Earn a Quality Master's Degree in Bible for Under $3,000 without Leaving Your Ministry

Questions about the Master's Degree

Here are some relevant questions and answers about the Sunset Graduate School:

What is the overall requirement and scheduling format of the MBS?
The MBS requires a candidate to complete 36 hours. Twelve hours are completed as follows:
  1. You will attend two Intensive Weeks at the Lubbock campus. Each Intensive Week will contain two courses. One class will meet from 8:00 AM to 12:00; the second class will meet from 1:00 PM to 5:00. Each class will cover 20 hours of study during the week.
  2. Prior to coming to Lubbock for the Intensive Week the student will complete some pre-assignments before coming to class. The course professor will send these assignments to the student 30 days before the class meets. This insures that the student will be ready for the class.
  3. As of now, we plan to schedule two Intensive Weeks each year, one in the spring and one in the fall. Twelve (12) hours must be earned in resident studies for the MBS.
  4. After the Intensive Week the student will have 60 days to complete all assignments, unless the course professor approves a different schedule.
How will the additional hours for the master’s degree be earned?
  1. Prior to coming to Lubbock for the Intensive Week each student will complete the Introduction to Graduate Studies. This three (3) hour course will be completed at home.
  2. There are five (5) In-Ministry courses (15 hours credit). These will be completed in your ministry setting. Most of these involve research, ministry projects, textual studies and relevant ministry assignments. Your present ministry will be your “laboratory” of study. You will do what you study and study what you do. Each In-Ministry course will require about 90 days for completion.
  3. The final six hours of course work for the MBA degree will be either a thesis (6 hours credit) or two alternative-to-thesis courses (6 hours credit). The choice between these two alternatives is an important one, and it may affect what courses need to be taken. If the thesis route is chosen, the thesis subject should be submitted and approved about half-way through the MBS course of study.
What are the requirements for being accepted in the MBS program?
The applicant for the MBS must possess an acceptable college-level bachelor’s degree. Those who have a bachelor's degree in Bible will be eligible for admission with little or no pre-admission work (leveling). Those who have a non-Bible bachelor's degree will likely be required to take several leveling courses through SIBI in order to bring their basic Bible knowledge up to the desired level before admission to the MBS program.

Special Students
Students who are interested in taking selected classes offered in the graduate school but who are not interested in pursuing a degree are welcome. You will be granted the greatest leeway in the courses you choose and in the assignments and tests you take. Tuition must be paid for these courses. If you should later choose to pursue a graduate degree through SIBI, successfully completed courses may be converted to credit status. Please contact the SIBI Graduate School office in order to enroll in these classes.

May I enroll in the MBS while I am doing the Ministry Leveling Courses required of Sunset graduates to receive a BBS degree?
You may be accepted to the MBS program on probation. However, you must complete the required leveling courses prior to the beginning of your second campus Intensive Week.
What if I already have a master’s degree?
If you have an approved master’s degree with acceptable hours in Bible and related subjects, some of these hours may be transferred to our MBS. No more than twelve hours will be accepted.
May I enroll in the Sunset master’s program if I have the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree from a school of preaching or Bible institute other than Sunset?
If you have an earned bachelor’s degree or are within 12 hours of earning a degree from an approved school you may be eligible to enroll. You are encouraged to contact us to discuss your case.
How long will it take me to complete my MBS?
The earliest you could to complete your degree is in two (2) years. You are allowed six (6) years to complete it.
What is an acceptable grade-point average to graduate with the MBS?
The grade-point average must be a B. No grade below a 60% will be acceptable for any course and the overall GPA for the MBS program must be at least 80%.
What are the costs for the MBS degree? (It should be noted that some congregations are willing to help their minister with continuing education costs such as these.)
The current costs for the MBS are as follows:
  1. Course Cost of $75/hour, currently $2,700 for 36 hours.
  2. Graduation fees:  $75.00
  3. Books and required materials: budget between $75-$100 for most classes
  4. Travel, food and lodging expenses for intensive weeks
Is there a payment plan for the MBS degree?
Classes are paid for as you take them. A typical 3 hour class is $225.
How do I enroll and what is the deadline?
You can register online or contact the SIBI office in Lubbock. The Spring Intensive Week is in February and the Fall Intensive Week is in October. You must be registered 2 months prior to complete the requirements.  See specific deadlines in the Graduate School Calendar.
How many students must be registered before the Intensive Week is conducted?
A minimum of three (3) students must be approved and enrolled before an Intensive Week is conducted in Lubbock.
Will Intensive Weeks be conducted other than in the spring and fall?
Yes, this will be a possibility based on the needs and demands of students.
What two courses will be offered in the Intensive Weeks?
The two courses scheduled for each Intensive Week:
  • Spring Classes 
    1. Preaching in the Twenty-first Century, taught by Jim Harris, D. Div.
    2. The Theology of Christian Counseling, taught by Gary Walker, Ph.D.
  • Fall Classes
    1. Advanced Hermeneutics, taught by Jim Harris, D. Div.
    2. Advanced Apologetics, taught by Kirt Martin, Ph.D.
How does a Graduate Studies Program fit into the purpose of Sunset?
Our primary motivation is to keep our graduates studying, growing in ministry and to keep them sound in faith. Over half of preachers for Churches of Christ are signing up for Master’s degrees somewhere. Sunset graduates in recent years are not exceptions to this. We started the Master of Biblical Studies program to provide our guys with a very sound and Biblically centered Master’s Degree. Our faculty are all SIBI grads whom we trust as sound in faith.
Why do you charge to earn a Master’s Degree when the Bachelor’s Degree program is tuition free?
The resident school of preaching does not charge tuition because our students cannot work while they complete 4 years of college level studies in two years. All of our MBS students are gainfully employed – most as preachers in local congregations. Most guys earning Master’s Degrees in some of the colleges will pay from $15,000 to $30,000 for a Master’s Degree in Bible. Our tuition is a very modest figure, well under $3,000 for the entire 36 hour degree. Some students have education allowances from their congregations to help pay for their graduate studies, because those congregations appreciate the quality and soundness of the studies. Most students in the two year program give up jobs, salaries, sell houses and businesses, etc. The program is successful because those who give up so much to be here are committed. IT COSTS OUR SCHOOL OF PREACHING STUDENTS PLENTY TO COME HERE! And it always has. In the case of Master’s studies, the students are not required to give up their ministry jobs, sell their houses, move their families. We feel they need to do something to participate and offset the meager honoraria we give to the teachers who give weeks of their time to teach the courses. That which costs one nothing is probably not appreciated or respected. We want students who are invested in their study of the word.
Is SIBI's Master's Degree Accredited?
In a word, no. It is not as though we are opposed to the government or any sense of accountability, or anything such as that. It is because SIBI has attained its own level of credibility. The reputation of Sunset is beyond question and is internationally known. It is estimated that approximately one-fourth of the preachers currently preaching in the Churches of Christ have their training from Sunset. We do not feel that pursuing accreditation would add anything to the level of credibility that we already have among those whom we seek to serve. We have been authorized by Texas state law to grant degrees within the boundaries of theology, religion, ministry, biblical studies, etc. with the degrees in harmony with these disciplines. As of December 20, 2013, Sunset International Bible Institute is an Affiliate institution of the Association for Biblical Higher Education.  As such, it participates in and contributes to collegial and professional development activities of the Association. Affiliate status does not, however, constitute, imply, or presume ABHE accredited status at present or in the future.

The value of our MBS degree can be seen in the quality of our curriculum, the qualifications of our faculty, and the knowledge, character, and skills gained by our students.