New Student Orientation

At the beginning of each semester the Seminary presents a student orientation program. The purpose of the program is to welcome incoming students to the seminary community and provide them with the information and procedures necessary for a smooth transition into seminary life.

During orientation, incoming students meet with faculty and students in both formal and informal settings. Registration instructions, program advising, etc., are also scheduled. A number of presentations and seminars are offered to help incoming students and spouses adjust to their new setting.

Because the orientation programs have proven to be such a valuable experience for students and spouses, the Seminary asks incoming students to view them as mandatory.

Registration for Classes

Class registration is the outcome of the planning and advising efforts of both the student and the academic advisor. A preliminary long-term plan is adopted during the first semester of enrollment. Each semester’s course selection is agreed upon during a conference between the student and advisor. Vocational and ministry goals are reviewed at this time.

Registration for continuing students is scheduled during the previous semester, with registration for new and returning students occurring after admission. Students who miss the regular registration periods are allowed to register during the late registration period. A fee is charged for late registration.

A completed registration indicates that the student confirms his or her basic harmony with the doctrinal position of the Seminary and agrees to comply with all of its regulations affecting students. For the general welfare of the school community, those who find they are in disharmony with the doctrinal position or regulations may be asked to withdraw.

Course Changes

Students may change their registration with the approval of their program advisor. No course is officially added or dropped until the change has been recorded on the student’s enrollment record in the Records Office.

The deadlines for adding and dropping courses are determined on a semester basis. These deadlines may be obtained in the Student Services Office or online in the Student Information System. Students who want to add or drop a course after the deadline should submit an Academic Petition (available on the website) to the Student Services Office. If a student stops participating in a course after the drop deadline without an approved Academic Petition to withdraw, the course will be recorded with a failing grade.

All course changes are the responsibility of the student and must be completed online or submitted in writing. Students who experience difficulty or are unsuccessful in adding or dropping a course with the online Student Information System must submit to the Records Office a written or emailed request for the add or drop prior to the course add or drop deadline.

Credit Hours and Course Load

Western Seminary records learning by the semester hour, which represents 45 hours of classroom experience, academic preparation and research, and field practice. For classroom format instruction, courses generally meet for 750 minutes of instruction per semester credit hour excluding breaks (i.e., 15 hours less break times). For each hour in class the student should anticipate studying approximately two hours outside class. The first semester of enrollment generally requires more time for adjustment and the development of effective study and time management skills. If employment or ministry responsibilities entail more than 20 hours per week, the student may be asked to adjust his or her course load.

Students are advised to plan their course load a year or more in advance. Class schedules are customarily published one or two semesters in advance. A selection of courses for each degree program is available each semester of the year. Students are encouraged to make steady progress toward their degrees while balancing the responsibilities of family, church ministry, and employment. Students are not permitted to enroll for more than 18 credits without written permission from the Dean of Student Development or his designated representative at branch campuses.

For financial aid purposes (including Veterans’ benefits), the minimum full-time academic load for the Master of Divinity, Master of Arts, and Graduate Studies Diploma programs is eight credit hours. The minimum half-time load for those programs is four credit hours. For the Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry and Doctor of Missiology programs, the minimum full-time academic load is six credit hours and the minimum half-time load is three credit hours.

Non-Credit, Continuing Education, and Lifelong Learning Units

Many credit courses and non-credit learning events (e.g., seminars, workshops) may be taken for personal enrichment apart from graduate credit. For approved Seminary-sponsored courses, participants register as auditors and may apply for a record of such attendance, either as an auditor on an official seminary transcript (when admitted to the Seminary), or as a Learning Unit (LU) issued through the Online Campus. The LU is used by Western Seminary to demonstrate progress toward an Advanced Studies Certificate, and is defined as 15 contact hours of satisfactory participation in an approved course or event.

Participants in non-credit courses or events who are required by external agencies or associations to pursue programs of continuing education may request that the Online Campus issue Continuing Education Units (CEUs) appropriate for the learning activity. A CEU fee is required in addition to the course tuition or event fee. The CEU is a nationally recognized measurement of non-credit post-secondary level of learning. Professionals in many fields of service, including pastors, Christian school teachers, chaplains, counselors, and ministry leaders, use the CEU records to verify an educational experience to maintain or improve skills. The Online Campus maintains records of all CEUs.

Under no circumstances will enrichment learning experiences, including LUs or CEUs, be recorded or transferred as academic credit. If an auditor or enrichment participant wishes subsequently to receive credit for such learning, the course must be repeated with all work graded contemporaneously.

Class Attendance

Students are expected to attend and participate in classroom activities as directed by the instructor and as noted in the course syllabus. When a student anticipates that an absence of 20% or more of the class time is necessary, permission in advance by academic petition is required. It is the student’s responsibility to make arrangements with instructors for missed class work.

In order for coursework to apply to the Addiction Studies Certificate, students must attend at least 70% of the course. Any course in which a student’s attendance falls below 70% (even if alternate arrangements are made with the instructor) must be repeated at the minimum attendance standard in order to meet the certificate requirements.

Leave of Absence, Withdrawal and Re-admission

Whenever possible, students should plan extended absences of a semester or longer with their advisors. A master’s-level student may take a leave of absence of up to one calendar year. The student’s standing in the program will remain active during the leave of absence. A leave of absence is permitted only for students in good standing and does not constitute a waiver of the statute of limitations for completion of the degree.
Students who fail to enroll for three consecutive semesters will be considered to have withdrawn from their degree program and the Seminary. Students who have withdrawn and desire to return will need to apply for readmission through the Admissions Office. Such students will be subject to the catalog requirements in effect at the time of readmission rather than those in effect at the time of initial admission.

Students may withdraw from a class without academic penalty during the course drop period. A withdrawal after the course drop period will be recorded as a failing grade in all courses, unless the student has been granted permission to withdraw without academic penalty by the Administrative Committee. The official withdrawal date is the date the Records Office is notified of the student’s intention to withdraw in writing or via a course drop in the online Student Information System.

Students considering withdrawing from the Seminary, regardless of the reason, should meet with the Dean of Student Development or his designated representative (branch campuses) to begin the formal withdrawal process. Withdrawal is not complete until the academic approval form has been signed by Registrar.
Please note that students who have successfully petitioned to be withdrawn from a course must submit a Financial Petition if they wish to be considered for any financial reimbursement.


A matriculated degree student may audit select 500-level courses without credit, assuming registration is made as an auditor. Anyone auditing a course is considered a participant in the class, though the professor may choose to limit the level of participation. Evaluation of assignments and/or examinations is normally not provided to auditors. Enrollment is restricted in some courses—contact the Registrar’s Office for assistance.
Auditors must attend at least 80% of scheduled class meetings in order to receive transcript notation. Audited classes may be repeated for credit.

Any person who has not been admitted as a degree-status student must apply for admission under the non-degree status using the Non-Credit Application & Registration form (available online) in order to audit. Non-degree status students are subject to the same requirements and fees as regular students.