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History of Moody Bible Institute



From its beginning, Moody's education ministry has focused on taking God's Word and applying it to life.

Chicago Evangelization Society and Moody Bible Institute

D.L. Moody's interest in educational endeavors took root in the summer of 1870, when he met Miss Emma Dryer, principal and teacher at Illinois State Normal University. The following year, while ministering to the needs of thousands who were left homeless by the Chicago Fire, Dryer began developing a program of Bible study, teaching and home visitation for young women. 

Mr. Moody persuaded Dryer to stay in Chicago and carry on her Bible work under the auspices of his church. During the next decade, Moody continued his involvement in evangelistic work, and Dryer developed the training program among women in Chicago. At every opportunity she encouraged Moody to start a training school for young men and women.

Early in 1883, several Chicago residents began meeting weekly with Dryer to pray that Moody would return to Chicago and develop the new school. During a Jan. 22, 1886 meeting in Chicago to discuss city evangelization, the subject of a training school again came up. By this time Dryer's persistent message had taken hold in Moody's heart. 

Moody addressed the gathering: 

"I tell you what I want, and what I have on my heart. I believe we have got to have gap-men to stand between the laity and the ministers; men who are trained to do city mission work. Take men that have the gifts and train them for the work of reaching the people." 

Thus the Chicago Evangelization Society, later renamed Moody Bible Institute, was born.

Moody Correspondence School

In January 1901, the Moody Correspondence School was established for "the benefit of those of both sexes who cannot, for financial or other reasons, attend the Institute personally. The purpose is to give them, as far as possible, all the advantages of the systematic methods of study pursued here." 

The school started with two courses: Bible Doctrine and Practical Christian Work. Both courses were written by Moody's second president, R.A. Torrey. The number of courses grew steadily from 1901 to 1945, and by the end of 1945, there were 17 courses available.

Today, correspondence courses are known as Independent Studies, and can be taken for personal enrichment or for credit towards a college degree. Moody Distance Learning offers almost 70 Independent Studies for either personal enrichment or college credit. In spring 2009, Moody Distance Learning offered Web-based Independent Studies for the first time.

In January 2000, Moody Distance Learning pioneered a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies degree available completely online. Since 2000, an online Associate of Biblical Studies degree and an online Certificate of Biblical Studies for graduate and undergraduate students have also been offered. In 2012, MDL launched the completely online Master of Arts in Applied Biblical Studies.

Moody Evening School and Moody Distance Learning

In October 1903, Moody's Evening School was created. The school offered classes four nights a week and averaged 125 students during the first term. Its objective was similar to the day program, but it sought to train lay workers who would become effective in their churches, instead of students who would work full-time in the church.  

The Evening and Day Schools offered the same programs from 1918–1924. From 1925–1930, the Evening School curriculum was narrowed and only offered one course of study that matched the Day School: the General Course. In 1959, a new Basic Bible Course was created to allow students with academic deficiencies to receive Bible instruction.

In 1982, the Evening School began offering students an Adult Bible Studies Certificate. Two years later, students taking college credit courses could earn an Associate of Arts degree, later changed to the Associate of Science in Biblical Studies degree.

Moody Theological School and MTS—Michigan 

In 1985, Moody Bible Institute started Moody Graduate School to provide excellent biblical leadership training. Two name changes have followed: in 2009, to Moody Graduate School and Seminary, then to Moody Theological Seminary in 2011. MTS now offers 10 master's degrees and five graduate certificates, including in-depth theological training from top-notch faculty and ministry internships to build practical skills and experience. 

In 2010, Michigan Theological Seminary merged with Moody Theological Seminary to become Moody Theological Seminary–Michigan. With its Bible-centered evangelical core beliefs, MTS–Michigan is committed to providing its students with rigorous academic training. MTS–Michigan trains its students to be theologically prepared and spiritually mature leaders who will serve the church community in Michigan and throughout the world.

Moody Bible Institute—Spokane and Moody Aviation

Since 1993, Moody Bible Institute has offered classes in Spokane, Wash., first as an extension site known as Moody Northwest Center for External Studies. In 2005, Moody Aviation—Moody's program focused on training missionary pilots—was relocated from Tennessee to its current site in Spokane. 

One year later, Moody Northwest became Moody first branch campus, Moody Bible Institute in Spokane. It offered eight bachelor’s degrees and two certificate programs. Now the Moody Aviation facility partners with Spokane Community College and employs faculty from top mission aviation agencies to offer a Bachelor of Science in Missionary Aviation with two emphasis options.


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Bold Legacy Video


125 Years of MBI: Episode 2 - Education
The founding of Moody Bible Institute and schools that followed, including Moody Theological Seminary, Moody Aviation and Moody Distance Learning.

Moody Logo History

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