Wheaton College Graduate School/Open Bible Churches Cohort

Be Inspired. Be Challenged. Be Equipped.

The Open Bible Church cohort is a group of graduate students who choose to grow and learn together through Wheaton's M.A. in Ministry and Leadership. The cohort enables you to learn and grow with other Open Bible Church leaders through a unique program that allows you to stay active in your world. The cohort provides opportunities for study, conversation, and involvement with other participants during classes. You have the opportunity to be part of a unique cohort specifically for Open Bible church leaders where you can earn an M.A. in Ministry & Leadership from Wheaton College Graduate School. You will take classes one at a time together online, with a generous scholarship of 35% toward your tuition for a full cohort.*

*If fewer than 15 students enroll, you will still be eligible for a scholarship of 25% toward tuition.


A cohort is simply a group of people brought together for a common purpose. In a cohort model, students stay together as a group throughout the program, allowing them to develop deep life relationships with other leaders who are hungry to expand their biblical knowledge of Christ and His kingdom. The goal of a cohort is for the group to stay together as a learning community for the entire length of the program.

Great question! We are targeting two primary groups, credentialed ministers and other church leaders. What types of church leaders? Whatever type you are. You may have a title and official responsibility, or you may have an unofficial responsibility of influence. If your pastor considers you a leader in the church, then so do we.

As cultural changes accelerate, we need ministry leaders skilled in theory and practice who are able to make disciples and pursue Jesus’ mission in the world. The M.A. in Ministry and Leadership is built with three core competency areas to train culturally savvy leaders for a life of service: mission, Bible and theology, and leadership.
For Open Bible Churches pastors and leaders, specific courses will include some theological reflection and practical application that is relevant to our specific beliefs, values, and missional approach.

The M.A. in Ministry and Leadership has 42-credit hours of course work and is built on three core competency areas that are essential for ministry.

Mission Core:

The mission core is designed to train ministry leaders to be change agents for the Church and society and lead churches that grow through conversion. 
  • • EVAN 526 Gospel: Theological Perspectives (4)
  • • EVAN 542 Church: Movements and Models (4)
  • • EVAN 545 Culture: Emerging and Global (4)

Leadership Core:

The leadership core is designed to help ministry leaders effectively lead organizations, themselves, and others, using their influence to transform the people and communities around them.
  • • MIN 547 Preaching (2)
  • • MIN 559 Organizational and Leadership Change in Ministry (4)
  • • MIN 558 Personal Development and Leadership in Ministry (4)
  • • MIN 561 Congregational Leadership: Worship, Discipleship, and Care (4)

Bible and Theology Core:

The Bible and theology core is designed to ground ministry leaders with a strong biblical, evangelical foundation so they can thoughtfully engage the world for Christ.
  • • BITH 533 Exploring the Old Testament (4)
  • • BITH 555 Exploring the New Testament (4)
  • • BITH 565 Christian Theology (4)
  • • BITH 566 Foundations for Biblical Interpretation (4)
  • • MIN 692 Comprehensive Exam (0)

The three full-time professors in the program are Ed Stetzer, Rick Richardson, and Rochelle Scheuermann. The Bible and theology core is taught by professors in that department such as Jennifer Powell McNutt, John Walton, Vincent Bacote, and David Capes. Additionally, Wheaton College brings in world-class guest faculty who are experts in particular subject areas.

A 4-credit course generally requires about 6 books worth of reading and about 25 double-spaced pages of papers/projects. On average, students in online classes spend about 10 hours/week engaging with the class and studying.

Nope! The modular and online program allows you to remain in your community and keep your job while earning your degree by taking the majority of classes online.

Three valuable one-week intensive/modular courses occur at the beginning, about halfway, and at the end. These allow you to connect and interact in person with faculty, your fellow cohort members, and Open Bible leaders. The intensive/modular format courses begin the semester online with introductory assignments, then continue with a 6-day on-campus intensive portion, and finish with papers and/or projects for the remainder of the semester (see schedule).

Online courses are either 7 or 15 weeks long and can be done from anywhere! This structure enables students to immediately apply their learning in their current context while earning a master's degree.

