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Wondering what seminary is like?

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Many people considering a theological degree ask some great questions about the world around them and their place in it. Here is a summary of some of those questions:

All of Northeastern Seminary's programs can be completed 100% fully online with no requirement to come to campus.

For those who want to take in-person classes, some courses will offer in-person options at our campus in Rochester, N.Y., however, every program will be able to be completed without coming to campus.

You might be surprised. The most frequent question often is unstated. It's "Can I do this?" This question reflects the desire to discern whether seminary is the right path for personal and professional development, as well as how it fits into an individual's overall life trajectory. It encompasses various aspects, such as examining one's sense of calling, clarifying career aspirations, and evaluating the potential impact of seminary education on personal growth and fulfillment.

Answering this question involves considering factors such as one's passion for theological study, alignment with religious beliefs and values, the desired role within a faith community, and the potential for future career opportunities. It also involves reflecting on the practical implications, such as the financial investment, time commitment, and the potential impact on personal relationships and other life responsibilities.

By addressing this central question, individuals can gain clarity and confidence in their decision to pursue seminary, ensuring that it aligns with their broader life goals and aspirations.

One common concern is the financial aspect of pursuing a theological education. Seminary education often involves tuition fees, living expenses, and potentially reducing or leaving a current job to attend full-time. The financial burden of seminary can be a significant consideration, particularly for individuals who may have existing financial responsibilities, such as student loans, family obligations, or limited personal resources.

At Northeastern Seminary you can attend from anywhere in the world through our online programs and can attend our programs part-time. Both of these options create opportunities for all individuals to fit their graduate program into their lives.

Other concerns may include:

  • Career prospects and employment opportunities after completing seminary: Individuals may wonder about the practicality of finding employment in their desired field, particularly in an increasingly diverse and changing religious landscape. Concerns about job stability and the ability to support oneself or a family can arise.
  • Balancing academic rigor with personal and spiritual growth: Seminary education requires a substantial commitment of time and energy, which can impact personal relationships, family dynamics, and self-care. Some individuals may worry about finding a balance between academic demands, spiritual formation, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • Integration of faith and academic study: Balancing intellectual inquiry and critical thinking with personal faith and spiritual beliefs can be challenging. Some individuals may have concerns about how their theological education will impact their personal beliefs or their ability to engage with diverse perspectives.
  • Emotional and spiritual challenges: Engaging with theological and philosophical concepts, grappling with existential questions, and confronting personal limitations can be emotionally and spiritually challenging. Individuals may have concerns about how they will navigate these challenges and grow personally and spiritually during their time in seminary.

Addressing these concerns involves careful research, seeking advice from trusted mentors or advisors, and reflecting on personal goals and values. It can also be helpful to reach out to seminary admissions offices, current students, or alumni who can provide insights and guidance based on their own experiences.

I have talked to thousands of people about starting seminary. While individual motivations and circumstances for those who consider theological education may vary, the common thread of a deep sense of calling and the pursuit of a transformative religious education are key aspects that unite students considering this direction. This overarching desire to explore and deepen their relationship with their faith is a powerful factor.

When considering a theological graduate degree, individuals may have personal questions related to their lives and purpose. Here are some common personal questions people may ask:

  • What is the meaning and purpose of my life, and how can a theological graduate degree help me explore and understand it?
  • How will pursuing a theological graduate degree impact my personal faith and spiritual journey?
  • Will a theological graduate degree provide me with a deeper understanding of my religious beliefs and help me reconcile any doubts or questions I may have?
  • How can a theological education help me develop the skills and knowledge necessary to make a positive difference in the lives of others and serve my community?
  • Will pursuing a theological graduate degree help me develop a stronger connection to my religious community or provide opportunities for leadership within my faith tradition?
  • What role does theology play in addressing social justice issues and fostering positive change in the world, and how can I contribute to these efforts through a theological education?
  • How can a theological graduate degree support my personal growth, character development, and ethical decision-making?
  • Will a theological education provide me with the tools to engage in meaningful dialogue and bridge gaps between different religious traditions and worldviews?
  • How will pursuing a theological graduate degree impact my relationships with family, friends, and my broader social circle?
  • Will a theological graduate degree open up new avenues for personal and professional fulfillment, and how can I align my passion and calling with my career aspirations?

