A calling in pastoral ministry often requires preparation. The religion courses and concentrations offered by the Department of Religion at Southwestern Adventist University focuses on Biblical understanding, personal application, evangelism, church leadership, and administration to prepare religion students for excellence in ministry.


We use real-world application to balance our classroom work through our School of Evangelism, student pastoring, and the mission field around the world. Education from the Department of Religion at SWAU facilitates the understanding, appreciation, and application of:

  • The Bible
  • A Christian worldview
  • Seventh-day Adventism


More specifically, our theological training involves:

  • A Christ-centered and Bible-based education on campus, in the classroom, and in the community.
  • Our Pastoral Internship Program, which assigns each student to a local church as a student pastor under the guidance of an experienced pastor. This opportunity is for students in their junior and senior years.
  • Our Field School of Evangelism, which trains students to perform a 5-week-long evangelism campaign in one of the Southwestern Union Conferences. 
  • Academic performance, which helps most of our students pass the placement exams for the Master of Divinity Program at Andrews University.
  • Bible interpretation, Greek and Hebrew languages, Biblical preaching, exegesis, and Systematic Theology, which are some of the expertise that we strive to equip our students with by the end of this program.


Freshmen and sophomores are invited to participate in volunteer roles at churches in the surrounding area. These churches will welcome them and assign them to different ministries, such as the Pathfinder club, Sabbath school classes, praise team, sound, and media, or as Bible workers or canvassers. This will help students to confirm their calling as ministers of the gospel.

News & Events

A blurred photo of the university campus showcasing the nursing building, rotunda and the beautiful green grade in between the sidewalks

Southwestern Adventist University Moves to the Cloud with Ellucian

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Equity, Education, and the American Dream

Armando Miranda, Jr. Shares His SWAU Journey

SWAU Hosts Graduation for Class of 2021

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A Living Example

Armando Miranda poses in suit against blue-grey background

Feels Like Coming Home

Dr. Campbell, dressed in a white buttoned shirt and yellow bow-tie, stands in front of his class and holds papers as he begins to hand them out to his students

Southwestern Adventist University Professor Authors New Resource for Discovering All Things Adventist

Graduating seniors throw their caps in the air while being surrounded by proud faculty and staff

Southwestern Adventist University’s Class of 2020

A student and her mother smile, both looking at a a computuer screen as the student does home work.

Southwestern Adventist University Launches SWAU Online


Southwestern Adventist University Strategizes for the Future 

Student Evangelism Leads to Baptisms and Changed Lives

Southwestern Adventist University Establishes Adventist Theological Society Chapter

Southwestern Adventist University To Host Adventist Theological Society Conference

A female and a male student talking with Professor Rico, in front of Barron Chapel, as they read a note card.

The Heart of Evangelism

Knowledge. Faith. Service.


B.A. Religion

Are you looking for a rewarding career guiding the spiritual lives of your community? Then perhaps a B.A. Religion is perfect for you! This degree will help you understand the fundamentals of religion and the diversity of religious perspectives.


B.A. Theology

Are you looking for a rewarding career in pastoral ministry as a church pastor or maybe one day a professor in theology? Then a B.A. Theology may be the perfect choice for you!


Minor in Biblical Languages

Are you looking to add an understanding of Biblical languages to your major? Then maybe you should consider adding a minor in Biblical Languages. This minor would pair nicely with a major in religion, education or communication.

Minor in Religion

Are you looking to add an emphasis in religion to your degree? Then maybe a minor in religion is the perfect minor for you. This minor can be paired nicely with a degree in business, communication, education or psychology.


SWORD Program

The SWORD program is the perfect opportunity for students to get personal evangelistic training. Read more about it by clicking here.


In the Keene Church, two female students hold hands and bow their head as they pray together

Certificate in Church Ministry

Our Certificate in Church Ministry prepares lay leaders for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is a unique church ministry program which combines basic theological education with church history and applied ministerial methods and practices. The curriculum of the certificate consists of courses totaling 15 semester hours of college credit and is designed to help church lay leaders increase their knowledge and skills and be better equipped to work in various positions of lay leadership.

Your Future


With a degree from the Religion department you will be prepared to mentor those in your community and give them spiritual guidance. Every year, conference presidents from the Southwestern Union and other Unions interview many of our SWAU graduates from the Department of Religion.


  • Pastor
  • Church Administrator
  • Bible Worker
  • Teacher
  • Professor
  • Youth Worker
  • Missionary
  • Hospital Chaplain
  • Military Chaplain


percent of our recent religion and theology graduates are working or are in graduate school.

Faculty Profiles

Jorge Rico, PhD

Department of Religion
Professor and Department Chair

Joaquim Azevedo, PhD

Department of Religion

Michael Campbell, PhD

Department of Religion

Buster Swoopes, M. Div.

Department of Religion
Assistant Professor

Michael Gibson, M.DIV.

Department of Religion
Adjunct Faculty

Russ Laughlin, MDiv

Office of Spiritual Development
Vice President

Arthur Chadwick, PhD

Department of Biological Sciences
Paleontology Specialist