5 Requirements for Seminary School

5 Requirements for Seminary Applicants

  • Faith and Belief in Tenets of Religion
  • Academic Ability
  • Character
  • Marriage Status
  • Giftings

Seminaries are seeing an increase in the number of applicants who want to study for the ministry. What requirements for seminary school must a student meet to get into a seminary? Much depends upon the type of seminary an applicant is considering. Although schools vary in their levels of education and in the requirements to be accepted as a student, there are some commonalities.

1. Faith and Belief in Tenets of Religion

The faith qualification is pretty subjective. Most schools require applicants to provide letters of recommendation just as secular colleges do. The difference for seminary students is that the letters focus on a history of service and beneficence. Some seminaries may require applicants to have served in a church “ministry” for a specified time. The term in this sense refers to participation in an activity such as music, outreach and other such areas and not to church leadership. Belief in the church tenets may be documented by letters of reference, by personal essays or by passing a test about the church doctrine. It may also be shown by signing a letter of agreement. Those studying for the priesthood, for instance, must agree to remain celibate.

2. Academic Ability

Academic requisites may vary according to type of institution; some seminaries are schools in affiliated universities and must adhere to the admissions standards of the institution. While students admitted to other seminaries may not have to be in the top half of their high school classes or score highly on a standardized test, there are some academic requirements. Seminaries are schools and may require a bachelor’s degree for admission to advanced programs. All seminary programs require official transcripts from high schools for initial study.

3. Character

This, as faith and belief, may be subjective. The requisite is mentioned separately because of recent issues arising in the ministry in Protestant and in Catholic churches. Seminaries require letters of recommendation from people unrelated to the applicant who have known him or her for at least a year. Churches are based on the foundation of second chances and redemption. For that reason, people who were convicted of felonies and served prison time are not excluded from entering seminary. The recent scandals in sexual abuse and other issues, however, have thrown a bright light on the character of the ministry. Histories of sexual crimes and especially those perpetrated upon children may be prohibitive. Most seminaries require applicants to have a background check, and some require psychological tests.

4. Marriage Status

Students applying to a Catholic seminary who have been married may have to provide proof of their spouse’s death or of the annulment of their marriage. Evangelical institutions may have to provide a marriage license to show they are legally married. Some fundamentalist institutions admit married students who have been married for at least six months and also prohibit marriage of students during certain semesters. This is because having the stress of a new marriage can have a negative effect on their studies.

Related Resource: 30 Best Theological Seminaries in the United States

5. Giftings

This is an assessment of an applicant’s talents and abilities in reference to ministry. It may be self-reported or ascertained from letters of reference. According to a New York Times article, seminary students do not expect to have positions of leadership in a church but look to other areas of ministry or even secular professions. Those considering becoming ministers are usually older students while younger students may plan to enter some other form of service or consider the seminary a period of self-growth before beginning another career. Still, because seminaries may confer degrees and ministerial credentials upon graduates, the assessment of giftings, like aptitude tests, is a valuable tool.

Seminaries can be places of personal growth, and they can also build solid academic foundations just as any secular school would do. They can be less expensive than other schools because of extensive church support and endowments. Although it may not be complete, this list of requirements for seminary school is a good starting place for students considering entering a seminary.