How to Choose a SeminaryWhen you are ready to pursue God’s calling, one avenue you may consider is attending seminary. Seminary delivers the foundational education that you need to be successful as a Christian leader on your journey to fulfilling your God-given purpose. Choosing your seminary program is an important decision and one that should be made with much thought and consideration. The course you choose today will reverberate throughout your life and your ministry.
Questions to Consider When Choosing a SeminaryAs you begin to explore the different seminary possibilities, there are several questions to ask yourself. Taking the time to examine your desires, your needs, and your values will help you select the program that is best suited to your journey through faith.
What are your goals?It’s important to think about your goals in attending seminary before choosing a program. Are you interested in full-time vocational ministry? Or are you more interested in strictly studying theology? What does your ministry look like? By identifying your intentions for attending seminary, you can choose the educational path that is most aligned with your passion and calling. Some programs are geared specifically for those who wish to become pastors while others are more flexible.
Is the seminary accredited?Before deciding on a seminary school, you will want to find out if the seminary is accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of The Association of Theological Schools, or ATS. Accreditation means that your school meets specific standards for educational quality set forth by the Commission, which helps to assure the quality of theological education. United Theological Seminary is accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of The Association of Theological Schools as well as the Higher Learning Commission.
Does the seminary offer online courses?Many people attending seminary are doing so part-time while maintaining a job and/or caring for their families. Some seminary programs offer online courses, which give students the opportunity to be more flexible when scheduling their courses. United Theological Seminary offers its FlexChoice program, which allows students to choose to schedule their coursework at a pace that best suits their needs. Many of these courses are available online for maximum flexibility.
What are the faculty like?Seminary graduates will often recommend that you choose your program based on the faculty under which you wish to study. Oftentimes, you will want to study under professors who are well known. Though influence is a significant factor, seeking out faculty who demonstrate godliness and personal character in their work is usually a successful approach. The President of United Theological Seminary is Dr. Kent Millard, who has served in his role since 2016. Before joining United, Dr. Millard spent 18 years as Senior Pastor at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, which is a congregation of over 6,500 members. Dr. Millard is very active on his blog in which he shares about all things United. To learn more about United’s faculty, visit our faculty member page to see your potential professor.
What are the seminary’s core values?Perhaps the most important question to ask yourself is what are your values? How do they align with your seminary’s values? You want to choose a program in which you identify strongly with the core beliefs. No two seminaries are exactly the same in this way, so as part of your discernment process it’s beneficial to reflect on what it is you value most in your faith and in your education. At United Theological Seminary, education is deeply rooted in our core values. We are committed to the historic Christian faith. We value scriptural holiness for personal transformation and the transformation of the world. And we believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to change lives and bring renewal to the Church.
What degrees are offered?Part of choosing the seminary school that is the right fit for you involves examining the degrees each school offers to find which one best suits your needs. United Theological Seminary offers six degree programs at both the master’s and doctoral levels.
Master of Arts (MA)The Master of Arts is United Theological Seminary’s most flexible master’s degree program and is adaptable to a wide array of interests and goals. Students have the opportunity to build their own course curriculum. This program is best suited to those who are already working pastors or those who wish to become pastors. Additionally, the Master of Arts program is self-paced with a lot of room to customize your coursework to your busy schedule.
Master of Theological Studies (MTS)Students pursuing the Master of Theological Studies study the Bible, theological history, and theological traditions in order to develop a solid academic foundation. The goal of this program is for students to increase their religious understanding and capacity for ministry within the church community.
Master of Ministry (MMin)The Master of Ministry program is ideal for those who wish to become a Deacon within the United Methodist Church or who aim to continue their education in the Doctor of Ministry program. This program helps students develop a strong foundation in theological education and provides the fundamental skills for modern-day ministry.
Master of Divinity (MDiv)The Master of Divinity program is ideal for those who are preparing to enter the ministry as ordained religious leaders in many of the major Protestant denominations, as well as those who wish to serve as lay professionals. These lay professionals may aspire to minister in various ways, including chaplaincy, education, and social work.
Master of Arts in Christian Ministries (MACM)The Master of Arts in Christian Ministries is an excellent choice for students who wish to pursue leadership and service roles within their communities.
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)The Doctor of Ministry Program is an advanced professional degree program that was designed specifically with religious leaders in mind, especially those who have been called by God to expand their ministries and lead change for God’s glory. This program requires students to develop an original-research based thesis project in order to apply for graduation. It also presupposes a Master of Divinity degree followed by at least three years of ministry.
Houses of StudyStudents in MDiv, MMin, MACM may also choose to add a House of Study to their curriculum, including Fresh Expressions, Global Pentecostal, Global Wesleyan, and Hispanic. Visit our Houses of Study page to learn more about our different programs.
Key TakeawaysIn summary, to determine the seminary that is right for you, you should consider:
- What are your goals in attending seminary? By identifying your intentions for attending seminary, you can choose the educational path that is most aligned with your passion and calling.
- Is the seminary accredited? Accreditation means that your school meets specific standards for educational quality set forth by the Commission, which helps to assure the quality of theological education.
- Does the seminary offer online courses? Some seminary programs offer online courses, which give students the opportunity to be more flexible when scheduling their courses.
- What degrees are offered? Does the seminary you’re seeking offer post-graduate degrees?
- What are the faculty like? Oftentimes, you will want to study under professors who are well-known, and well-liked.
- What are the seminary’s core values? You want to choose a program in which you identify strongly with the core beliefs. It’s beneficial to reflect on what it is you value most in your faith and in your education.