San Jose Online Orientation

San Jose Online Orientation

The Student Services Staff would like to welcome you to Western Seminary!  We are delighted that you have chosen us for your educational and ministerial pursuits.  As a student at Western Seminary, you will receive the highest quality of theological education available.  Our faculty members desire to personally invest in your life and to serve you with their expertise and wisdom in their respective fields.

As a new student, we would like to equip you with everything you need to make your transition as smooth as possible.  Students at Western need to know: how to register for classes, where to access grades, how our advising works, how tuition is paid, and much more.

The purpose of this orientation is to help you become familiar with the way things work at Western Seminary.  If you have not yet applied or been admitted, please contact our Enrollment Department for further assistance.

We believe this Online Orientation and the time spent in preparation will have significant benefits throughout your time at Western.  Please read this orientation carefully, and feel free to contact us afterwards if you have any questions that have not been answered. 


Student Handbook

Our Student Handbook includes all of the important policies and procedures that relate to student life at Western -- from academic information, to guidelines for conduct and character, to special student programs and benefits. It's available online and we ask that you familiarize yourself with its contents. In addition to providing you with helpful information and resources, the Student Handbook serves as a contract between you and the school.


Communicating with Western Seminary


Western Seminary's primary way of communicating with you is by e-mail. We use email to notify you when you have been registered for a class, inform you of changes in the class schedule, and stay in touch about important issues. Therefore, it is imperative that you have an email address that you check regularly. You will receive emails from the Western family in Portland, San Jose and Sacramento--be sure to read every email that has an suffix.


You are welcome to schedule an appointment with a staff or faculty member anytime. All staff and faculty members schedule their own appointments, but if you are having trouble contacting someone, simply call our main number (408.356.6889) and listen for the extension that fits your needs. Let us know how we can connect!

E-mail is Western's primary source of communication. Be sure to read all emails with the suffix.

Registration and Graduation

It's never too early to think about graduating.  No one starts seminary with the goal of not finishing!  As part of your learning community, we count it a great accomplishment as you cross the finish line, so graduation is a big deal to us right from the get-go.


It is vital to your success as a student that you keep in frequent contact with your academic advisor. Therefore, once you are admitted to Western Seminary and are considering which courses to take first, please contact your academic advisor (assigned to you in your admission letter) to set up an appointment. He or she will be extremely helpful in guiding you through the courseload that would be best for you in light of your family, work, and ministry commitments. Your advisor will also help you with course selection, informing you of the recommended sequence of courses for your particular degree program.

Before beginning your training or within the first two months, you will need to meet with your advisor to map out your plan for graduation.  We call it your Graduation Plan for Success (Grad Plan); it is simply a roadmap that shows what you are taking and when.  Don't worry if you aren't sure; almost every student changes this plan at least once during their tenure.  Sometimes this is because life happens and other times it is because you find an elective you really want to take.

The key questions your advisor will ask are:

  • How many credits do you want to take at a time?
  • When do you want to graduate?



Western holds three terms each Academic Year: Fall, Spring and Summer.  The months for Open Registration are July (for fall), November (for Spring) and March (for Summer).  During the Open Registration Period, students may add/drop courses without a fee.  If you don't add any courses during Open Registration, you will be charged a one time $50 Late Registration fee to subsequently add courses. After Open Registration, there is a $25 drop fee. Students may register for classes up until the Friday before the first day of the term.  It is important to register early because of the following reasons and more:

  • Some courses require assignments prior to the first class session.
  • Some courses may be in jeopardy of closing for lack of registrants.
  • Books need to be ordered in time for course assignments to be completed.

Details on how to register through your Student Information System account (SIS) are found on the next page.

The Student Information System (SIS)

Your online student information account provides you with a variety of student services accessible from anywhere with internet access. You can add and drop classes, pay your tuition, submit academic or financial petitions, check grades, and update your personal information (address, email, phone number, etc.)

Online Registration

All admitted students will need to register for their courses on the Western Seminary website via the Student Information System (SIS).

