You're making your list and starting to plan your visits to prospective seminaries. You haven't finished all your applications yet and you still have confusion and doubts about some of the schools on your list. Not all the information you're interested in is listed on the website, besides, you've never gone to seminary before. Maybe it's even a relatively new idea, so you're not sure what questions to ask. We totally understand. It's like that moment during the icebreaker introductions when you're asked to share an interesting fact about yourself and suddenly you panic because you can't think of one single thing. It's not just you, it happens to all of us. So here's a roundup of the best questions to ask your prospective seminaries' admissions office.
What is required to apply for admission? What makes an application stand out? What are the deadlines? How many terms are there? Is it a quarter or semester system? When do the terms start (i.e. January for Spring semester)? Are there summer classes, January or August terms, or seminars that condense classes? Do you offer evening, weekend, or online programs? How long do I have to complete the degree? Can I complete the degree by going part time? How many classes do I need to take at a time? Are merit scholarships available and how do I qualify? What kind of financial aid does the school offer apart from merit scholarships? What denomination is this school/university based out of? If ecumenical, how does the school define ecumenical and what evidence is there that the school is truly diverse in tradition? Does your seminary help prepare for ordination exams? Where did the professors go to seminary? Are they all from the same one or two institutions and what are those institutions like? What are their research interests and how have they contributed to the academy? What have your graduates done with their degree? What is your view of women in ministry/leadership and/or LGBT leaders in the church? What are some of the churches or community partners that you are affiliated with? Are there study abroad programs or other enrichment programs? Do these programs offer credit? What is the cost? Does the school or university affiliated participate in any political or social action? What does this tell you about the school's ethos and it's place on the liberalism vs. conservatism scale? Who leads chapel and what style or tradition is prevalent? Does every service fit into the model of one or two traditions? Are all the speakers/leaders from outside the community? How do students participate? Does the school offer part time positions like workstudy or graduate assistantships? How are students selected and compensated for these positions? Do you offer dual degrees, cooperative programs, or internships/fellowships outside the area of traditional ministry? What are some of the focuses/strengths of the curriculum? Is there a global focus that includes voices from diverse cultures across the world? How does the curriculum prepare students for ministry in a global context? Do you assign mentors or advisors or have covenant communities? If so, how are those people matched and what are their responsibilities? What support do you offer to students registering for classes and planning their course progression? What support do you offer students with financial planning, loan counseling, and literacy? What support is there for graduating students or alumni searching for a ministry position? Why should I not go there? (force them to be honest; what do they lack that you might value)