What’s up (potential) seminarian?!

seminary e-bookWe’ve scoured the country talking to seminaries far and wide asking them to answer the 10 most asked questions from potential seminarians. In this series of blog posts, we will feature one seminary and give you in-depth answers to these questions.

You can also get the So You Want To Go To Seminary? e-book FREE. Tripp and Tim compiled all the answers to these 10 questions in an easy-to-digest digital nugget for your theological convenience.

School: Drew Theological School

Representative: Rev. Stephen J. Wolma, Associate Director of Theological Admissions

About Drew: Ours is a time of social and spiritual upheaval, in desperate need of a path toward healing and reconciliation.  The Drew Theological School offers a unique opportunity to set you on this path. The Drew Theological School trains leaders, scholars, activists, and pastors to be rooted in Christian tradition, innovative in spiritual reflection, and courageous in pursuing justice.  Through studies in one of the six degree programs offered at the Drew Theological School, you will become the rooted, innovative, and courageous agent of healing and reconciliation our world so desperately needs.  To apply for one of these six degree programs at the Drew Theological School, visit our website at www.drew.edu/theological or contact our admissions office at 973-408-3111. 

Steves Answers to the HBC Top 10 Questions:

Should I think of enrolling in seminary only if I feel “called?”

Feeling calledis by no means a precondition to enrolling in seminary. We at the Drew Theological School have for 150 years trained rooted, innovative, and courageous leaders for service to the church, the academy, and society. We are a diverse and open community that dares to pursue the love, wisdom, and justice at the heart of the transformative gospel of Jesus Christ.  People come to Drew who feel calledto seek peace and justice through a vocational ministry.  Others come to Drew without feeling called,motivated instead by a deep commitment to religiously oriented intellectual engagement and/or being an influencer of positive, productive change in the world.

How do future employability or future graduate school options affect the way you craft your programs? Can seminary prepare me to pursue another graduate degree or for a job without a stole? 

In addition to a unique educational experience, we want our students to leave the Drew Theological School with various options.  Our Master of Divinity degree offers the training most denominations require to become ordained as clergy.  For those denominations that do not require the MDiv, we have developed the Master of Arts in Ministry and our Master of Arts in Theological Studies.  While many students enrolled in these degree programs have aspirations of entering into vocational ministry in some capacity, many others plan to use the training offered in these degrees to pursue careers outside of the church, such as in activist organizations, other non-profit initiatives, or even in the corporate sector.  The Master of Arts in Theological Studies and Master of Sacred Theology both prepare a student for further graduate theological study.  Our Doctor of Ministry and Doctor of Philosophy are the highest degrees we offer, meant to be the capstones of a theological education in preparation for a dynamic professional ministry and/or a ground-breaking career in the academy.     

What degrees can I pursue at your institution? (Mdiv, MTS, MAT, Dmin, etc.) Do you have any joint degrees that you offer?

At the Drew Theological School, we currently do not offer any joint degrees, but have these six degree programs available:  

(1) Master of Arts (M.A.)–study in one or more disciplines in religious studies, tailored to students interests and goals
(2) Master of Arts in Ministry (M.A.M.)–graduate training for ministry in a variety of settings, flexible and focused on apprenticeship learning

(3)  Master of Divinity (M.Div.)–professional graduate training for ministry as a pastor, industry leader, or community activist, required by several denominations for ordination;

(4)  Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.)–advanced study to augment previous theological education, for deepening ministry or preparing for doctoral work

(5) Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.)–multidisciplinary advanced study for ministerial leaders, furthers theological reflection and recharges professional expertise

(6) Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)–advanced interdisciplinary study and research in the academic theological disciplines, equips university and college teachers, thought leaders, and public intellectuals

If I’m thinking about ordination, what strategy should I take to ensure that I end up in the right denomination for me? 

The steps toward ordination begin first with recognizing the centrality of community.  The journey of ministry should not be led with a focus to ordination or titles, but rather following a call to community. The first step we should all take is finding a worshiping community in which we can thrive and our gifts for ministry are nurtured. It is out of this community that God calls a person to ordination. The Drew Theological School will assist you in your search to find the community right for you, one that is actively and authentically engaged in worship, justice-oriented ministry, mission, and outreach.  After identifying this community, the denomination in which to seek ordination will become clear.

Do you offer residential programs? Satellite campuses? Online programs? Hybrid programs? 

The Drew Theological School offers a residential program for all of our Master level programs and the PhD program. The D.Min. degree can be completed online or as a hybrid program.  

What are the advantages of your geographical location and physical campus when compared to other seminaries? 

The Theological School is located on the campus of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. Our campus is on 186 forested acres with 47 buildings including a national landmark.  We are only 30 miles west of New York City. Our proximity allows our students to take advantage of the richness of diversity located in New York City. You will engage with various ministries, non-profit organizations, denominational agencies, and governmental services. In each instance, the desire is for you to embrace courageous opportunities that will allow you to be prophetic voices of change in the church, community, and world.

What can I expect from the learning experience in my program in the first year? How can I best come prepared? What kind of workload should I expect? 

Within the first year of studying at the Drew Theological School, you should expect to learn the foundations and complexities of biblical studies, systematic theology, church history, and social justice, all with an aim to empower God’s people to lovingly bring about positive personal and social change. As you prepare to come to Drew, it is important to continue a life of prayer and to seek spiritual guidance and discernment from friends, family, and those in your local church community. The workload at the Drew Theological School varies from class to class, but overall you can expect to do a fair amount of reading assigned texts, writing responses and research papers, preparing projects, and giving presentations as part of your studies.

What sort of theological and practical skills can I expect to learn as I attend your school? What tradition do you represent?

While we have students from various Christian traditions, the Drew Theological School is grounded in the Wesleyan and Methodist tradition of bold ideas that impact peoples lives for the good. We believe that when ancient wisdom is in lively engagement with contemporary challenges, great things are possible. The next generation of faith leaders need imagination and courage to constructively engage the challenges and opportunities of our age. This is built into how we do things. No matter your degree program, a Drew Theological School education includes interdisciplinary courses that demand out of the box thinking, apprenticeship training that addresses real world issues, and modes of learning that promote adaptability and innovation.

What are some ways that your seminary is working to reduce overall student debt?

We are working creatively with our scholarships and financial aid packages to reduce student debt as much as possible.  Other initiatives to reduce student debt include working to establish relationships with local churches or other organizations that can offer both financial contribution (in the form of compensation or housing) and practical learning opportunities for our students.

What is the advice you most often give to potential seminarians?

The most important thing about choosing a seminary is fit.”  Many seminaries and theological schools offer wonderful opportunities, but you should choose the one that fits you best.  While this is ultimately something each prospective student must discern for herself or himself, the unique opportunities offered at the Drew Theological School could be a great fit for you as you take your next step in your theological education and professional development.