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How Do I Choose the Best Online Theological Seminary?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2014
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For many people, an online theological seminary can be a good way to complete education necessary for a ministry career. As the world of online education is paved with many pitfalls, it is important to use good common sense when choosing a distance learning seminary. It is important to verify the legitimacy of the online theological seminary by confirming its accreditation status. Understanding its curriculum structure, on-campus requirements, as well as whether a diploma from an online school will be recognized by your denomination or employer is also crucial.

When investigating an online theological seminary, be sure to ask about its accreditation. If the school claims to be accredited, find out the name of the accrediting agency and then verify that the accrediting agency is recognized by the appropriate government body in your area. Never take the word of any school, especially online schools, about accreditation, the transferability of its course credits, or whether it is approved by a certain church or organization. Investigate its claims for yourself.

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Some churches and denominations will not accept education received through an online theological seminary even if the school is accredited. Be sure to find out if you will be eligible for ordination if you take your degree through a distance learning school. While one of the benefits of an online seminary is that you can study from home and don't need to relocate, your school may require you to travel to campus one or more times per year. If this is the case, you will need to make sure that you have the funds and the time to meet your on-campus commitment.

In all cases, it is essential to understand the cost of attending the online seminary and to compare it to the costs of a traditional seminary education. One good approach is to consider the cost of relocation versus the cost of online seminary tuition, necessary computer hardware and software, and of occasional travel to the school.

Disadvantages of attending an online seminary include the lack of library access. You should ask the seminary if it has an online library that you can use or if you can borrow books by mail through its physical library. In some cases, your online theological seminary can set up an arrangement with local schools and seminaries so that you have access to a library. You will also not have in-person support from faculty or other students, so it is a good idea to inquire about whether the school provides chat rooms, forums, or webcam access to your professors and classmates.

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