An analysis of the perseverance of seminary master's degree graduates in professional ministry

Steven Thomas Smith

Abstract

The study examined whether there is a significant difference between seminary master's degree graduates who persevere in professional ministry and seminary master's degree graduates who do not persevere in professional ministry on selected demographic, educational, personal, and employment variables. The sample consisted of 178 master's degree graduates from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in the United States who graduated during the 1996-97 academic year. Of these graduates, 127 (71.35%) were identified as persevering in professional ministry, and 51 (28.65%) were identified as not persevering in professional ministry. The variables investigated in this study were the student's age at the time of receiving the master's degree from the seminary, the gender of the seminary graduates, the undergraduate major of the seminary graduates, the type of undergraduate institution, relevance of the master's degree to ministry position(s) held after graduation, the quality of seminary education as perceived by the master's degree graduate, employment of the student in a ministry position prior to enrolling in seminary, employment of the student in a ministry position while obtaining the master's degree, parental encouragement to pursue a ministry position, and employment of the student in a non-ministry position as a career choice before entering seminary. An alpha level of .05 was used for the Chi-Square analyses and t tests of this study. Tests of the ten hypotheses were conducted using the Bonferroni adjusted alpha level of .005 per test (.05/10). Significance was found on the variables of the gender of the seminary graduates and relevance of the master's degree to ministry position(s) held after graduation.