“Johnson University educates students for Christian ministries and other strategic vocations framed by the Great Commission in order to extend the kingdom of God among all nations.”
From mathematics to ministry, each of our academic programs supports our mission, integrates our faith, and prepares students for lives of meaningful service to God and others. Here are a few of the undergraduate degree programs that exemplify our distinctive approach to higher education.
The Bible and Theology Major: A Vital Distinctive
by Steve Cook, Dean of the School of Bible and Theology
The expanded mission statement of Johnson University says the institution “strives to be faithful through twenty-first-century methods to its historic purpose of preparing students to preach the gospel.” In accordance with this aim, an undergraduate program at Johnson University consists of three main parts: a Bible & Theology major, an Arts & Sciences core, and a professional major. Each of these components in its own way equips and prepares students to fulfill the Great Commission in a twenty-first-century world.
In a bachelor’s degree program at Johnson, the standard Bible & Theology (B&T) major consists of 11 courses (33 credits) that center directly on the Bible and biblical/theological teaching. Students progress from introductory courses in the Old Testament, New Testament, and theology to more specific courses in biblical interpretation, individual books of the Bible, and particular theological topics. The curriculum culminates in a study of the book of Acts with an emphasis on its missional and vocational implications.
Through the B&T major, the faculty at Johnson seek to accomplish at least three aims. First, we seek to give every student an engaging and transforming encounter with God’s word. Since Scripture is God’s instrument to renew and transform us, study of the Bible helps students mature both intellectually and spiritually. B&T courses at Johnson offer an approach to Scripture that integrates heart and mind and fosters spiritual formation.
Through rigorous engagement with the Old and New Testaments, students come to deeper understandings of their Creator, their Savior, and the Holy Spirit who sustains them and produces virtue in their lives. They see more clearly their own need for salvation as well as the urgency of making disciples of all nations. Further, they develop a well-informed faith that can sustain them through the challenges of life.
Second, the B&T major provides a Great Commission emphasis in accordance with Johnson tradition and heritage. In addition to the personal, inward focus mentioned above, the B&T major develops in students an outward focus as they learn to see the world through the lens of a biblical worldview. Alongside their training for various career directions, students are continually confronted with the calling of Christ to follow him through a life of service and sacrifice. Accordingly, they will consider how their various career options can become opportunities to carry the gospel to a lost world. A JU education thus challenges students to pursue a vocation not merely as a way to make a living but also as a strategy for extending the kingdom of God.
Third, the B&T major at Johnson provides a common experience for all undergraduate students. Since our ongoing commitment is that every bachelor’s degree student will graduate with this major, this feature of our curriculum aims to produce effective kingdom workers of a variety of vocations and professions. The B&T major thus serves as a unifying rallying point for the whole student body regardless of professional major.
The B&T major is, in other words, a common experience at Johnson that unites in purpose an aspiring school teacher to an aspiring worship minister, an aspiring business leader to an aspiring Bible translator, or an aspiring family therapist to an aspiring preacher. The collective emphasis on extending the kingdom of God brings the student body (as well as alumni) together as we all work toward this goal.
Throughout its history, Johnson has specialized in training preachers, missionaries, and others who undertake the ministry of the word in church or overseas settings. Without question, today’s Johnson University maintains these emphases and continues to prepare ministers and church planters. At the same time, however, we also emphasize the priesthood of all believers as well as the conviction that Christians of all vocations have inestimable value in their potential to extend the kingdom of God among all nations.
Requiring a major in Bible and Theology of all undergraduates is an institutional commitment that involves substantial investment from the University and students alike. But an institution expresses its values and establishes its identity by what it expects, where it commits its resources, and how it serves its constituency. For Johnson University, the B&T major represents a connection to our heritage, a challenge to our students, and an avenue of faithfulness in the present and the future. It provides the beating heart for the entire Johnson curriculum as we commit to forming and equipping graduates into followers of Christ who can go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.
School of Christian Ministries
by Jeff Snell, Dean of the School of Congregational Ministry
In January 2023, Johnson’s School of Intercultural Studies (ICS) and School of Congregational Ministry (SCM) are combining to form a new school: the School of Christian Ministries. Based on surface appearances, this transition might seem a mere reorganization or even an effort to deemphasize the distinct contributions of each or either school. Quite the contrary! I’m excited about this proactive and strategic decision as we position ourselves for kingdom impact amidst the challenges and opportunities of this unprecedented era. As these two schools link arms in direct partnership, three features come to mind.
The current ICS and SCM will continue to have distinct faculty, degree offerings, and emphases. The Department of Cross-Cultural Leadership within the new School of Christian Ministries will prioritize global evangelism and discipleship. The Department of Ministry Leadership within the School will focus on equipping pacesetting servant leaders for churches and organizations that serve alongside them. Each will remain faithful to Johnson’s historic commitments as framed by the current JU mission statement.
We are confident the perspectives and values embodied in each department will improve our ability to equip students in our current degree programs. For example, the newly redesigned Bachelor of Arts degree in Ministry Leadership provides space in its core, concentrations, and electives for students to grow in cross-cultural intelligence and awareness. The transferable leadership and teaching skills in that degree will help current ICS students deepen and broaden their influence.
