Frequently Asked Questions - Global Learning

As you consider whether enrolling in an online program is for you, we expect that you will have questions. Having worked with thousands of students over the years, we can anticipate many of the questions you might have and have provided brief responses to those questions below. Of course, if you have questions that are not included, we invite you to call or email us and we will do what we can to provide you with the answers you need.

Can I earn a full degree online?

Absolutely! Western Seminary is an ATS-accredited seminary authorized to offer the Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies (MABTS), Master of Arts in Ministry and Leadership (MAML),  and Master of Applied Biblical Leadership (MABL) degrees online.  We also offer the Graduate Studies Diploma and Graduate Studies Certificate fully online.

Why should I consider coming to some campus intensives during my online degree program?  

From its inception, Western’s online program has been value-driven. That means that everything we do, from our course design to our choice of delivery technologies to our approach to customer services, has been developed in the context of what we value as a seminary. Certainly, we know that having degree-level access to Western’s world-class faculty and rich ministry-preparation resources is valued by our students. We share that value. That is why we have helped pioneer and champion theological education at a distance for more than 35 years.

But seminary is more than simply having access. It is more than accumulating enough credit hours to satisfy your degree requirements. Seminary is – or should be – a transformative experience nurtured in community.  And it is a time when, in a very real way, you become part of the life and history of Western Seminary.

What happens during intensive classes?

During intensive classes, you will also meet faculty, staff, and students from around the nation – and often from around the world – who will be part of your learning community throughout your studies.  You will form personal connections which will enrich your studies through the rest of your degree program.  And we encourage you to return to take more intensive classes whenever you want to refresh your connections in person.

I am engaged in full-time ministry. Will I be able to complete an online degree?

Most of our online students are actively engaged in ministry, and many serve in full-time ministry or other professional roles. We cannot say it will be easy to complete any of our degree programs – it won’t – but we are committed to helping you succeed. Experience has taught us that if you can exercise a measure of self-discipline, and if you stay focused on the goals you set when you came to seminary, completing an online degree will not just be realistic, it will be a reality.

How long will it take to complete my degree?

The 56-hour MA (BTS) and 52-hour MAML degree programs can realistically be completed in as few as 2.5 years if you take a full time load (8 credit hours per semester). The 82-hour MDIV program can also be completed in as few as 3 years when full time.  But most students take half-time loads (4 credit hours) and take 5 to 6 years to finish. You may, however, have the option to reduce the time required to graduate by pursuing Advanced Standing in your program. To learn more about this option, click here.

Can I accelerate my program and finish sooner?

Yes… and no. The Advanced Standing option means that incoming students may indeed waive entire courses from their degree program, if their prior education covered content in required courses at Western Seminary, and they demonstrate subject competency in a faculty exam.

When asking if they can accelerate their programs, some wonder if they can complete courses in fewer than the standard 15 – or occasionally 7 - weeks. To that question, we must say no. Learning that truly transforms takes time. There are no shortcuts. Our classes encourage active learning in the context of true community with student-to-student and student-to-faculty activities scheduled each week. Students should not expect to accelerate their programs by racing through course requirements and, as a consequence, miss out on developing meaningful learning-focused relationships.

Many students, however, choose to accelerate their programs by taking more than the standard credit hour load each semester.  We do not encourage students to carry a greater credit load in any semester than a balanced personal, family, and ministry life permit.

How long do I have to complete a course?

Most online courses, like their campus counterparts, are 14 weeks in length. On occasion, we do offer a 7-week option for specific 1 or 2 credit hour courses.

When can I enroll in an online course?

Admitted students may enroll online during the Open Enrollment period before each of our three semesters. Click here to view Western’s academic calendar.

Who will be my instructors and will I be able to interact with them during my class?

All of our online classes are taught by highly qualified and experienced instructors. Each one of them is committed to the personal, spiritual, and professional growth of our students. Not only will you have the opportunity to interact with your instructors, but it is also a critical and required component of our class design. Weekly interaction with faculty and with your fellow students ensures a rich learning experience that will help prepare you for a lifetime of effective Christian service.  It is up to you to interact with your professors to get the most out of your education.

Why do online courses cost the same as your campus programs?

At Western Seminary we believe that outcomes achieved through our online program are fully comparable to – though often methodologically different from – those achieved through traditional campus-based study. Students do all the same work and faculty invest themselves equally in the lives of each student, spending as much or more time in support of our online students as they do for our campus students. Western’s online program is not a lesser program in the classroom and our students would be poorly served by a discounted cost structure that might give that impression.

Will my online courses transfer to other schools?

Western Seminary programs, including the online program, are accredited by both the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) and the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS). As a result, Western Seminary credits have been accepted broadly, and by many of the finest educational institutions worldwide. Since the transferability of credits is always determined by the receiving institution, the common recommendation among seminaries is that if you anticipate transferring credits to any other school, you should contact that institution before enrolling for courses, whether residential or online.

Will I have access to Western’s library resources while I am a student?

Absolutely. Western Seminary has developed a rich variety of online library resources to support your academic efforts. For materials not available online, our library team will work with your local library to provide what you need by inter-library loan.   For more information please visit our Library Services page on the Western Seminary website.

I am an international student or prospective international student.   What do I need to know?

As an international student, am I eligible to earn a degree fully online?

Western Seminary desires to meet you where you are in your journey. If you decide to stay in your home country, we are delighted to offer you a rigorous education as a Global student Online Degrees - Western Seminary.   

See this site for more information for international Students  (International Student Website)

Can I succeed if I am not a skilled computer user?

Our online degree programs benefit from advanced delivery and interaction systems that do require access to both basic computer and Internet technologies, and a reasonable measure of computer competence. We’ve carefully developed our systems, however, with the average – not expert - computer user in mind.  We will continue to work with you, regardless of your current skill level, to ensure your success in the online program. Since we first began to offer degree programs online, no student has yet withdrawn because the technologies were too challenging.

What technologies will I need to succeed online?

Almost any recent Windows™ or Macintosh™ computer capable of accessing the Internet and displaying high-definition video content will serve you well.   You will also need to be capable of reading and writing Microsoft Word-format™ documents.

We strongly recommend that students invest in a quality, reasonably powerful computer and a consistent high-speed broadband Internet connection, rather than relying upon work or ministry systems for their studies. Corporate security settings, bandwidth limitations, and usage policies may result in connectivity or function problems that we will be unable to address successfully. When you consider the overall investment of time and resources you, as a student at Western Seminary, are making in your future, having the right tools to promote success and minimize technology-related stress is a very worthwhile – and minimal – educational expense.

Who can I contact for further information?

Prospective Students Admissions Counselors This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Student Advising Erik McFarland This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Current Student Enrollment Mark Baker This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Current Student Academics & Technology Help Requests Jon Raibley This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.