BROWNWOOD, Texas -

It's a two for one deal.

Howard Payne University's (HPU) School of Christian Studies is starting one accelerated degree program in August that will offer students the chance to get two degrees. As the director and dean of the department like to put it, "four plus one equals two." Undergraduate degree in four years plus a Master's of Arts in one year equals two degrees. 

Students in the program must be in good academic standing and have a minimum GPA of 3.0. They need to have three academic references and a church endorsement. They can take course work for their 42-hour graduate degree starting senior year of their undergraduate career.

"You want to make sure that what you're offering is a good solid viable degree, that there is a market in need for it, and that it's the kind of program that fits your institution," Dean of HPU's School of Christian Studies Dr. Donnie Auvenshine said. 

The HPU's School of Christian Studies' director Dr. Gary Gramling said this new program will help better prepare students for the real world of ministry. 

"By the time they finish, they'll have some church experience like leading churches as well as the academic preparation that they need," Dr. Gramling said.

So far seven students have enrolled in the program, but both Dr. Gramling and Dr. Auvenshine said they are excited for their students' futures.

"These students will not be pastoring our Fathers' churches, they will be pastoring our children's churches," Dr. Auvenshine said. "They'll be serving as youth ministers and disciple leaders."