  1. To enter the Student Information System, click the link in the upper right hand corner of the website.
  2. If it is your first time logging into SIS, you will first need a SemConnect Account. To obtain one, navigate to New User Account page, then enter your personal information. You will receive a notification then asking you to create a new password. Once you have done so, you will re-login using your new username (firstname.lastname) and the password you have just created.
  3. You’ll see a page with your general information (i.e. name, address, email address, degree program, etc.) and a menu of student services options.  Click on the “Registration” link.
  4. Select campus location, semester, and credit/audit. Then select "View."
  5. Read the “Important Information.”  Click “I have read the above.”  (This information provides students with add and drop deadlines, the refund schedule, late fee schedule, etc.)
  6. Now you can register.  You will see a list of courses organized alphabetically by the course ID number (i.e. CNS 501M, DBS 506M).  Next to each available course, you can add to a cart. Above the course listing, you will find a shopping cart icon, where you can review your selctions.
  7. Once you’ve selected your courses, click "Review Cart." Here, you can make changes to your course selection, get more information, etc.
  8. Click the “Submit for Registration” button to make sure each of your courses reads “Submitted.”  Your registration will not be complete without this step!

If you run into any problems with SIS Registration, please contact Student Services.

Enrollment Options

Since we believe in making a seminary education more accessible to those who want formal biblical and theological training, Western Seminary makes an intentional effort to provide various enrollment options for students.

Think of it like a buffet with multiple tables of food: some items are at five tables and others are stationed at only two or one.  The options can be overwhelming, but we hear from students that accessibility of course delivery is one of Western Seminary's great features. Below are the two primary options.

Residential Courses

Residential courses are classes that meet on campus. Each of our master’s programs require that at least a certain number of credits be completed on campus as “residential” courses, though students are not required to live near to or on campus to complete them (visit the Degrees for details). These on-campus courses are known as our Traditional Course offerings. Traditional semester classes meet most weeknights and/or Saturdays for 4-5 hour blocks.

There are also two other options for residential courses. Hybrid Ministry Schedule Option courses are geared for students coming from a distance to take a course on-campus in two and a half days. The Monday Schedule Option is a scheduling option open to students who prefer attending classes on Mondays rather than weeknights or Saturdays. You can view these courses or the upcoming semester in our course schedule

Non-Residential Courses

Non-Residential enrollment options include Online courses and Hybrid courses. Online courses allow students to view class lectures on a computer, collaborate with fellow classmates online, and connect with a course instructor. With more than 80 courses on demand, this option is ideal for students unable to make it on campus. Hybrid courses integrate online course content with intensive off-campus class sessions, combining the strengths of distance education with in-class interaction with other students and faculty.

Recently we have been offering live Video-streamed courses. More information will be coming on these, but these are considered non-residential, unless otherwise stated.

For more information, visit Accessible Scheduling.

Course Syllabi & Books

Course syllabi are posted on our website prior to the start of each new semester. Reviewing course syllabi, in conjunction with consulting with your advisor, is a great way to help you make a decision about which courses to take. Syllabi include course descriptions, objectives, assignments, as well as a list of required textbooks for each course. Western Seminary's San Jose campus does not have a campus bookstore, therefore required textbooks need to be purchased through or similar websites. Amazon links are provided in the course syllabi.

Course Syllabi

A Great Giving Opportunity
If you would like to help support the training mission of Western Seminary, you can use this Amazon search link to order your books and other products from As an Amazon Associate, the Western Seminary system in Oregon and California benefits from each qualifying purchase - and all at no cost to you!

Paying Tuition

Tuition is due in full the Friday before the start of the semester, regardless of when the class meets for the first time. A student may not secure grade reports, transcripts, or attend classes in any subsequent semester, if s/he has not completed payment for courses already taken. Please be diligent about planning your finances each and every semester. You are welcome to pay tuition online through our Student Information System (by credit card or e-check).

Please feel free to contact the Cashier, Char Rose, to discuss your balance, make a payment, or ask questions related to tuition. She is available at 503.517.1888 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

TuitionPay Monthly Payment Plan

If it is not possible for you to pay tuition in full during the first week of the semester, an alternative payment plan is available through HigherOne TuitionPay. (There is a charge associated with this service.) TuitionPay allows students to make monthly payments on tuition. Please note that you should enroll with TuitionPay soon after you register if you plan to use their services during your first semester at Western Seminary.

TuitionPay Plan

Financial Aid

We make every effort to keep the tuition at Western Seminary as low as possible. In fact, a significant portion of your educational costs are not even charged to you as tuition, they are subsidized by donors who have chosen to support students like you.

