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HPU’s accelerated Christian studies program provides the opportunity to earn two degrees in five years

Dr. Wheelington grad class 2018BROWNWOOD – May 31, 2018 – Howard Payne University’s School of Christian Studies offers its majors the opportunity to complete either a Master of Arts in Youth Ministry or a Master of Arts in Theology and Ministry one year after completing an undergraduate degree.

Students who have completed 75 hours of classes and have a 3.0 GPA are eligible to apply for entry to the accelerated master’s program. In the accelerated program, students take 12 hours of graduate classes as a part of their undergraduate studies. These hours also count toward a 42-hour graduate degree.

Anna Lauren Jeffers is a graduate student in the program set to graduate in December 2018. She is currently serving at West University Baptist Church in Houston as the KidStuff preschool ministry director. Because of this position, she has been able to see how the program is benefiting her.

“I was able to take advantage of the opportunity to work towards my master’s degree while also being surrounded and supported by professors who cared about me as a student, a person and a minister,” said Jeffers. “I am able to be a better minister because of this investment.”

The accelerated master’s program was begun in 2012 to allow Christian studies majors to efficiently earn a graduate degree. At HPU, there is financial assistance available to graduate students in the School of Christian Studies.

“We offer a church match scholarship for grad students,” said Dr. Gary Gramling, professor of Christian studies and director of graduate programs in the School of Christian Studies. “If a church gives $100 per hour, HPU will match that.”

He added that there is an additional benefit for students of the accelerated program. Typically, graduate courses in the School of Christian Studies will include students who are currently serving as full-time ministers in churches.

“When you are in this accelerated program, you are in classes with our other grad students, so you begin to build this great network of fellow students,” said Dr. Gramling. “If you can make some lifelong friends in ministry, they will be a wonderful network of encouragement and support to you in the days to come.”

Another important feature is the focus of the Christian studies faculty, staff and students.

“This is the part in the journey where students get to come and be prepared for what it is God is calling them to do,” said Dr. Gramling. “We do not want you to major in Christian studies unless you sense God has put it in your heart to do that. That is a great thing for us though because we get to welcome in men and women who feel called by God to a certain ministry vocation.”

Jeffers noted the ways her classes in the accelerated program have taught her and encouraged growth.

“I learned valuable lessons in the classroom that challenged me to think deeper and grow in knowledge,” she said. “I also learned equally important lessons out of the classroom about serving and loving people by watching the professors at HPU embody their teaching.”

Applications are still being accepted for the fall 2018 semester at Howard Payne University ( HPU offers a variety of financial aid options, including scholarships for students from Brown County and surrounding counties. For more information about HPU, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at 325-649-8020 or by e-mail at


Cutline: Undergraduate students at HPU have the opportunity to take graduate courses through the accelerated Christian studies program.