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How Do You Decide If You're Ready for Seminary?

Sometimes it's easy to know when it's time to take a new step in life, such as attending seminary. Maybe you're a college student who always knew you'd go straight to grad school after getting your bachelor's degree. Or maybe you're at a transition point in your life, and you have no doubt that you're ready to go back to school.

But other times, it isn't so clear. College students aren't always sure about the best next step after graduation: Do I work for a while, or do I continue my schooling now? And life transitions can be messy; they may seem like an ideal time to take on something new, but sometimes you have to take time to adjust to and recover from the upheavals in your life before tackling significant new commitments. 

United's Admissions team has talked with many prospective students who have wrestled with the question: Am I ready for seminary? These conversations led the folks in Admissions to put together a short document that can help people who are struggling with whether or not it's the right time to take the next step on their career path.

If you're trying to decide whether now's the time to pursue a seminary education, here are the things our Admissions team suggests you keep in mind:

  • Your support network. Seminarians need people who have their back. This may include a faith community, parents, a spouse or partner, a mentor and friends. You can't go it alone... and it can be difficult to manage if you only have one or two people in your support network. With whom have you discussed your plans to attend seminary, and what have they said about these plans? Who can you count on when you've got a big paper to work on or find yourself questioning your faith?
  • A clear end goal. If you're not sure what you plan to do with your seminary degree, you may end up putting more time and money into your education than you would with a clear end goal in mind. This is particularly important if you end up deciding that you want to be a chaplain or a minister in a denomination or religious community with rigorous curricular requirements. Do you know what you want to do after you attain your degree?
  • The demands on your time. Many people enter seminary while still holding down a job and/or caring for family members. We estimate that each course will take approximately 12 hours of your time each week. Can you stay on top of your coursework and your other responsibilities?
  • Your financial resources. How will you pay for your education? Most of our students work at least part-time, and our average master's degree student qualifies for need-based aid and scholarships. Take a look at what your education will cost and your current resources, and look into what financial aid you might receive. 

If you know that you're ready for seminary, you may still have another nagging question: What program should I pursue? Sometimes the answer is clear: If you know you want to be an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, your best match at United is a Master of Divinity in UCC Studies. But other times, even if you know what you want to do with your degree -- such as continuing on to get a PhD and pursuing a career in academia -- you aren't quite sure about the best program for you. 

We've created a quiz to match you with your ideal master's degree program based on your interests. Designed to be both fun and helpful, the program will use your answers to a series of questions to suggest a degree program for you. Intrigued? Try it out and see if you agree with your match!

Take the Quiz!

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