For those who wish to have a future career in ministry, are seeking to learn more about theology, or are interested in someday teaching the foundations of their faith to others, seminary or divinity school can be a great final destination. Peace had the privilege of speaking with two seminary students about their reasons for wanting to attend seminary, their experiences there, and their future goals after earning their degrees.
Peace: What can help future students decide which theological Seminary to attend?
Glenn Hawley, manager at LifeWay Christian Store in College Station and graduate student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary:
When you start to look at different seminaries you really should consider your denomination. I talked to a guy just a few days ago who will be going to Duke Divinity. I asked him, ‘What made you choose there?’ and he said that his denomination didn’t really have a divinity school and that Duke was the closest theologically that would associate to his denomination. There are non-denominational seminaries out there as well, like Gordon-Conwell and Dallas Theological, but even those are likely to be bent towards a certain theology.
Peace: What have your experiences with some of the professors taught you?
Glenn: Really what the professors believe is what they will most likely teach, so what most people look for in a seminary is ‘what do I believe in, and does this school believe along the same lines so that I’m not fighting against every theological matter that is presented.’
Peace: How is Seminary usually viewed as far as being a step in someone’s career?
Glenn: Typically speaking, seminary is the next level so it’s going to be a little bit more of a mature atmosphere. People are there more because they want to be. A lot of people go to small community or even state colleges as astepping stone to get somewhere else, whereas, seminary is the place you want to be. I would say that it might be slightly more important on where you choose your seminary than where you choose your college.
Peace: When did you know you wanted to attend seminary?
Hillary McMullin, First year student at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Houston:
Seminary wasn’t something that I had been contemplating since high school or undergrad. It was a pretty quick decision, which is unusual for me. I’ve been working with a youth group for about a year and half, and I decided to look into seminary because I want to be able to lead, teach, and minister to them to the best of my ability.
Peace: What did the application process look like?
Hillary: The application process was made much simpler for me because I work for the church where the seminary is housed, and I already knew the staff. All I had to do was fill out a short application, find three references, and send in my undergrad transcript. The seminary staff also helped me get financial aid.
Peace: Could you describe one of your favorite memories so far?
Hillary: The class that I took last semester was on Friday nights and all day on Saturdays. This doesn’t sound very scholarly or academic, but my favorite memory is going out to eat for lunch as a class on Saturdays. It was nice getting to know my classmates and hearing their stories.
Peace: What advice would you give to graduate students who may be thinking of attending seminary?
Hillary: If you at all feel like seminary is something you would want to do or that God is leading you there, don’t be afraid to look into it. There are a lot of online options if moving or attending actual classes isn’t an option. Also, there are many different types of degree plans available. If you’re looking for something less intensive there are degree plans that are only around 30 hours instead of 60, and many seminaries have plenty of financial aid opportunities as well if money is an issue.
It is safe to assume that the goal of every theological school is to provide Christ-centered, higher education to the men and women that will continue to impact the world through their many different careers. Theological seminaries and Divinity schools around the world have broadened their Master’s Degree and Doctorate degree programs to range from Biblical counseling, Media Arts and Worship, Christian Leadership, Urban Ministry, Christian Education, Church History, Cross-Cultural Ministry, Biblical Exegesis & Linguistics, and many more.This article was published in Peace: Brazos Christian Life Magazine, Second Edition, Second Issue, Easter 2014.