The Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies, known as AIIAS (pronounced eye-us), is a General Conference institution offering master’s and doctoral degrees exclusively. Although it is located just south of Manila in the Philippines, students come from more than 80 countries, representing every world division and six of the seven continents. The composition of AIIAS faculty remains international and diverse, with members coming from 19 different countries representing 11 world divisions. The international flavor of diversity in thought and culture on campus provides students the ability to “taste the world” on a daily basis. This international institution not only offers services to students from all over the world, but also impacts the world church at large through AIIAS alumni working at General Conference headquarters, several divisions, and higher education institutions around the world.
With Distance Learning Centers (DLC) worldwide, church employees are able to expand their education. As of February 2015, 13 DLC programs are currently set up in 10 countries, including Chile and Ukraine. One of these DLCs offers a Ph.D. in business for the East-Central Africa Division.
The first cohort-style program of learning, a specialized approach called the Big 4, was established in 2010. This academic program brought 60 pastors from around Asia to focus on understanding the four main groups in the 10/40 window: Buddhists, Muslims, Chinese, and urban residents. Following graduation, these frontline experts have been working full-time and have developed customized materials specifically for these groups.
AIIAS is one of the pioneers in online education among Adventist institutions around the world. Becoming a member of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) in February 2015 allowed AIIAS to keep abreast of global membership from 60 countries dealing with current developments and opportunities for online education. In 2013 AIIAS Online celebrated 10 years of offering quality education; its first students completed their M.B.A. degrees entirely online.
For the school year 2014-2015 there are 148 online students from 64 countries. With an average of seven to 20 students per class, students are able to get that necessary one-on-one time with professors, while a variety of thoughts and worldviews circulate freely in the discussions. In order to reach the needs of online students, AIIAS Online developed an innovative way to include online students in spiritual life by holding its first-ever online Week of Prayer.
In keeping with the mission and focus on the 10/40 window, AIIAS established the Asia Studies Center, a collection of research resources for reaching Asia with the gospel. The collection has significantly increased because of a special US$55,000 grant as part of the Big 4 program. It is anticipated that this collection benefits students in all AIIAS degree programs by providing the opportunity for specialized knowledge and application specifically in an Asian context. It also provides resources for the constituents of the Northern Asia-Pacific Division (NSD) and the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD).
There are four annual forums on campus: the AIIAS Theological Forum, the AIIAS Graduate School Forum, the AIIAS Asian Theological Forum, and the AIIAS African Theological Forum. These forums extend beyond the campus as they attract professionals from around the world to present and attend. Along with these forums, peer-reviewed academic journals are published twice a year.
AIIAS students and faculty are involved in a variety of community and mission projects. In 2014 the Philippine government recognized AIIAS for its ministry to the inmates in Dasmariñas City Jail. The ministry team provides worship services, a moral recovery seminar, and an exercise routine as part of the health and lifestyle improvement program.
To accommodate the needs of the growing student body, AIIAS is developing in infrastructure as well. Completed in 2014, two additional student towers provide 27 new apartment units for students to live on campus, and therefore be closer to the library and necessary resources while living on a gated campus.
After years of planning and fund-raising, ground was broken for the seminary building extension, which will provide more classroom space and offices for faculty.
Trends have shown an increase in off-campus and cohort program enrollment. There is also a growing interest in post-master’s degree programs.
The on-campus enrollment trend continues, with the increase primarily in the post-master’s (i.e., M.Th., Ed.S., D.Min., Ph.D.) programs. Of the on-campus students, 47 percent are seeking post-master’s degrees in 2015, compared to 33 percent in 2008. This becomes a challenge because doctoral students require more counsel and advise regarding research than others. It also means more research is done yearly, contributing to the academic and practitioner circles.
AIIAS is blessed to have generous donors who provide worthy student funds. However, with the increase in enrollment, the need for worthy student funds has increased significantly. This has become a major challenge for AIIAS as it seeks to meet the needs of the church in the future.
Please keep AIIAS in your prayers as it continues to provide quality Adventist education and develop leaders with a heart for mission.