Prospective Students | Frequently Asked Questions About Seminary
What is the Core?
At the heart of the M.Div. and M.A. degree programs is the Core
curriculum consisting of courses that integrate the traditional
studies of biblical and systematic theology, church history,
spiritual formation and Biblical interpretation. These courses
combine for a 9-credit semester in an integrated, holistic and
non-sectarian approach. For more information about our integrated
curriculum, click here.
What is meant by Post-Core?
These are courses offered to complete the M.A. and M.Div.
degrees after the Core courses are completed-some are required in
the degree and others are electives.
When are courses offered?
All master's level coursework is offered in evening blocks, one
evening per week. Students enrolled in the Core meet Tuesday or
Thursday night from 6 - 10 p.m. Those who enroll in the fall term
have class on Thursday night. Those who begin in the spring meet on
Tuesday evening. Post-Core courses are offered on Monday nights and
are open to students who have completed the first Core class in
their first semester.
Who can take courses at NES?
Students with an accredited bachelor's degree may take courses
for graduate credit or for audit. To take a class for credit means
you will complete all assignments and be graded; to audit means you
will attend class for personal enrichment only and will not be
graded. Those who have not yet been admitted to the seminary may
take up to 6 credit hours of courses per term as unclassified
students, and up to a maximum of 12 credit hours overall, before
needing to be admitted into the Core on a full-time basis.
For those who do not have an accredited bachelor's degree,
consider taking certificate courses at NES through the Certificate in
Theological Studies (CTS) or its Hispanic-focused El Centro Hispano de
Estudios Teológicos (CHET). Learn more by visiting the Web site
or by requesting information from the admissions office.
Is your coursework easier than traditionally scheduled
No, this is an academically rigorous graduate level curriculum.
Students will invest around 15-25 hours each week in research,
reading, and writing. Most students find they can balance their
course work along with family and employment (30-40 hour/week)
Do your classes meet year-round?
No. Students can take up to two months off depending on whether
or not they enroll in our "summer term" that takes place in May and
June for elective courses. Classes resume in late August.
What are faith sharing groups (FSGs)?
FSGs are an integral part of the personal and spiritual
formation curriculum at NES. FSGs are small groups comprised of
8-10 students that meet every other week for 60-90 minutes during
FSGs are not traditional small groups: while mutually supportive
and focused on our personal growth and relationship with Jesus
Christ, they are not specifically aimed at counseling or
Each group is assigned a trained facilitator who leads the group
in listening to God and each other, and in giving expression to how
God is growing them at the moment. The experience is formative
rather than instructional and thus respects the diversity of
Christian traditions represented in each group.
Do lay leaders participate in these master's degree
Absolutely! Many of our students are employed outside full-time
parish ministry and serve as social workers, professors, police
officers, engineers, lawyers, nurses, teachers, and the list goes
on. Our students have typically been in long-term lay ministry and
long to deepen their biblical knowledge.
What is the difference between the master's degree
The M.Div. degree is a professional degree preparing individuals
for Christian leadership. It is the preferred (and in many
denominations - the required) degree for pursuing pastoral,
ordained ministries (i.e. senior pastors, missionaries, chaplains,
etc.). In the M.Div. program individuals require more foundation in
Biblical studies, theology and in practical ministry disciplines
such as preaching, counseling, teaching, administrating, and
leadership. Today's church leader must be skilled in many
The M.A.-Theological Studies degree, while providing the same
foundational studies (Core), focuses less on extensive preparation
for pastoral leadership and more on specific subject areas and
theological fields of study. Traditionally, it is the degree of
preference for those going into deaconate (lay), or Ph.D. studies
for the teaching profession.
The M.A. in Transformational Leadership is a professional degree
that equips leaders for a variety of ministry contexts including
non-profit, parachurch and community based settings. The degree
builds on the foundation of a deep, sustained engagement with
biblical and historic Christian thought.
The M.A. in Theology and Social Justice is a professional degree
for people working in local churches, missions, global justice
ministries, social work, and social policy. The program is designed
to address the effects of poverty, violence, and discrimination at
all levels of society.
Some denominations and independent churches will ordain
individuals with the M.A. degree.
How long will it take to finish these
The M.Div. degree can be completed in four years and the M.A.
degrees can be completed in two to three years. For the dual degree
programs offered concurrently with the Master in Social Work with
Roberts Wesleyan College, M.A. students should anticipate about
four years to complete both degrees and M.Div. students about five
years to complete both degrees.
How does NES facilitate community in an adult commuter
Because we believe that community is a vital aspect to spiritual
growth, in addition to class discussions and faith sharing groups,
we offer community and cohort chapels, spiritual retreats for
groups as well as the entire seminary body (including alumni),
student receptions, online course forums, and conferences. Many of
these events are optional, but exist to foster an atmosphere of
Why cohorts? What is a cohort?
A cohort is simply a group of individuals with something in
common. At NES, the commonality is that each cohort starts and
moves through the Core in a group ranging from about 20-24
students. Cohorts are large enough for mutual support, good flow of
ideas, etc., and small enough for you to be known as much as you
wish to be known. Learning, personal growth, and persistence in the
program are all enhanced in the community of a cohort. Outside the
Core, students' course schedules are designed individually.
How can I afford seminary?
Several scholarships and options for financial aid are available
to students. Please visit the financial aid section of our
website for more information.
What are my financial aid options
There are several loan and grant options available to students.
You must complete your FAFSA application online before ANY aid can
be disbursed. NES also offers an interest-free monthly tuition
payment option with Nelnet for masters
students. Other available scholarship applications will be
made available following your first year of study.
Where do you stand theologically? Are you conservative,
liberal, evangelical, charismatic?
We have chosen not to be aligned with any of those terms, not
because they cannot be descriptive, but because they are more often
divisive. NES, though it has a Wesleyan heritage, is defined more
by being centered on those Christian teachings that have been
"believed everywhere, always, and by all people" (Vincent of
Lérins). We have chosen to speak of ourselves as being rooted in
the classic Christian faith. We take a firm stand on those
traditional tenets of the Christian as defined by the Church in the
Old and New Testament of Scripture.
Click here to
read the NES theological position. We welcome all Christians and
seek not to promote any one denomination or theological
perspective, but rather to enable each student to become effective
ministers of Christ.
My denomination requires specific coursework for
NES serves students from some 30 church denominations, many
offering varying requirements. We recommend that you meet with an
NES faculty advisor to make sure your denomination requirements are
met during your time at NES.