Midway through the semester, school administrator Adam Watts was swamped with paperwork. As he worked at his desk, his phone buzzed. He saw an encouraging text message, one of many from a fellow administrator he had met four years earlier during his first graduate summer session at PCC.
“My favorite part of the summer sessions was meeting administrators from other parts of the country and forging new friendships that I still maintain,” said Adam, who just completed his Education Specialist in Educational Leadership this past May.
Each summer, many seasoned teachers, school administrators, and pastors return to Pensacola Christian College and Pensacola Theological Seminary to take a few summer sessions, furthering their knowledge as they earn graduate and seminary degrees.
Dr. Raylene Cochran, academic vice president, said, “The main reason PCC offers on-campus classes during summer sessions is to provide flexible options for graduate and seminary students who are unable to leave their ministries during the school year.”
Students take nine-day sessions, focusing on one class at a time. Many choose to take up to four classes a summer, fitting in classes around their ministry schedules. Although summer sessions are short, faculty fit in the exact same material taught during the semesters.
Many summer faculty actually look forward to the summer’s compact schedule. Dr. Dan Troutman of the Bible department said, “Summer sessions are very different from semester classes. They’re focused and concentrated, making it easier to connect dots. It’s a lot of work to stuff fourteen weeks of a semester into nine days, but it’s a great learning experience to see a whole book or subject at once.”
Many graduate and seminary students choose to combine summer sessions with online classes during the semester. PCC’s online classes allow the students to watch course videos, interact with faculty and other students, and submit projects via Canvas, a web-based learning management system.
Dr. John Reese, an experienced faculty member who teaches online classes, said, “Online courses give graduate students the ability to build their studies around their lives.” By taking online classes each fall and spring and up to four sessions one summer, students can earn a master’s degree in less than two years while still serving in their ministry. In addition, the M.A. in Bible Exposition, Master of Ministry, and M.S. in Educational Leadership, and Master of Business Administration are currently available fully online.
Music faculty Dr. Tim Willingham has taught summer sessions for over a decade, teaching many seasoned music pastors and teachers. “When you’re in the ministry, it’s great to come back and get ideas and get refreshed and encouraged,” he said.
For Darcy Fancher (’02), earning her Master of Church Music degree during summer sessions has allowed her to further her skills in her church. Referencing the conducting class she took this summer with Dr. Willingham, she said, “The one-on-one instruction and the encouragement from my instructor have helped me to achieve a level in conducting I didn’t think was possible, and in turn, have enabled me to pass on some of what I have learned to others at my church.”
Adam also found his skills focused more through the summer sessions. “Iron sharpeneth iron,” he said. “The discussions in class with other students and the teacher taught me to think and debate. I loved being able to knock the classes out so quickly. It made the degree easier to complete.”
After being out of school for over thirty years, Steve Hutcheson decided it was time to earn his Master of Divinity. For the past two summers, he has taken PTS classes to further his understanding of God’s Word. “I really like the summer format—intense but focused!” he said. “By nature, summer sessions are a little less formal and a little more personal. They are a great way to complete a full semester of work in a short period of time!”
An opportunity to complete a degree combined with moments to connect with other Christians make summer sessions a great opportunity for those already serving in ministry.
“My favorite part of summer sessions is the weekly fellowship time held on Wednesdays,” said Dr. Cochran. “I enjoy talking to students and faculty, and the students enjoy getting to know each other a little better. The friendships developed can be beneficial both personally and professionally.”
For more information about earning an advanced degree visit the Graduate Studies program at PCC or Pensacola Theological Seminary.