Christian leaders throughout the world are prayerfully exploring the opportunities and embracing the challenges created by multiculturalism and globalization. The combined expertise and experiences within the School of Christian Ministries position Johnson to remain a creative contributor to that conversation. Some of our students will serve in established roles but in fresh ways, while others will have titles and responsibilities that don’t even exist yet. We envision opportunities to equip leaders for the emerging multicultural and bi-vocational church environments, for example. Similar opportunities exist in cross-cultural leadership majors as distinctions between marketplace and ministry are disappearing.
Kingdom leadership has always required biblical grounding, spiritual depth, and relational skill. We are convinced this partnership will help graduates from the School of Christian Ministries demonstrate each of those characteristics with cultural sensitivity and savvy–regardless of where or how they serve.
by Josh Fish, Associate Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences
The psychology program at Johnson University equips students to use the tools of research and scientific inquiry, interpersonal awareness, emotional regulation, and communication for the greater purpose of understanding humans as a reflection of the image of their Creator. Psychology has its roots in the disciplines of philosophy, theology, and pastoral care. The term “psychopathology” derives from Greek terms essentially translated as “the study of soul suffering.” When pursuing an undergraduate degree in psychology, students are taught what it means to work with and come alongside others during their times of suffering. Current student Kaitlyn Holley said, “As a psychology student here at Johnson University, I have grown to become a more passionate Christian while also receiving excellent education and training. I have been stretched to cultivate my own faith in order to develop a posture of empathy for others that strives to show the love of Christ in strategic ways to those I encounter both in and outside of a professional setting.”
One of the unique qualities of Johnson’s psychology program is the heavy incorporation of faith into course content. In reference to the program’s emphasis on spiritual integration, psychology major Casey Cox shared, “You can come away from the classroom setting with a multi-applicable skillset, not just a list of complex concepts to memorize. This approach matters when it comes to acknowledging a human being as a whole while respecting all aspects of the person, so we are prepared to tend to them spiritually and emotionally.”
Graduates from the psychology program have gone on to work as counselors, case managers, and professionals in federal and state agencies, counseling centers, school systems, private nonprofit organizations, hospitals, churches, intercultural mission organizations, and a wide variety of other institutions. This major also prepares students for graduate training in mental health and other social service fields, including the Master of Arts in Counseling at Johnson University. A new addition for our psychology students is the ability to be inducted into Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology, which was founded in 1929 with a mission to encourage excellence in scholarship and advance the science of psychology. The purpose of the psychology program at Johnson University is to produce competent, well-trained, and passionate followers of Christ who will make an impact in this world for the kingdom.
by Catherlyn Brim, Dean of the School of Business and Public Leadership
The uniqueness of our undergraduate and MBA degrees centers on the concept of “marketplace ministry,” which recognizes that Christians who work in secular industries have vast opportunities to disciple others to extend the kingdom of God. Marketplace ministry acknowledges that in addition to working at churches, Christians can work in various industries and effectively model their faith in those workplaces. The School of Business and Public Leadership faculty is intentional in their effort to integrate Scripture into each course and discuss its relativity to the work Christians are called to do in all industries.
The School of Business and Public Leadership students are prepared academically, professionally, and spiritually for the demands of the 21st-century workplace. While employers are increasingly seeking individuals who have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to improve their competitive positions within their respective industries, even higher on their list of qualifications are individuals who are ethical. Because our faculty are Christian practitioners of their disciplines, we approach and teach all courses with a Christian perspective, thus addressing the need for skilled and ethical employees. Our relevant and challenging academic curriculum effectively bridges the gap between classroom learning and real-world scenarios. In essence, we teach our students how to succeed in business God’s way.
This fall, the School of Business and Public Leadership implemented a revised undergraduate curriculum that includes a course in international business, a course in leadership, and an internship. All students majoring in business administration can also add a concentration in entrepreneurship, management, marketing, or sport management or opt to take 12 credit hours in general electives. A revised curriculum was also implemented this fall for the MBA program, which provides an option for graduate students to concentrate on coursework for high-demand areas. The concentrations are entrepreneurship, healthcare management, human resource management, leadership, management, and marketing.
Sport & Fitness Leadership
by Trevor Egli, Professor of Sport and Fitness Leadership
The Sport and Fitness Leadership (SFIT) program offers students the opportunity to explore the field of kinesiology from a Christian perspective. Students are challenged to critically examine and develop their personal theology of sport and fitness across the entire curriculum during their tenure at JU. All SFIT faculty members expose students to the most current and relevant research within their studies, as well as many hands-on and experiential learning activities. This is highlighted by an internship where students serve in a context that aligns with their passions and career goals.
Recently, the SFIT program recommitted to providing students with additional cross-cultural experiential learning opportunities. For example, this past year, Dr. Landon Huffman (SFIT faculty) co-led a trip with Jonah German (class of 2018) to the Holy Land to host a three-day basketball camp for the youth of Jericho.
Four Royals women’s basketball players joined Dr. Huffman to serve as coaches and assist with camp operations, which served more than 70 boys and girls. When not coaching the campers, the group engaged in many cross-cultural experiences and toured several holy sites in Israel and the Palestinian territories, including the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the ancient city of Capernaum and Mount of Beatitudes by the Sea of Galilee, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Western Wall, and Temple Mount site at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Additionally, Dr. Huffman was able to pilot research and collect data on the role of sport, hope, and community development which he presented at a conference hosted by Baylor University as well as at the Third Global Congress on Sport & Christianity hosted in Cambridge this past August.
Experiences like this provide both faculty and students opportunities to live out what they are learning in the classroom in order to extend God’s kingdom.