Frequently Asked Questions - Global

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 one of the few ATS-accredited seminaries authorized to offer the Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies (MABTS), and Master of Arts in Ministry and Leadership (MAML) degrees online.

Why come to campus for an 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 the online program threshold week?

The Sunday afternoon and evening immediately before classes begin is an important time of orientation. As a new student, you will be introduced to Western Seminary, to the challenges of graduate-level education, and to the unique world of online ministry preparation. You will also meet other students from around the nation – and often from around the world – who will be part of your learning community over the course of your studies.

Do I have to attend a threshold week in my first semester?

It is highly recommended, though we understand that travel, work, and ministry schedules can, on occasion, make it impossible to do so. When that is the case, we encourage you to enroll in your program and to make progress toward your degree even as you arrange to participate in a threshold week event within the first year of your enrollment.

I am engaged in full-time ministry. Will I really 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 are able to 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. The 82-hour MDIV program can also be completed in as few as 3 years, but more commonly students should plan on 4 years for completion. 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 live faculty interview.

When asking if they can accelerate their programs, some wonder if they can complete courses in fewer than the standard 15 – or occasionally 8 - 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. To have that option, students must request a higher load limit and demonstrate consistent learning success over the duration of their programs. 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 15 weeks in length. On occasion, we do offer an 8-week option for specific 1, 2, and 3 credit hour courses.

When can I enroll in an online course?

Admitted students may enroll online during the Open Enrollment period prior to 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 course?

The majority of our online courses are taught by core seminary faculty, and all 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 course 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.

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

The great majority of our online courses are taught by core seminary faculty to the same learning outcomes as our campus courses. Most are media-rich and interactive, and, because students get to keep their courses when the semester ends, that will provide our students with lifelong learning resources that will serve them well in ministry.

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 online credits have been accepted broadly, and by many of the finest educational institutions world-wide. 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 prior to 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. And now, as a Western student enrolled in a degree program, you have the opportunity to purchase the Logos Bible Software Gold package of digital learning resources at a greatly discounted price. You will benefit both during your online studies and for many years thereafter. For more information please visit our Online Campus Library Services page on the Western Seminary website.

I am an international student. Will I still be able to earn a degree online from Western Seminary?

Yes. Western Seminary is approved to accept international students into our online degree programs subject to specific academic, visa and language requirements. For more information, we recommend that you visit the International Students information page or that you contact Mr. Andy Peloquin, our International Student Coordinator, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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. Indeed, during the online admission process, we ask you to complete a brief technology assessment that walks you through each of the tools and processes we use in our online programs and identifies where you may need assistance. And 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. Since Western employs a video download system, computers should have a minimum of 5GB of free space available for each enrolled course, and 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.

Will I have access to your courses on my mobile devices?

Yes. Our online classrooms are fully responsive and function well in both phone and tablet web browsers. Recently, the Online Campus released Integr@te Mobile, our mobile app for Android, Apple, and Amazon Fire mobile devices. Students are able to view and download course media on virtually any device for ease of access, anywhere and anytime.

Why can't I adjust the viewing speed of online course media?

The Online Campus makes no effort to prevent students from playing the media at greater than normal speeds. Our download system makes videos available to be viewed however the student prefers, and we know well that some students choose this option. We don’t, however, believe that it is in the best interests of the students to facilitate “speed listening” by designing it into our delivery systems. Why?

Our first commitment as an institution is not to convenience but to student learning and growth. Western’s online students benefit from unparalleled access to the instructional resources of the seminary and are largely able to study when, where, and how they choose. Flexibility that provides access and promotes student success, however, must not be confused with simple convenience or preference. Online study is not, and should not be, easier or faster than residential study. The media-viewing obligations for our online courses are already 25% to 50% less than what is required of campus students who must be in a residential classroom. Moreover, the media-viewing time is calculated into the total engagement hours required by our accreditors and the Department of Education as indicators of a quality education. Designing into our systems the ability to accelerate instructional delivery even further, sends the message that the seminary is less serious about the quality of instruction received by our online students than we are for our residential students. Further, it undercuts our ongoing efforts to promote recognition of our online graduates and conferred degrees as truly the equals of our residential graduates and programs. Promoting what may be perceived as learning shortcuts for our online students is not the way, we believe, to achieve that goal.

Too, one must not confuse speed listening with speed learning. Our students are engaging eternal life-changing truths and ideas that require time to hear, understand, and connect to their lives and ministries. Reflection that leads to personal application is not simply a desirable aspect of a seminary education, but a necessity. It would border on malfeasance on the part of the seminary to facilitate superficial study patterns. (Would any of us want our doctors to have sped through their lectures simply because they could? Probably not. Still, as physicians study to deal with physical challenges, our students are studying to minister to the eternal, spiritual needs of others which are arguably even more important. Our mission as a seminary is to serve as a catalyst for spiritual transformation which requires the full focus and attention of both students and faculty and which cannot be mechanically accelerated.) We believe that it is materially different to accelerate through a song, podcast, or TV program than it is to accelerate mechanically through a theology course or program for which students are making a significant financial investment and upon which our receiving churches are placing their trust.

Western’s program strives to provide our online students with a comparable learning experience to that of our residential students. We use our core faculty to create media-rich courses so that our online students are equally able to benefit from the profound insights and experience of our instructors. We value the teaching role of our faculty, and we know that excellent teaching occurs as much in the pauses as in the speaking. We choose to honor our faculty and their teaching, and we strive always to ensure that our online students benefit equally from their instruction.

Why do you ask me to download rather than stream my course content?

You always have the option to stream rather than download content. We have developed the Integr@te Content Delivery System, however, to uniquely benefit our students. Among these benefits are:

  • Internet service disruptions and slowing continue to confound the streaming media experience and frustrate viewers. Student learning is negatively impacted when required course media repeatedly pauses and re-buffers. Offline viewing allows you to experience media playback stutter-free, and to work where no online access is available.
  • You are able to catalog and maintain course media for years after your online courses end. Western Seminary is committed to promoting and supporting lifelong learning, and we encourage our graduates to revisit their course content and reinforce learning even as you serve in ministry.
  • The Integr@te Download Manager allows students to download courses in non-peak hours when web traffic is lightest and download speeds are at their highest. Should the download manager encounter a temporary connection “hiccup”, it will continue to retry behind the scenes until download is complete.
  • The Integr@te Media Viewer provides advanced user functions such as media bookmarking (with notes), media resizing, a separate graphics viewer that can be synchronized to the course media or viewed independently, and greater media replay flexibility. Media selections also auto-advance when viewing is complete.
  • A customizable calendar function allows you to import the class schedule into Integr@te to ensure timely progress.
  • Other Bible study and research tools allow you to work within Integr@te even as you view course media resources.

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. 
Online Student Advising & General Program Interest Keane Collins 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 Jon Raibley This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Technology Help Requests Staff This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.