When thinking about theological students, vocation means much more than simply the job one performs in order to pay the bills. Lillian Hallstrand of Vanderbilt University Divinity School offers five steps that will help students and those who advise them to navigate vocational discernment on their journey toward employment, beginning with their first contacts with the school and continuing through graduation.
How can I get started and find the right school for me?
If you are considering seminary, you will find a wealth of resources among the more than 270 member schools of ATS, which collectively offer more than 300 approved degrees. View a full listing of the member schools or conduct a tailored search to find the the right program for you. You should start by reviewing the institution’s website, calling or writing the admissions office for an information packet, seeking out current and former students of the school, speaking with your pastor or priest, and visiting the institution.
To learn more about the backgrounds and experiences of students at ATS member schools, view surveys of entering and graduating students and alumni/ae under Student Data. In them, students share their motivations for entering seminary, their financial and family circumstances, their satisfaction with the seminary experience, and their professional plans.
You may also want to explore the Forum for Theological Exploration, which identifies, connects, and supports young people across denominations and backgrounds as they explore or enter vocations in ministry and teaching.
How can I avoid “degree mills”?
You will want to be sure that the school you choose is accredited by a recognized agency. For information about so-called degree mills, please consult Degree Mills: An Old Problem and a New Threat, published by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.