Bakke Graduate University

Bakke Graduate University


Bakke Graduate University [1] (BGU) is a US accredited graduate school for leaders who are seeking to facilitate positive social transformation of urban areas. BGU includes a school of Christian theology for church leaders; a school of urban studies for non-profit (NGO & NPO) leaders, and a newly forming school of business for leaders wanting to focus on our three primary customer groups, plus help us with how Government leaders in China & Vietnam understand our work. Almost half of BGU’s faculty, students, and course related city immersion tours are outside of North America. The school is named for Ray and Dennis Bakke who in the late 20th century respectively pioneered movements to give decision-making power to people in disadvantaged neighborhoods and front-line employees. As a result, BGU has been able to expand into regions in places such as Asia and Africa by developing platforms for local leaders to have the primary voice in how students in their region are trained.



Bakke Graduate University is named for two brothers:

(1) Ray Bakke – an urban leader who pioneered a community development approach in Chicago in the 1960’s and 70’s that gave decision-making authority to residents of disadvantaged communities rather than government or outside agencies. Additionally Ray was appointed in the early 1980’s to lead an effort[2] initiated by Rev. Billy Graham that involved holding 250 city consultations over 25 years in the world’s largest cities. Ray currently serves as the Chancellor and Chairman of the Regents of BGU.

(2) Dennis Bakke – cofounder of AES Corporation, a socially-responsible electricity company that in the late 1990’s was the world largest independent owner of electricity (after Russia and France). AES pioneered massive carbon-offset programs in the mid-1990s; practiced radical decentralization of decision-making among 40,000 employees in 36 countries; and provided electricity to 100 million people, including developing nations. Dennis’ book JOY AT WORK was number 8 on the New York Times Bestseller list in 2005. [3] Dennis currently serves on the Board of Directors of BGU.

BGU’s offices are located in the heart of downtown Seattle, WA. Founded in 1990 as Northwest Graduate School of the Ministry (NWGS), the school underwent a major transformation in 2001 from a regional school to a global school under new leadership and a new board of directors. The school was renamed in 2005. BGU’s theology school is centered on Biblical studies, in the context of various historical veins with application to ministry to the urban poor. The school is interdenominational with students and faculty from Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, as well as other veins of Christianity. BGU’s business school is rooted in Christian principles and history and asks students to respect this heritage.

University officers

President: Brad Smith formerly served as the President of Leadership Network, a peer-learning organization for North American non-profit leaders founded by Bob Buford under the guidance of management writer, Peter Drucker.
Academic Dean: Gwen Dewey

Unique aspects of BGU

(1) Worldwide courses: Courses are held in some of the world’s largest cities on 5 continents. Cities are selected as laboratories for specific urban issues. Courses include intense city immersion events with peer group and individual reflection.
(2) Part-time: Only master’s and doctorate-level courses are offered, and each of these is offered in a non-residential format, allowing students to continue to live and work in their cities of influence while taking off one to two weeks 2 to 3 times a year for classes.
(3) Diverse student body: 42% of BGU students do not live in North America and include relief, development, government, religious and business leaders involved in social transformation throughout the world.
(4) Practitioner faculty: Faculty include practitioners in non-governmental organizations (NGOs); churches, governments and business as well as seasoned front-line educational leaders also from five continents. International students, faculty and locations create a rich contextualized learning experience.
(5) Peer learning: All assignments are graded by BGU faculty but are written to a student’s personal learning community to encourage peer learning with the student’s leadership team, family and/or friends.
(6) Life-long and informal learning: BGU serves a variety of global urban and business networks and holds both formal and informal educational peer-learning and best practice events providing unique learning experiences for leadership teams, non-students, and BGU alumni.

Mission statement

Bakke Graduate University strengthens leaders who steward resources with and for vulnerable people and places, by means of contextual, Christian-based education innovatively delivered throughout the urban world.


BGU currently offers five degrees:
School of Theology – for Christian leaders:
Doctor of Ministry (DMin) – a 40 hour (3 yr) course of study that hones practical leadership expertise. [4] 2/5 is taken cohort style to build an international peer group. 2/5 involves electives chosen by the student. 1/5 is the dissertation, part of which can be written in popular style for general publication. [5]

Master of Arts in Global Urban Leadership (MAGUL) - a 36 hour (2 yr) course of study that introduces students to a theological foundation and practical skills for ministry leadership in a global urban environment. The program includes a Theological Core, a Perspectives Core, and an Urban Studies Concentration with courses that not only allows students to study the Scriptures through a global urban lens, but also provides a practicum to study the nature and mission of the Church in an international context.

School of Business
Master of Business Administration (MBA) – a 36 hour (18 mo) values-driven degree program for business leaders that takes into account the trends and needs of today’s globalizing world. The program equips students with the core practical business and entrepreneurial proficiencies needed for managing and leading in this global environment, along with a deeper understanding of how Judeo-Christian ethics, social responsibility and worldview influence these proficiencies and skill sets. The MBA program is offered domestically and internationally, and includes concentration options in International Business (“The Ambassador Program”), Non-profit and Non-governmental Organizations, and Indigenous Tribes. Prerequisite courses and tests (including the GMAT, and when appropriate, the TOEFL) are required.

Master of Social and Civic Entrepreneurship (MASCE) – a 36 hour (2yr) course of study for leaders in for-profit (business), non-profit (NGOs, NPOs and churches) and government for today’s challenging, global environment. The program includes a Theological and Contextual Core related to the practice of civic and social entrepreneurship, a Entrepreneurial/ Business Core to give practical tools for organizational management and development, and an Immersion/Application Core to engage in an innovative, entrepreneurial project of the student’s choosing. Prerequisite courses and tests are required.


BGU is accredited by the U.S. Department of Education through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS). BGU is also authorized by the Higher Education Coordinating Board of Washington State.

Reasons given by students for attending BGU

(1) World Exposure: Students want to see firsthand and understand the deeper roots of culture, history and massive changes in various locations of the world. They want the discipline of a guided study program with strategically selected books, topics, and assignments.
(2) Global Relationships: Students want to learn in cross-cultural relationships with an on-going peer leadership network of urban and business experts.
(3) Make a Difference: Students don’t want to continue ‘business’ or ‘church’ as usual. They want a bigger vision of leadership that extends beyond the traditional boundaries of a single organization focused on itself.
(4) New Methods: Experienced urban leaders realize the role of business in addressing urban issues is growing quickly and massively. They trust a school with proven values for the poor which can help them engage this new power in the urban world.
(5) Recall and Retrofit: The last 20 years has seen massive shifts in the world. Students often want a mid-career program that connects them to the new realities of globalization and urbanization.


(Over 42% Non-U.S.)
DMin: 271
MTS: 97


American Baptist Seminary of the West (Berkeley) – Provides part of the DMin program for ABSW MDiv graduates
Denver Seminary - Provides the Urban Track for Denver’s DMin students
Theology of Work Seminary Partnership Grant Program – Provides administration for grants to seminaries teaching theology of work programs
Payne Theological Seminary – Provides part of the DMin program for PTS MDiv graduates
Asian Theological Seminary (ATS)
Center for Transforming Mission (CTS)
Leadership Foundations of America (LFA)

External links


1 ^ LCWE – Lausanne Urban Associates
2 ^
3 ^ DMin focuses on leadership expertise while a PhD focuses on research expertise
4 ^ BGU DMin dissertations must include Turabian styled opening sections, literature reviews and research appendices, but the main sections can be in general published style and format
5 ^ The standard degree for traditional church ministry is the MDiv which usually includes more language courses and pastoral skill courses

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