Nevertheless, there are still costs involved and our Financial Aid Office maintains a webpage with a variety of options for tuition assistance. Options range from scholarships, loans, grants, and more. If you qualify for financial aid, or plan to apply for a federal loan, you will want to be aware of the necessary credit loads required to continue receiving funding. Students receiving the Seminary's need based grant or the President's Pathway Scholarship will need to complete 15 credits over the course of an academic year (three consecutive semesters) to requalify for the following year. Students wishing to reapply for a federal loan will first need to complete at least two semesters and 10 credits of training. For more information regarding the financial aid process, please call the Financial Aid Office at 503.517.1814, or Ashley Mitchell at 503.517.1819

The staff at the San Jose campus know very little about any financial relationship you have with the seminary, so it is best to simply call our financial aid department directly at 503.517.1814.

The financial aid webpage is certainly a great place to start!


Disabilities Accommodation Information

Disability Services at Western Seminary is committed to providing students with disabilities equal access to programs and services on our campus. We work to create an environment where students with disabilities on our campus are welcomed, valued, and respected by all members of our community.

By federal law (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990), a person with a disability is any person who:

  1. Has a physical or mental impairment;
  2. Has a record of such impairment; or
  3. Is regarded as having such an impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities such as self-care, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, or learning.

Disability Services reviews requests for academic accommodations due to a disability and makes recommendations as appropriate.

Application for Accommodations

What process do I undergo to be tested for a disability?

If you think you might have a disability but have never been tested, contact Ashley Mitchell and she can discuss testing options off-campus. Due to the expertise and time involved, some tests may have a fee which is the responsibility of the student.

What is the process to receive an accommodation?

  1. Contact the Student Services Director
  2. Request documentation and apply for an ADA Accommodation
  3. Submit application to Disability Services
  4. Student Services Coordinator will contact student in regards to accommodation options
  5. If approved, a letter will be generated to the students’ professors
  6. Ongoing support and communication will take place throughout each semester

Transfer Credit

Western Seminary is designed to train students who have never had any previous theological education. However, you may have recently graduated from a Bible college, Christian university, graduate school or seminary. If that’s the case, you might qualify for transfer credit or advance standing. Please review the Transfer Credit & Advanced Standing Memo to find out more about these options.

Transfer Credits

Students who have completed relevant graduate-level studies at another institution may be eligible for transfer credit. Normally, transfer credits are accepted from schools accredited by the Association of Theological Schools or regional accrediting associations. For credit to be granted, the student must be admitted to a degree program, and the previous work must be approximately parallel (80% or higher equivalence) to the content of a Western Seminary course. If you believe you are eligible to receive transfer credit, please submit the Transfer Credit Request Form prior to or during your first semester of enrollment at Western Seminary.

Advanced Standing/Advanced Substitutes

Students who enter seminary with knowledge of the Bible, theology, hermeneutics, etc., may be eligible for advanced standing and/or advanced substitutes. Students will be tested on their current knowledge of the course content, usually in an informal interview. If the evaluator determines that the student has a competent, current understanding of approximately 80% of the course content, then the student would be eligible for advanced standing and/or advanced substitutes. The following comparison will help you understand the difference between advanced standing and advanced substitutes:

Advanced standing
Credits are waived from the degree program, reducing the number of credits required for degree completion.

Advanced substitutes
The substitution of advanced divisional courses for required courses (no actual reduction in credits).

Applicants or admitted students who believe they may be qualified for advanced standing/advanced substitutes should submit the Advanced Standing Request Form.

Please note that students must complete advanced standing assessments prior to or during their first semester of enrollment at Western Seminary.


We've done our best to answer some of your basic questions through this Online Orientation. We realize that more questions might arise for you as you begin registering for courses and transitioning to becoming a student, so please feel free to contact our Student Services staff at 408.356.6889, ext. 405.

From this point forward, we hope to provide all the information you need through our San Jose Students page. Please bookmark it and look there for needs and answers to questions.


If you're moving to the San Jose region, or you're not familiar with the area, you might consider checking out some of the links on the right side bar under "Campus and Area."

We are always praying for you. We know that you have already invested much time seeking God in this process. Continue to do so; we know that he will surely bless your journey. If you ever have any prayer needs or requests, whether it be for your studies, your family, your friends, or whatever, feel free to call or meet up with any of the Student Services Team, so that we may bless, serve, and encourage you. We are sure that "he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6).

Again if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact our Student Services staff at Western Seminary. We are here to serve you however we can.

Thanks for taking the time to read through Western's Online Orientation!

All incoming students are required to attend the on-campus orientation on Monday, August 20 from 6-9:30pm.

We look forward to serving you this semester.

In order to complete this online orientation, please take the orientation quiz.

Orientation Quiz