In many Christian denominations, the decision to become a minister requires that the individual attend a seminary school in order to comply with ordination requirements. When evaluating different seminary schools, it is a good idea to consider several basic criteria before applying for admission to any seminary. Some of these criteria include doctrinal stance, accreditation, and practical matters such as scholarships and options in classroom scheduling and format.
When an individual thinks of applying to any theology seminary, it is a good idea to determine the general approach to religious doctrine and practice that is held as the standard by the seminary school. Just as Christianity is composed of many denominations that range from a fundamentalist to liberal approach to the religion, different seminaries also support a wide range of ideologies and approaches to the theological task. If you plan on becoming a minister in a Christian denomination that tends to be very specific in the beliefs it embraces, you would do well to focus your attention on seminaries that are operated by that denomination. At the very least, only consider schools that are judged to utilize approaches to scriptural interpretation and application that are in harmony with the teachings of that denomination.
Another important consideration when evaluating any seminary school is the academic standing of the institution. There are a number of theology schools and seminaries in operation today that are not accredited. While this will make no difference in some Christian denominations, it will be very important in others. An accredited seminary school is more likely to utilize a curriculum that is evaluated and approved by an accrediting agency. As a result, your degree or doctorate is more likely to be acceptable to a wider range of churches.
Just like any form of higher education, attending a seminary school costs money. Look for schools that can offer help in securing scholarships that help to defray part of the costs associated with attending the institution. This can be in the form of national scholarships that can be used at many different schools, or a scholarship that is unique to a particular seminary. Doing so can make it much easier to focus on your studies, since money will be less of an issue.
Depending on your circumstances, you may wish to choose a seminary school that offers non-traditional classes as well as traditional learning situations. Seminary distance learning is more of an option today than at any time in the past. If you plan on continuing to work while earning your degree, being able to attend virtual classes around your work schedule may allow you to complete your studies faster.
Above all, choose a seminary school that you feel offers the best chance to acquire everything you need to be an effective minister. By making sure the seminary is recognized, accredited, affordable, and will provide the best educational opportunity possible, you will shortly identify the right school and be on your way to pursuing the career path you feel led to follow.