The Master’s University: A Look Back at 90 Years

John MacArthurThe Master’s University (TMU) first opened its doors as Los Angeles Baptist Theological Seminary (LABTS) in 1927, with 24 students and no permanent campus.

With a passion for biblical inerrancy and sufficiency, the faculty and administration willingly forwent salaries and sold their land to keep the seminary open during the first few years. They weathered the Great Depression, World War II, and the tumultuous postwar years, trusting that God would see them through.

By 1933, LABTS had moved from a temporary location on the campus of Calvary Baptist Church to their first permanent home at the Kaspar Cohn Hospital in Los Angeles, and then to another building in Boyle Heights in 1942. In the following years, the seminary experienced a record amount of growth, launching its first Bachelor of Arts program in 1946 to accommodate the WWII veterans coming home and looking for a college education. The college division of LABTS was officially established in 1950.

The school grew so much during this period that by the mid-fifties, the Boyle Heights location could no longer accommodate them.

In searching for a new home for the school, Dr. John Dunkin – two years after inauguration as the school’s president in 1959 – found a 27-acre piece of land in quiet Placerita Canyon, more than 35 miles away in the Santa Clarita Valley, on the property of Happy Jack’s Dude Ranch. By 1977, it became home to the school’s 375 students.

According to TMU’s historical account, Dunkin’s 26-year presidency included the addition of many undergraduate academic programs, including History, English, Music, Biology, Business Administration and Physical Education between 1964 and 1977. In the midst of this expansion, Dunkin and the student body came together on March 3, 1975, to celebrate another important milestone: accreditation. Only a couple years shy of its 50th anniversary, the school had received official accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

When Dunkin announced his resignation in 1984, the school’s Board of Directors began to search for a qualified successor, which they found in Dr. John MacArthur, Pastor of Grace Community Church. Though MacArthur was not a part of the Baptist denomination, he was in complete agreement with the college’s doctrine and statement of faith and agreed to assume the position in 1985, while maintaining his pastorate and Grace to You radio ministry. That same year, the school’s name was changed to The Master’s College, a joint decision of MacArthur and the Board of Directors, who agreed that the school should become nondenominational.

One year after MacArthur’s inauguration, the student population nearly doubled in size to 600. Today it continues to grow. MacArthur has remained the longest serving president in the college’s history, overseeing another large academic expansion, including the addition of two Master’s degree programs; an extension campus (IBEX) in the vicinity of Jerusalem, Israel; a degree completion program for working adults; and an online degree program available to Christians around the world.

TMU is currently enjoying a 10-year accreditation awarded through WASC; The Wall Street Journal recently recognized the school as #1 Right Choice University among all U.S. colleges/universities for the second year in a row; US News and World Report consistently ranks TMU among the country’s best universities; and Princeton ratings and others also give witness to its high quality of education.

Most recently, TMU announced that, effective fall 2018, the new annual tuition will drop approximately 26%, from $33,600 to $24,950.

The goal of this tuition reset is to enable many more students to benefit from the TMU experience.

"All of this excellence falls short if we do not make our unique education and opportunity possible for many more eager followers of our Lord,” MacArthur told the TMU student body before announcing the Board’s decision to decrease tuition.

MacArthur said in his announcement a reduction of this size opens the door to many young people who previously believed an education at TMU was not attainable and “allows the university to multiply the lives that can be prepared for Kingdom influence.”

The school is committed to offering the absolute best and most rigorous academic, social, and spiritual training at a cost not commensurate with living and operating in Southern California.

By NRB Staff

Published: November 16, 2017

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