Is Online Seminary School Right for You? What to Consider

This article appears in the Stories edition of the Calvin Seminary Forum

Online education has become increasingly popular, with many schools adding to their offerings of online degrees each year. Seminary degrees have also adapted to reach learners where they are, offering a variety of options for course delivery—including online classes.

Online Seminary vs. On Campus: What’s the Difference?

Taking seminary courses fully online means that your coursework can be done without ever setting foot on campus. The best seminaries ensure that online learning provides a quality education that is on par with in-person learning.

At Calvin Theological Seminary (CTS), you’ll receive a rigorous and formative, graduate-level theological education no matter your course delivery format. For many programs, you can choose between in-person, online, or hybrid distance learning — or a combination of these options.

Benefits of Online Seminary

If you would like to study online while continuing in your current ministry role or other vocation, Calvin’s distance learning programs are designed to support you. Here are some ways that these programs help you remain in your current job while studying at seminary:

  • No time lost: You can continue your important, Spirit-led work of cultivating communities of disciples right now, with no time away from your ministry or organization.
  • Investment in your current community: If you feel led to remain rooted in your current community, wherever you find yourself in the world, you can stay among your neighbors with Calvin’s flexible learning options.
  • Financial footing: God provides for all of our needs, and Calvin is committed to helping you create a wise financial plan for your time at seminary. The majority of Calvin students graduate seminary without any new debt. This is made possible partly because some seminary students continue to work at least part-time during their studies. Often, the flexibility of distance learning helps a student more easily craft their work schedule.

Students Who Thrive in Online Seminary

A wide range of students can benefit from online seminary, such as students who are caretakers in any capacity (including for children or for aging adults), students who live beyond driving distance from their desired seminary, and working students.
To get the most out of their seminary experience, online learners should be intentional about creating community, even in a digital atmosphere. CTS’ community approach ensures you aren’t alone and that you have the support you need to be successful. At CTS, you’ll develop genuine friendships and experience one-on-one mentoring in our distance learning programs.

Tips for Deciding to Go to Seminary Online

Find an Accredited Online Seminary

As you consider online seminary, you will want to be sure that the seminary you choose is accredited. Accreditation is an external validation of a school’s academic programs. Calvin Theological Seminary holds accredited membership in the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS).

Make Sure Your Degree Is Available Online

Not all seminary degrees are available fully online. CTS offers the following degrees that may be completed through online learning:

Consider Hybrid Distance Learning

Many seminaries see the benefits of both distance and in-person learning and so have combined online education with on-campus opportunities. Calvin’s on-campus intensives allow dedicated time to connect with classmates on campus before returning to online learning and discussion. CTS offers the following degrees that may be completed through hybrid learning:

Explore Online Reformed Seminary Programs

Consider online seminary programs from schools that are in the tradition of Christianity you currently practice, or a tradition you’re interested in learning from.
By attending Calvin Theological Seminary, the Reformed seminary affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA), students can expect to be taught from a distinctively Reformed perspective and learn the theological framework of the CRCNA denomination.
However, it is important to note that Calvin welcomes students from all denominational backgrounds, not just those in the broader Reformed, or specific CRCNA, traditions.

Experience Affordable Online Seminary

Finding an affordable experience is critical to maintaining your online learning throughout seminary. You’re not alone if you’ve ever asked, “How am I going to pay for seminary?” At Calvin, we believe your calling is worth pursuing, and our community resources help ensure that finances won’t hold you back from your ministry potential.
Calvin is a leading online seminary in scholarship support, offering generous awards and funding consistency. This means that scholarships are generally renewable, so your financial aid package will likely remain consistent from year to year.

All Students

  • 100% of Calvin Theological Seminary students receive financial aid.
  • Calvin awards $1.4 million in scholarships annually, helping to lower the cost of a seminary education.
  • In addition to scholarships, many other resources are available, including grants for travel courses in North America, Latin America, and the Middle East.
  • Our financial aid director is available to work closely with you to promote your financial success during seminary.
  • Our scholarships are renewable each year, so your funding level won't drop while in seminary.
  • More than 80% of our graduating, first-level master degree (MDiv, MA, MTS) students graduate without any federal debt incurred at Calvin, and more than 60% graduate with no incurred educational debt of any kind.

On-Campus Students

  • Seminary housing is discounted to keep costs lower than other options in Grand Rapids.
  • All utilities are bundled into student housing costs to make budgeting easier.
  • Financial education programming is available to help students make smart financial decisions.
  • On-campus resources provide food, clothing, and other items at low or no cost for qualifying seminary students and their families.

Distance Students

From the way students engage in class to the design of on-campus intensives, our distance and hybrid programs allow space for you to pursue paid work alongside your studies.

Learn More About Calvin’s Online Seminary Degrees

With flexible course delivery options at Calvin Theological Seminary, you can join a community of diverse students from around the world, learning together from expert scholars and seasoned ministry leaders. Meanwhile, you can continue your ministry where you are with the support you need to grow as a leader.
Our flexible model keeps our online and distance programs accessible. Most Calvin Theological Seminary programs are available in online and/or hybrid formats. To receive more information about earning your seminary degree online through CTS, please complete the form below. We’re excited to help you get started!