The Kern Ministry Program seeks to do three things: reduce debt load for ministers, increase hireability by providing local church ministry experience, and create a base of networking opportunities for ministry positions in the future.
Housed within the School of Theology & Ministry, the Kern Ministry Program is a seamless experience in which you will earn a master of arts in Christian Ministries in addition to an undergraduate bachelor of science in Christian Ministries. The undergraduate degree fulfills the academic requirements for ordination within the Wesleyan church and is the primary degree taken by students seeking ordination in other denominations.
By completing the undergraduate degree during the first three years and the master's degree in years four and five, you will leave IWU with a smaller debt-load than peers taking a total of 7-8 years to complete similar degrees. Students accepted into the program are eligible to be considered for the following Kern Scholarships: an undergraduate loan-grant of up to $3,000 per year renewable for three years to help offset additional expenses incurred by taking summer courses and a graduate scholarship of up to $2,400 per semester for years 4 and 5 during the master's portion of the program. All of this combined means students will have less debt load than the average student graduating with only a bachelor's degree.
One of the biggest frustrations a new grad faces is the phrase "experience required." Students exiting the Kern Program will receive over twelve months of hands-on practical ministry experience. In addition to the practical ministry experience every undergraduate Christian ministries student receives, an intense summer internship will be completed during the third undergraduate summer. Finally, you will spend your fifth year in a 12-month residency at one of the churches we have identified as a "teaching church." Upon completion of the program, you can confidently apply for positions requiring experience.
Leaving the college experience and moving into the work force can be intimidating. Upon graduation, friends typically go their separate ways leaving the graduate feeling isolated. The Kern Program is designed to form lasting bonds with other pastoral leaders entering ministry. Kern students take some of their ministry-related courses together, creating a cohort-model feel to the program. If accepted into the program, you will also receive additional mentoring during weekly meetings with the Kern director. We anticipate that Kern students will become leaders among those earning a Christian Ministries bachelor degree. At the very least, the Kern students will have developed lasting friendships with peers, providing a stronger network between congregations that spans both physical and denominational boundaries.