PALMER — The Alaska Bible College is gearing up to offer an all-new program, a bachelor’s degree of arts in elementary education with a double major in Biblical studies. Enrollment for the new program and others is currently open and students will be able to attend in person or online in the fall semester.

“I think the students are excited to be back, not looking at computer screens,” Alaska Bible College President Dr. David Ley said.

Summer sessions wrap July 24. The campus will reopen to normal capacity when the fall semester begins in August. The college is currently holding three virtual classes this summer due to COVID-19.

Ley said they usually have about 35 students on the campus at a given time with about 50 total students per semester. He said they haven’t seen any major drop off in enrollment. Including adjuncts, there’s typically about 15 total teachers on campus with numbers fluctuating throughout the year.

“We’re a small enough community we can maintain our physical distancing,” Ley said. “We can get back to doing in-person education, which is desirable on all fronts.”

The fall semester ends December 11 and applications are accepted leading up to the start.

The college’s recent spring semester switched to a purely online model due to COVID-19. Students were able to finish their classes and graduates celebrated at the school with minimal occupancy with their families and friends watching via live stream.

“The day the mandate came, we switched everything to online almost seamlessly,” Vice President of Academics Ben Olson said.

Staff members handed out commemorative face masks for the 2020 spring graduates. Olson said many of those grads are now serving locally at various ministries across the Valley.

The Alaska Bible College has been around since 1966. Olson said they bought the building in Palmer in 2011 and made the full move in 2013. Prior to that, it was operated by the Mat-Su Christian School.

Olson noted it was also the original MEA building. He said the campus houses the largest theological library in the entire state with over 33,000 titles.

He said the library is usually open to the public and will resume normal hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the fall semester. Until then, anyone can still call to make an appointment to stop in.

The college offers a range of courses and programs for students from all walks of life. They offer a bachelor of arts in Biblical studies and Christian ministry, a four-year degree with over 10 different emphases to choose from.

Students can also pursue an associate of arts in biblical studies or they can earn one or two-year certificates. Olson noted those certificates are particularly useful for students right out of high school trying to take a productive step forward during those “gap years.”

He said they’ve seen quite a few students use that and move onto a plethora of different paths, some of them even continuing their education at the college. Those who already have degrees can also audit classes on campus.

The college also offers dual enrollment programs for juniors and seniors. Olson said they usually see a significant number of local dual enrollment students, averaging about 10 at a time.

The college is credited with the Association of Biblical Higher Education. Olson said they also work with homeschool families, saying they like to offer a lot of options for students across the state.

He said they’ve been talking about adding the elementary education program for many years, and they’re in the process of gaining regional accreditation. He said they intend to offer more classes down the roads as the first wave of students who are “kind of pioneering” as they make their way through the new program.

“There’s a lot we can offer the community here in Palmer and across the state,” Olson said.

Olson said they’ve already received two applications to the new program. Enrollment for all classes is currently open. Applications can be filled out online.

For more information, call 907-745-3201 or visit akbible.edu.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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