Pre-Theology and Pre-Ministerial Schools

Pre-theology and pre-ministerial studies constitute the first step of higher education to become a priest or minister. There are different options for completing these studies depending on a student's objectives and current level of completed study. There are also numerous options based on denominational differences, so it is important to research different institutions thoroughly.

Coursework in pre-theology and pre-ministerial studies is not a degree, but rather a set of courses that one must take before entering into training to become a priest or minister. The coursework can be completed as part of a bachelor's degree or in a post-baccalaureate program.

10 Schools with Pre-Theological and Pre-Ministerial Programs

At these schools, students can earn a bachelor's degree or complete post-baccalaureate study that includes the necessary coursework for admission into a theology or ministry program.

College/University Location Institution Type Degree Offered Tuition (2015-16)*
Concordia University - Nebraska Seward, NE Bachelor's 4-year, Private not-for-profit $27,110
Indiana Wesleyan University Marion, IN Bachelor's 4-year, Private not-for-profit $24,728
Monmouth College Monmouth, IL 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's $34,200
Ohio Christian University Circleville, OH 4-year, Private not-for-profit Associate's, Bachelor's $18,840
St. John's Seminary Camarillo, CA 4-year, Private not-for-profit Post-baccalaureate Pre-theology Program $17,500
Oral Roberts University Tulsa, OK 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's $24,792
Kuyper College Grand Rapids, MI 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's $19,544
Martin Luther College New Ulm, MN 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's $13,570
Tabor College Hillsboro, KS 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's $25,320
Valparaiso University Valparaiso, IN 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's $36,160

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Some considerations for students comparing schools in this field include:

  • Pre-theology programs are usually meant for students wanting to pursue graduate study in theology, while pre-ministerial programs are appropriate for students wanting to pursue ordination as a clergy member or other religious leader.
  • The denominational affiliation will vary based on the student's religion, with there being some difference between Catholic and Protestant approaches to ministry.

Pre-Ministerial Bachelor's Degree

Pre-ministerial programs prepare students to begin study at a seminary following graduation, or for graduate study. Students will want to choose a program that meshes with their own spiritual priorities and beliefs. These programs emphasize a broad liberal arts background that includes extensive coursework in philosophy, history and biblical studies.

Pre-Theology Bachelor's Degree

Because pre-theology courses do not constitute a major in and of themselves, students are free to pursue a bachelor's degree in another subject area while also completing pre-theology courses. Students may want to consider course options relevant to their desired academic specialty. Some schools offer in-depth study of ancient philosophy, Greek or Latin and different models for Biblical interpretation. In addition to coursework, students often participate in spiritual formation activities, such as prayer, retreats and conferences.

Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Theology Training

These programs are appropriate for graduates who have completed a bachelor's degree, but have not yet met the academic requirements for admission into a graduate-level theology program. The length of study necessary will depend on the requirements a student needs to meet and any prior preparation he or she has. These programs usually require two years to complete, and some allow students to begin master's-level study while finishing course prerequisites.

Although pre-theology and pre-ministry are not specific undergraduate majors, students can take the necessary prerequisite coursework for seminary admission while earning a bachelor's degree. Another option is to get relevant training from a post-baccalaureate program.

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