Since this is the season when many begin looking at seminaries and trying to decide which one to attend next year, I thought it would be fitting to repost my advice on how to go about choosing a seminary. This is a difficult and important decision. Unless someone tells you that you have to go to seminary X or they will shoot your dog, you have to sift through a surprisingly large number of schools, weighing things like cost, location, theology, personal fit, and mascot quality. That’s a lot of work.
So I’d like to help. I’ve been in the seminary world for a while now, and I’ve helped students wrestle through this process many times. Some will try to make it far more complicated than it needs to be. Using the right method and a few carefully thought-out steps, here’s how to make this life-changing decision more manageable.
10 Steps for Choosing the Right Seminary
Step 1: Apply to Western Seminary.
Step 2: Pray.
Step 3: Wait anxiously for a response from Western Seminary.
Step 5: Panic.
Step 6: Spend the next several days trying to combat your depression using whatever coping mechanisms are available to you.
Step 7: Apply to Western Seminary again. This time, send your application to the academic dean along with a suitable “love gift offering.”
Step 8: If this is your first visit to Step 8, return to Step 2. If you’ve been here before, I’m sorry, but it’s time to start considering other options. I know it’s painful, but maybe you need to apply to other seminaries. You don’t have to tell anyone, though. Just buy a Western Seminary shirt and wear it a lot. We won’t tell anyone. (If you’re in this camp, William Evans offers some really good advice in On Choosing a Seminary. He’ll help you think through the different kinds of seminaries, so you can pick the next best option for you.)
Step 9: Rejoice!
Step 10: Make fun of those who ignored Step 1 and applied to a different seminary or anyone who gave up at steps 5 or 6. But don’t make fun of the people who had to bail at Step 8; they feel bad enough as it is.
This advice works best for those considering an MA or MDiv. If you already have a masters degree and are looking to advance your training even further with a Th.M. program, you need to modify the process slightly. Don’t bother with steps 1-6. Just skip straight to Step 7, send your love gift to the program director instead, and you’ll be all set.
That’s it! Ten simple steps for choosing the right seminary. Applied carefully, this should make your decision-making process easier and more satisfying. (As an added bonus, it also reduces stress, gives you more energy, fights dandruff, and helps you lose weight.)