The Graduate Studies Certificate Program

Program Objectives & Requirements

Western Seminary offers the short and flexible Graduate Studies Certificate (GSC) program for individuals who require limited and focused theological training to enter a ministry role or for personal growth and development. Since these credits could also be subsequently applied to diploma or degree programs (depending upon the specific curricular requirements of each), the GSC is suitable for those who wish to enroll in seminary without making the commitment required for longer programs. GSC students are able to select the discipline in which they will take most (or all) of this coursework.

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.

Students who wish to pursue this type of program, but on an enrichment (non-credit) basis, should pursue the Advanced Studies Certificate.

Admission Requirements

Students entering the certificate program for credit 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 who do not meet admission requirements, may seek special consideration from the Admissions Committee.

Certificate Requirements

To earn a certificate for credit a student must complete 16 credit hours of study with a 2.5 cumulative grade point average. Students, with advisor consent, will choose one concentration area of at least 8 credits grouped around a common discipline or theme, and the remaining hours (up to the required 16) as open electives. Students anticipating or considering later applying these credits towards a 30-hour Graduate Studies Diploma or a master’s degree (MA or MDiv) should consult with their advisor to ensure that credits earned in the certificate program will apply toward their future degree program.

Many courses are offered by an intensive (in-person) 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 should normally be earned within ten years of the awarding of the degree. Alternatively, new or re-entering students whose prior coursework exceeds the ten-year limit may request to demonstrate current competency by examination up to the advanced standing credit limitations for each degree program as specified elsewhere in this catalog.

Graduate Studies Certificate Curriculum Plan

Concentration Studies: 8 credits
Courses in one area with advisor consent.
Open Electives: 8 credits


Portland, San Jose, or Sacramento