A New Kind of Education
Dual Degrees Blend Business and Theology
By Nicole Miller | Photo by Luke Rutan
In 2009, Christal Jenkins was looking for a graduate program. She’d been active in Christian service from a young age, leading Bible studies at her high school and college and later serving on the board of directors for the YWCA. After graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in human centered design and engineering, she’d worked in marketing and research for a software company called Tegic.
“I knew I was doing great things for Tegic,” Jenkins says. “But what I enjoyed more was being able to talk to students and challenge people to see their potential and purpose in life.”
She considered pursuing a master’s degree in business administration; she thought about getting a master’s degree in theology. She told herself, “Okay, here is where the rubber meets the road. You’ve had the corporate experience. You’ve done the ministry thing. Now, you have to figure out which one you want to go with for the rest of your life.”
Jenkins struggled with the choice. “I had always felt that there shouldn’t be a separation between faith and work, that they go together. I told God, ‘You made me this way. Why do I have to choose?’” As it happens, she didn’t.
Jenkins discovered the dual degree program offered by Seattle Pacific University's Seminary and the School of Business and Economics. The program awards two dual degrees: a master of arts in theology — business and applied theology (MA in Theology/ MBA) and a master of divinity with a master of business administration (MDiv/MBA).
In 2012, Jenkins was Seattle Pacific’s first graduate to earn an MA in Theology/MBA. She’s part of a new wave of students seeking to integrate more fully their faith and work.
A dual degree in business administration and theology combines the practical skills of an MBA degree with an exploration of the profound questions about how and why a Christian can find vocation in business. Graduates are prepared to serve in the marketplace as Christians grounded in the Scriptures or as business or finance managers of a church or parachurch organization.
“We equip leaders in the church to think theologically about work and business — and equip leaders in business to reflect theologically on their vocation,” says Doug Koskela, associate professor of theology at SPU.
Now, as a senior lead user experience researcher for BMO Harris Bank, Jenkins says her calling to the marketplace reflects a larger calling to stewardship. “When I’m developing strategy for marketing, I’m asking, ‘How does this align with human flourishing? Are we listening to the needs of the community around us?’ This is what it means to live out my true mission in God.”
Economics and Wesleyan Theology in Creative Partnership: Toward a
Fully Thriving Society April 10–12, 2013
This spring, the Center for Biblical and Theological Education and the Center for Integrity in Business at Seattle Pacific University will host a conversation on the intersection of business, economics, and Wesleyan theology. Sponsored by the Acton Institute, this series of seminars will examine how Wesley’s practical theology, with its focus on the complete integration of life and faith in holiness, can speak to church and lay leaders in its ability to contribute to a flourishing society in the workplace.
Speakers include Bob Doll, a former chief equity strategist with the investment firm Blackrock; Sondra Wheeler, author of Wealth as Peril and Obligation: Possessions in the New Testament; David Wright, provost at Indiana Wesleyan University; Stephen Grabill, research scholar in theology at Acton Institute; and Chris Armstrong, professor of church history at Bethel Seminary.