest continuous graduate degree program in mission studies in an American university.
The study of world Christianity and mission is greatly enhanced in the context of a research university:
BU’s 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes are central to the school’s research and teaching mission. In addition to taking courses with faculty in the School of Theology, students are encouraged to take courses in a variety of university departments including Anthropology, Religious Studies, History, Theology, and Sociology. The African Studies Center at BU is the second-oldest center of its kind in the United States; it maintains a major African studies library. Together with the Center for Asian Studies and the Center for Latin American Studies, significant faculty resources exist for African, Asian, and Latin American languages, history, anthropology, archeology, and religions.
Boston University gives students access to study at other world-class institutions. Through the Boston Theological Institute (BTI), students may also enroll in courses at Andover-Newton Theological School, Boston College (BC) Department of Theology, Episcopal Divinity School, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Harvard Divinity School, Hebrew College, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, St. John’s Seminary, and Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry.
Students of mission and world Christianity at Boston University have access to an excellent research library system, as well as to library resources in the metropolitan Boston area. Library facilities in a research university are far superior to those of most free-standing theological seminaries and the resources available at Boston University are exceptional:
- The School of Theology Library – 138,000 volumes and 625 periodical subscriptions
- Boston University Libraries – 5.7 million volumes and thousands of subscriptions
- BTI Libraries – 1.5 million volumes and numerous subscriptions
The size of Boston University, and the cross-disciplinary nature of world Christianity and mission, means the subject can be pursued through four different PhD programs at the university.
The School of Theology offers three degrees: a student may earn a PhD in History and Hermeneutics, with a concentration in Mission Studies; a student may earn a PhD in Practical Theology, with a concentration in Evangelism and Missiology; or a student may earn a PhD in Missiology–offered in conjunction with Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
In addition, the Graduate Division of Religious Studies offers a PhD in Religious Studies, which includes the study of world Christianity through its texts and traditions.
Some overlap may exist between the four programs, but ultimately each one cultivates the particular skills relevant to its discipline. Before someone applies, a prospective student should explore how he or she wants to approach world Christianity and mission at Boston University.