Applicants must have completed a 4-year bachelor degree with a minimum of a 2.75 GPA in most any subject from an accredited school. Specific application requirements can be found on the Wheaton website.

You pay the tuition for one course at a time, as you complete the program. Payment plans are available, and each course must be paid for before you can sign up for the next course. Since the tuition rates are different in Summer vs Fall and Spring and may change in the future, the exact final cost of the degree cannot be determined.

However, because of the partnership with Open Bible Churches, if you join a cohort of at least 15 Open Bible students, you will receive a 35% tuition discount. That will amount to a savings of over $9,000 from standard tuition.

In order to keep the pace of this M.A. program manageable for extremely busy people, we have chosen a degree sequence of 4 credits each semester, usually one course at a time. This means qualifying students would be eligible for financial aid in the summer semester. The government requires a student to carry a certain credit load to be eligible for financial aid (4-credits in the summer semester and 6-credits in the fall and spring semesters). You will need to consult with the Student Financial Services office to learn about personal eligibility qualifications.

Most students order their books from an online retailer. Many, but not all, of the books are available in electronic form. The average cost of books for a 4-credit course is $120.

The program does not begin until Summer of 2019, so tuition has not yet been set, and regulations do not permit colleges to release tuition estimates. However, you need to know how to plan so you are welcome to call President Randall Bach, who will be pleased to share with you what he believes is a fair approximation of your tuition cost (as of this time, Wheaton College does not charge fees in addition to tuition). His calculation will provide an informed although not official estimate of your anticipated tuition cost. Of course, you will also need to plan for your own travel expenses for the three on-site courses.

Open Bible Churches will contribute a $250 grant toward each enrolled and registered student in the cohort, payable to the college. Additionally, some regions have grant assistance funds available for cohort enrollees. Contact your regional director for more information. Also, it is hoped some churches are willing to invest in their pastor’s M.A. education with scholarship assistance. Please see President Bach's video and downloadable letter below for church board members and elders.

Students who need to miss a class in the cohort schedule must get advanced approval from their advisor and work out a method to make up the course credits.

There are affordable housing options available in campus apartments and dorms for the two on-site Wheaton courses that begin and end the program. You may also sign up for a meal plan that provides access to Anderson Commons.

More Questions?

Contact graduate.admissions@wheaton.edu. You are also welcome to contact President Bach to discuss your desires.

“Each of us, working together, can use our leadership influence to transform the people and communities around us.”

—Ed Stetzer

A Message to Church Board Members and Elders

Download the PDF version of the Message to Church Board Members & Elders here.

Why a Master's Degree?

MSG Ad Wheaton cohort Tammy-300px

“Completing a Master’s Degree in Intercultural Studies was one of the best investments I made in ministry and myself. The studies challenged my thinking, deepened my understanding of my mission and God’s Word, and fostered relationships with people I never would have known had I not studied with them.”

Tammy Swailes, Open Bible missionary, Eastern Europe

"Seminary provided me a fleeting glimpse of the scope of God’s kingdom across time and geography. It is vast, and its heroes are beyond count. To be invited into that Kingdom is very humbling, and humility is essential for Christian leaders."

Pastor Bart Bentley, Journey Church Ministries, Loves Park, Illinois

“Achieving the education goal of a master’s degree has equipped me to think at a higher leadership level – not because I know more, but because I understand how to move a church in a more defined direction. I believe I can be more strategic in thinking, planning, and implementation.”

Pastor Dwight S. Rodgers, Hope Church, Largo, Florida

“Even though I felt a divine call on my life for ministry, I never wanted to feel “trapped” by an education that did not have the potential to open doors for me outside of the local church. For me, it seemed to make the most sense to pursue a Master’s of Education degree in counseling, which has not only helped me in my pastoral duties but has also opened many other doors over the years.”

Pastor Monte LeLaCheur, Turning Point Open Bible Church, Spokane, Washington

Upon graduating from Florida Bible Institute, Billy Graham began ministry as a pastor. While pastoring, he recognized a need to add breadth and depth to his education, so he enrolled at and graduated from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. Billy went on to become the greatest evangelist in history in terms of numbers of people reached with the gospel. View the rest of his story here.