Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education and International Services


Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Erich W. Baumgartner

Second Advisor

Stanley Patterson

Third Advisor

Isadore Newman



The study was prompted by the need for the evaluation of current theological educational programs for preparing students to meet the many challenges of pastoral ministry in a rapidly changing world. However, to date there has been little published research addressing the effectiveness of undergraduate theological education. Furthermore, changes implemented in the theological education program at Southern Adventist University (Southern) have not been evaluated for their effectiveness for ministerial job preparedness.


This descriptive study measured the perceived effectiveness of five professional courses taught in the undergraduate theological educational program at Southern for ministerial job preparedness. A parallel mixed methods design, same sample, involved collecting a multiple-question survey with both Likert-style and open-ended questions from a convenience sample of Southern theology alumni. In addition, data from exit interviews conducted by the Dean of the School of Religion were reviewed for predictors of perceived effectiveness for ministerial job preparedness. Descriptive and inferential statistical analysis, posteriori word coding, and thematic analysis were used to analyze the data.


Eighty-one percent of theology alumni surveyed indicated that the education they received at Southern equipped them for ministry. The alumni responses identified several positive aspects of the current theological educational program at Southern, including hands-on, practical components, and courses taught by professors experienced in pastoral ministry. Suggestions for improvement included condensing the Personal Evangelism course to one semester, and the addition of lectures or courses on conflict resolution and basic counseling skills.


The findings suggest that Southern is effectively preparing its theology majors for pastoral ministry through the five professional courses studied in this research. It is recommended that regular alumni surveys be conducted as part of curricula development and evaluation.

Subject Area

Theology--Study and teaching--Seventh-day Adventists; Southern Adventist University; Clergy--Training of; Seventh-day Adventists--Clergy