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What is an Online Seminary?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 25 July 2018
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An online seminary is a school that conducts religious education, usually for those interested in ministry, on the Internet. There are a growing number of these in existence and they may have some key differences that are worthy of note. Presently, schools that offer exclusive education online are primarily limited to various Christian denominations, but the thirst for online education could change that very quickly in the future. Many bricks and mortar seminaries might have some distance learning classes available to make attendance more convenient for students.

The biggest and most important thing to notice in online seminary offerings is the issue of accreditation. Some of the schools are fully accredited, allowing people to earn up to doctorates in theology. Others are not, and merely have training programs that might be accepted by some denominations.

A person completing the latter could begin a ministry but might not meet all requirements for employment with some churches. Moreover, those not attending accredited schools usually don’t earn transferable units. This means if a person pursues bachelor’s degree studies in theology, he or she is not automatically eligible to get a master’s degree or a doctorate somewhere else.

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To this end, it’s recommended that people pursue studies with an online seminary that possesses accreditation. This can be easily verified by checking the schools status with a regional accreditation agency. Names of these vary by location. In the US, the US Department of Education is a good place to start searching for these agencies to determine that the school meets certain standards and is considered as good as any other university.

Another important element after accreditation has been verified is choosing an online seminary that is aligned with religious views. Since there are still not that many of these schools available, it may not always be possible to find this on the Internet. Currently, Catholic seminaries don’t exist online, for instance.

Perhaps the best way to decide which seminaries would be right is to have a good discussion with a local pastor within a person’s denomination. There are some schools that serve several Christian sects, but others are very specific to a subscribed set of beliefs. Taking the time to find the right school from this perspective is very important.

Like many Internet schools, the online seminary is likely to come at a heavy cost. Price per unit or class tends to be fairly high. Nevertheless, the convenience of attending online, while being able to continue to work or remain in present location, can justify cost. As with other online education, schooling is conducted in a variety of formats that might include virtual class time or discussion, reading material, essay writing, taking tests and others. Each school and each class might have slightly different approaches.

The final thing people might want to consider is this: seminary is a time for deep religious exploration. It may help to be in an environment where this exploration can be routinely discussed and is palpably present. Many find that regular participation in prayer and other faith activities of the seminary, together with teachers and students, helps testify to faith and builds stronger commitment to God.

Not all people will find the online seminary useful in this respect. Despite its best intentions, it does not bring people of faith that closely together due to its format. This aspect does not bother others, and if they pursue religious activities regularly, they find they get all the community they need to expand their faith and keep it strong.

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