What You Should Know About This Degree
People who are called to ministry are often confused as to whether they should choose Bible college or attend seminary. The two both focus on Bible, Christian ministry, and doctrine, but there are also important differences. Where a Bible college provides foundational teachers in ministry, its curriculum is also part of a larger undergraduate degree and will provide foundational courses in history, social science and other subjects from a biblical perspective. Seminary, by contrast, is a graduate level program that offers either Master’s or Doctoral studies and focuses on leadership, whether in ministry or teaching.
Attending a Bible college provides a strong foundation and preparation, while attending seminary takes that initial education and expands upon it. Many students make their decision about whether to move beyond their Bible college education based upon their career goals and the associated requirements.
Attending a Bible college represents a stepping stone to many potential careers. Employers seeking biblically-educated professionals need assurance that the program attended provides a high-quality education that has been reviewed and met the standards of an accrediting agency. Make sure that any program you consider has achieved this important benchmark.
Graduates of Bible colleges who move on to a career in local church ministry are advised to seek one of four available ministerial credentials. These include either a vocational or non-vocational Ministry License, a Certificate of Christian Ministry, a Certificate of Ordination or a Transfer or Ordination. Though these may not be required by a specific employer, they do provide reassurance of the individual’s calling, character, and biblical/theological capacity.
Members of the clergy and others wishing to work within religious organizations or programs generally choose their careers based on their faith and desire to serve rather than for salary. Community service and faith-based organizations continue are expected to see growth and opportunity at a steady rate over the next several years.
Here are some questions to ask when researching Bible colleges:
- Am I eligible for this program? Applying for admission to Bible college is similar to the process of applying to a liberal arts program, though some programs’ requirements may have higher academic standards than others. Students will need to submit an application that is likely to require documentation of SAT or ACT scores, high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Additionally, many Bible colleges will look for proof of community involvement and a demonstration of spiritual goals.
- Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? The Bible colleges included on our list offer both in-person and online opportunities, and those programs offering virtual education offer both asynchronous and synchronous courses. Be sure to check the description and availability of the individual program that you are applying to so that you can be certain it will meet your needs.
Applying to college is a process that is built around strict deadlines. Because many schools require applicants to take standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT that are available on a set schedule, it is important to pay close attention to the calendar so that you can be sure to get all materials in on time for consideration.
Attending a Bible college represents a significant monetary investment. Many of these schools are private institutions, and tuition is expensive. There are numerous opportunities for scholarships and federal and state financial aid, but you need to do your research to determine which you are eligible for and apply for them in a timely fashion.