The Graduate Studies Diploma Program


Program Objectives & Requirements

Western Seminary offers the flexible, one-year Graduate Studies Diploma (GSD) program for individuals with varying objectives for theological education.

The program may be appropriate for:

  • Ministry directors and staff in a local church;
  • Mission personnel in professional and non-professional roles who seek formal biblical, theological and missiological training;
  • Christian school educators who need to further their education in biblical and theological studies;
  • Laypersons and marketplace leaders who desire to deepen their preparation for effective lay ministry;
  • Individuals who need a “trial year” in seminary to better define their vocational aspirations;
  • Spouses of Western students who wish to participate in some aspect of their spouse’s education.

Since these credits could also subsequently be applied to M.A. or M.Div. degree programs (depending upon the specific curricular requirements for each), the GSD is also suitable for those who wish to enroll in seminary without making the commitment required for a degree program. GSD students are able to select the discipline in which they will take most (or all) of this coursework. The diploma program, by itself, is typically not adequate preparation for vocational ministry. While it is not intended to provide a full level of training and education for pastoral, church-planting, and teaching ministries, it does provide a foundation of biblical education and ministry skills helpful for bi-vocational ministries and those serving in a support capacity. The program is designed to fulfill minimum educational requirements of certain parachurch and mission organizations. The diploma program may be used as the equivalent of the first year of either the M.Div. or M.A. programs.

Admission Requirements

Students entering the diploma program are expected to present a baccalaureate degree and give evidence of Christian faith, character, promise, and maturity. The same admission standards, materials, and procedures as for the M.Div. program are required. Applicants who seek admission, but do not meet admission requirements, may seek special consideration from the Admissions Committee.

Transfer Credit

Upon approval by the Registrar, transfer of up to 15 credit hours toward the Graduate Studies Diploma program is allowed from graduate institutions accredited by the Association of Theological Schools. Students must have earned a grade of B or better for a course to be considered for transfer and coursework must have completed no more than five years prior to matriculation to Western Seminary.

Alternatively, students may receive advanced standing of up to 7 credit hours of the Graduate Studies Diploma requirements if they are able to demonstrate current competency in required coursework based on prior study (based on parallel undergraduate work or transfer credit that is ineligible for consideration based on age). Transferability of credits earned at Western and transferred to another institution is at the discretion of the receiving institution. Consult the Registrar’s Office for information on eligibility of transfer credit and advanced standing.

Residence Requirements

Of the 30 credit hours required for the Graduate Studies Diploma program, a minimum of 15 credit hours must be completed through coursework at any of the Western Seminary campus locations, including the Online Campus. Reinstatement to the program after withdrawal requires Admissions Committee action and may subject the student to additional requirements for the degree. All credits applied toward the program requirements must be earned within ten years of the awarding of the diploma.

Diploma Requirements

To earn a diploma, a student must complete 30 semester hours of study with a 2.5 cumulative grade point average. Many courses are offered by an intensive (on campus) schedule, or through a variety of distance learning formats. The intensive module permits study through convenient scheduling options throughout the year. The distance learning format provides opportunity to individuals outside Portland, San Jose, or Sacramento to study and learn while remaining in their home area and ministries. All credits applied toward the degree requirements must be earned within ten years of the awarding of the degree.

Western Seminary offers four options in the Graduate Studies Diploma program: Open Track, Bible and Theology specialization, Ministry specialization, and Pastoral Care to Women specialization.

Graduate Studies Diploma Curriculum Plan

Please note: Biblical studies, theological studies, hermeneutics and church history courses may be offered in 4-credit or 2-credit (i.e. BLS 501X, BLS 501Y) formats, depending on the campus location.

Specialization or Track: 30 credits (select one)

Open Track
Biblical and Theological Studies: 8 credits
Any course with a BLS, CHS, DBS, NTS, OTS, THS prefix.
Concentration Studies: 8 credits
Courses in one area with advisor consent.
Open Electives: 14 credits
Bible and Theology Specialization
Spiritual Formation Studies: 2 credits
SFS 501 Learning to Love God and Others 2
Biblical Interpretation Studies: 16 credits
DBS 506 -or- Learning to Interpret Scripture 4
DBS 506X and Learning to Interpret Scripture, Part 1 2
DBS 506Y Learning to Interpret Scripture, Part 2 2
BLS 501 -or- Interpreting Genesis to Song of Solomon 4
BLS 501X and Interpreting Old Testament I: Genesis to 2 Samuel 2
BLS 501Y Interpreting the Old Testament II: 1 Kings to Song of Solomon 2
BLS 502 -or- Interpreting the Prophets and Gospel 4
BLS 502X and Interpreting Old Testament III: The Prophets 2
BLS 502Y Interpreting the New Testament I: Gospels 2
BLS 503 -or- Interpreting Acts to Revelation 4
BLS 503X and Interpreting the New Testament II: Epistles 1 2
BLS 503Y Interpreting the New Testament III: Epistles 2 2
Theological Studies: 10 credits
THS 501 -or- Knowing the Triune God: Theology I 4
THS 501X and Knowing the Triune God: Theology I, Part 1 2
THS 501Y Knowing the Triune God: Theology I, Part 2 2
THS 502 -or- Glorifying the God of Our Salvation: Theology II 4
THS 502X and Glorifying the God of Our Salvation: Theology II, Part 1 2
THS 502Y Glorifying the God of Our Salvation: Theology II, Part 2 2
THS 503 Living as the Community of the Spirit: Theology III 2
Open Electives: 2 credits
Ministry Specialization
Ministerial Studies: 12 credits
Select from the courses below.
SFS 501 Learning to Love God and Others 2
SFS 504 Growing into Ethical Maturity 2
DIS 501 Communicating Christ in Culture 2
DMS 501 Thinking Theologically About Ministry Leadership 2
DMS 502 Introducing Theology and Practice of Worship 2
DMS 506 Developing Godly Leadership for the 21st Century 2
EMS 505 Growing Disciples Intentionally 2
PTS 503 Practicing Evangelism and Apologetics 2
PTS 504 Maximizing the Church's Redemptive Influence 2
PTS 507 Pastoral Counseling 2
PTS 508 Developing Strong Families 2
Other Ministry Electives: 8 credits
Open Electives: 10 credits
Pastoral Care to Women Specialization
Spiritual Formation Studies: 4 credits
SFS 501 Learning to Love God and Others 2
SFS 504 Growing into Ethical Maturity 2
Ministerial Studies: 6 credits
Any course with a DMS or PTS prefix, with advisor approval.
Pastoral Care to Women Studies: 12 credits
PCW 511 Pastoral Understanding of Women 2
PCW 512X Women in Pain, Part 1 2
PCW 513 Women in Leadership 2
Choose 6 credits from the courses below:
PCW 512Y Women in Pain, Part 2 2
PCW 514 Building Relational Ministries for Women 2
PCW 515 Develop and Deliver Life-Changing Messages 2
PCW 521 Develop Life Changing Bible Study Curriculum 2
Open electives: 8 credits

2016-2017 Academic Catalog