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College of Graduate and Professional Education
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College of Graduate and Professional Education

The College of Graduate and Professional Education provides graduate and non-traditional education to our undergraduate and adult NCU students. The college consists of two academic departments: Graduate Education and Professional Education.

The Professional Education department at NCU prepares students for rewarding careers through adult degree completion and the Applied Studies program, a vocational educational partnership with Minneapolis College.

Graduate Education at NCU prepares students for the next level of their careers through practical and academic leadership training for meaningful work in the marketplace and leadership in businesses, churches, and organizations.

Graduate education at North Central

When you enroll in graduate education at NCU, you will have the opportunity to grow as a leader and increase your existing knowledge and skills in ways that will apply immediately to your life and career. Degrees are offered both on-campus and online, and are designed to fit your schedule and student needs.

Graduate program

he Master of Arts in Strategic Leadership program develops effective Christian leaders for vital roles in businesses, churches, and other organizations through a theologically-informed, theoretically-grounded, and practically-applied curriculum.

Looking for a flexible way to earn your graduate degree? Explore our online Master of Arts in Strategic Leadership

Professional education offerings

Whether you are looking to come back to college to complete your degree or looking for vocational training in fields such as Law Enforcement, Criminal Justice, Addiction Counseling or Visual Arts, the Professional Education department can help you achieve your academic and personal goals.

Applied Studies

North Central University’s Applied Studies program offers dual-degree options in a variety of fields, all in partnership with Minneapolis College. In this program, you’ll earn a bachelor’s degree from North Central and an associate’s degree from Minneapolis College while preparing for a fulfilling career in a high-demand vocational field. You’ll experience all of the benefits of being in the NCU community, including our spiritual atmosphere and vibrant student life, while having access to the career-specific resources of Minneapolis College.

Pathways Program

The North Central Pathways program is a degree-completion program focused on students who have been away from North Central for more than 5 years and would like to go back to college. This program works with our Registrar’s office and Deans’ Council to create an efficient, highly discounted way for you to finish your degree.

Josh Smedsrud, graduate student of North Central
Passion, perseverance, graduate studies success

When Josh Smedsrud walked as the first recipient of NCU's Master of Arts in Strategic Leadership (MASL), the audience applauded both his achievement and also the milestone for the university.

Read Josh's story Hide

Not everyone gets a standing ovation at a graduation ceremony. But when Josh Smedsrud went through the traditional hooding ceremony as the first recipient of North Central’s Master of Arts in Strategic Leadership (MASL), the audience stood to applaud both his achievement and also this milestone for the university.

Smedsrud’s journey included “the most aggressive academic effort” of his life, which enabled him to walk across the stage to claim his master’s degree just one year after earning his bachelor’s.

It was in the midst of a busy senior year while focusing on his senior music recital—the busiest season of his college career—that Smedsrud was encouraged to check into NCU’s 4+1 program. By taking a specific core of undergrad classes followed by a year of full-time graduate studies, 4+1 affords the chance to get a master’s degree sooner and with less expense.

Completing the bulk of his graduate program was intense, according to Smedsrud. But when people around him pointed out that the effort to complete the program so quickly might be out of reach, it only fired him up more to take the challenge. “I charted out all the work I would have to do and the hours it would take,” Smedsrud said of his process. And then he put the pedal to the floor and drove steady toward the finish line.

Smedsrud’s singular focus on his graduate studies was exceptional, yet one of the benefits of the MASL program at North Central is flexibility. Some students pursue the 4+ 1 path that Smedsrud took; others are blending their studies with careers and life, taking evening or online classes, with the potential to complete their degree in about 20 months.

Coming alive through learning

“I didn’t know much about a graduate degree,” Smedsrud confessed, and decided to try one class on for size. “I took a Spiritual Leadership course and it was like everything that made me come alive inside came together. Once I found out I really enjoyed the class I would read and re-read the books. I could not get my mind off of it.”

Smedsrud said he and classmates from the graduate program would continue the course-related conversation long after class was over, mulling over things they’d learned. He was hooked and made a firm decision to pursue his master’s degree.

As he continued, the rising level of challenge within his graduate studies stretched him. “Leadership Strategies and Change was one of the most challenging classes I’ve ever been a part of,” Smedsrud acknowledged. “We conducted a business audit and it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, but so rewarding and fulfilling.”

Ready for success in any area

Smedsrud is currently working as a full-time manager with a national coffee house chain. Additionally, he and his wife, Sofia, work together in her film and photography business, and long-term he has his sights set on a career in ministry or higher education. He remains grateful for the knowledge and experience he gained on the path to a master’s degree. “The MASL is a broad degree—it’s like the perfect blend of everything that will set you up for success in any area.”

The close interaction with professors (“The professors would give us their cell phone numbers!”) and spiritual development that accompanied his studies at both the undergraduate and graduate level were significant to Smedsrud. “You can get your master’s degree wherever,” he reflected. “But if you want a school that draws you closer to God as result of your education, then North Central is the place to get your master’s degree.”

Meet the dean


North Central Faculty Renea Brathwaite

College of Graduate and Professional Education

Dr. Renea Brathwaite

Dr. Renea Brathwaite was born in Barbados, a small island-nation in the Caribbean and has lived in Trinidad and Tobago as well as in several regions of the United States.

In addition to being an ordained Assemblies of God minister, he holds an MA in Theological Studies (biblical languages and exegesis concentration) from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary and a PhD from Regent University, where he defended his dissertation on early Pentecostal theology. While at Regent University, he was a presidential scholar for three consecutive years and received both the Outstanding Graduate and Distinguished Graduate awards.

Dr. Brathwaite has a wide range of vocational experiences from elementary school teacher to healthcare finance manager to technical consultant to young adults’ pastor and worship leader. He has also taught graduate and undergraduate courses at a variety of institutions, including Regent University School of Divinity (VA), Malone University (OH), Evangel University (MO), William Seymour College (MD), and Hosanna Bible Training Center (OH). Most recently, he served as the dean of the Ohio School of Ministry, one of the key ministerial training arms of the Ohio Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God.

Dr. Brathwaite has a passion for transformative, Spirit-filled teaching and preaching. He sees them as important means of true biblical empowerment. Moreover, he holds as one of his life-long goals the dismantling of the modern myth that truly intellectual people cannot also be truly spiritual.

For over twenty-four years, Dr. Brathwaite has been happily married to Joy, and they have two college-age children, Kara and Andrew.

What are your areas of expertise?

My areas of expertise include the delivery of theological education at multiple levels and the academic study of the Holy Spirit. I am also fascinated by the history and theology of renewal movements throughout the Christian era, with special attention to the origins of the Pentecostal movement in the 20th century.

What do you love about North Central?

I love the integration of passion and intellect on display here at NCU. As both a churchman and an academic, I also truly appreciate North Central University’s commitment to providing all of its students—and not just vocational ministry majors—with a deep yet rounded and practical theological education. And what a location!