These personal questions reflect individuals' desire to explore their own spirituality, gain a deeper understanding of their religious beliefs, and find ways to make a meaningful impact in their lives and the lives of others. Engaging with these questions can help individuals discern whether pursuing a theological graduate degree aligns with their personal values, goals, and aspirations.

Throughout seminary, individuals can find a variety of answers and experiences that contribute to their personal and spiritual growth. Here are some common areas where individuals often find answers during their seminary journey:

  • Deepened theological understanding: Seminary offers a rich academic environment where individuals delve into the study of Scripture, theology, church history, ethics, and other relevant disciplines. Through rigorous coursework, engaging discussions, and interactions with knowledgeable faculty, students gain a deeper understanding of religious teachings, traditions, and theological perspectives.
  • Formation of personal beliefs and convictions: Seminary provides a space for individuals to critically engage with their own beliefs and wrestle with important theological questions. Students often find answers as they explore different theological perspectives, engage in spiritual practices, and engage in dialogue with fellow students and professors. This process allows for the formation of personal beliefs and convictions that are grounded in intellectual rigor and personal reflection.
  • Practical ministry skills: Seminary programs often include opportunities for practical ministry training. Through internships, fieldwork, and supervised ministry experiences, students develop practical skills in areas such as preaching, pastoral care, counseling, worship leadership, and community engagement. These experiences help students find answers about their own abilities, vocational aspirations, and the practical application of their theological knowledge.
  • Formation of character and personal growth: Seminary education is not solely focused on intellectual pursuits but also on the holistic development of individuals. Students often find answers about their own character, values, and personal growth through the integration of spiritual formation activities, reflection on ethical dilemmas, engagement with diverse perspectives, and intentional community life within the seminary.
  • Deepened sense of vocation and calling: Seminary can be a transformative period for discerning and clarifying one's vocation and calling. Through exposure to different ministry contexts, theological reflection, and mentorship from faculty and spiritual leaders, students often find answers that help them discern their unique gifts, passions, and the specific ways they are called to serve in their faith communities and the wider world.
  • Supportive community and lifelong relationships: Seminary often fosters a sense of community where students form meaningful connections with fellow students, faculty, and alumni. These relationships provide support, encouragement, and mentorship. Students find answers and a sense of belonging as they journey together, engage in shared experiences, and build lifelong friendships and professional networks.
  • Enhanced critical thinking and communication skills: Seminary education promotes critical thinking, analytical skills, and effective communication. Through engaging with diverse viewpoints, rigorous academic study, and opportunities for public speaking and writing, students develop the ability to articulate their ideas, engage in constructive dialogue, and contribute to broader conversations within their faith communities and society.

It's important to note that answers obtained in seminary are often a result of an ongoing process of exploration and growth. Seminary serves as a foundation, equipping individuals with knowledge, skills, and experiences that empower them to continue seeking answers throughout their lives and ministries.

What does life as an online student look like?

Watch as Janice Lum walks you through her virtual campus to engage in discussions with her professor and classmates, submit assignments, and grow in her faith and understanding.

Online classes allow Janice to continue her seminary education while accomplishing her responsibilities as a pastor and as a homeschooling mother of three.

Meet Your Admissions Team

The admissions team speaks to hundreds of people who are exploring their calling through a seminary degree. You can speak to someone on our team by clicking the image below.

Because we are made in God’s image, we humans are interconnected with every part of the universe, especially every part of the earth’s biosphere and we have power that reaches throughout the created world.

Nonna Verna Harrison, God’s Many-Splendored Image: Theological Anthropology for Christian Foundation