Advanced Standing and Advanced Substitutes

Western Seminary is designed to train students who have never had any previous theological education. However, we realize that a portion of our incoming students are Bible college graduates. If that’s true of you, please read carefully the information below.

Students must request advanced standing prior to or concurrent with their first semester of enrollment.

What are "Advanced Standing" and "Advanced Substitutes"?

Students who enter seminary with knowledge of content for any class required for their degree program, may be eligible for advanced standing and/or advanced substitutes. Students will be evaluated for eligibility by assessing previous education and current knowledge of course content. If the student demonstrates a competent, current understanding of approximately 80% of the course content, the student is eligible for advanced standing and/or advanced substitutes.

  • Advanced standing: Credits are waived from the degree program, reducing the number of credits required for degree completion. This option is available before or during the student's first term of classes.
  • Advanced substitutes: Advanced elective courses are substituted for required courses (no actual reduction in credits). This option is available anytime before a class is taken.

How do I request Advanced Standing or Advanced Substitutes?

  1. An applicant or admitted student who believes he or she may be qualified for advanced standing or advanced substitute because of prior education (formal or informal) should send an inquiry email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further details about the assessment process.
  2. Then, if the student wishes to apply for advanced standing/substitute, he or she must then submit an Advanced Standing/Advanced Substitutes Request form via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please fill out one form per course for which you would like to be assessed.
  3. The student pays a one-time, $60 examination sitting fee, plus $30 for each credit waived.
  4. Once a student has submitted the forms, the one-time, $60 sitting fee will be applied to the student's ledger in S.I.S.. Then an assessment appointment will be scheduled with the student and Andrew Pack, Western's director of online learning, who will administer the assessment process.

How does the examination process work?

The assessment is conducted by a combination of evidence of previous work and/or examination of current knowledge. The exam will be taken without the use of notes or a Bible and the student will need to produce thorough, well-developed answers to a set of questions related to the course for which advanced standing or advanced substitute is sought. The aim is to determine if the student can demonstrate competent, current understanding of course content.

  • Biblical literature sample questions: Can you discuss the development of “covenant” through the canon? What is the big idea and major contribution to the book of Exodus?
  • Hermeneutics sample questions: How would you conduct a word study? What are the various pitfalls in word studies?
  • Theology sample questions: What are the varying understandings of sin in Arminian, Wesleyan, Calvinist, Catholic, etc. understandings and which of these do you tend to agree with? Can you support your position with key Scripture passages?

Since there are numerous Bible, theology, spiritual formation, etc., courses required in each degree program, students will only be examined in the area(s) that they request.