Pursuing Directed Study

Pursuing Directed Study

For the pastor who would like to tailor a portion of his program to meet a very focused theological interest or ministry need that would not regularly or thoroughly be addressed in any STM course, the option is available to design a very personalized directed study project. Directed study allows a pastor essentially to design the equivalent of a unique course that meets an interest or a need of ministry.

A pastor who is interested in developing such a directed study would speak with his STM advisor (or the WLS director of continuing education if he does not yet have an STM advisor). The STM advisor can serve as his advisee’s directed study advisor if the study is in an area of his expertise. If the advisor believes a professor from another area of study might be a better fit as a directed study advisor, he will suggest to his STM advisee a professor who teaches in the area related to the focus of the directed study. The STM advisor will ask that professor if he is willing to serve, and, if so, make sure initial contact is begun between that professor and the pastor doing the directed study. No formal approval of the whole faculty is needed for another professor to serve as such a directed study advisor.

Once a directed study advisor has been selected, the advisor will request from the continuing education department the Directed Study Proposal form be sent to both the pastor and professor (provided as a Microsoft form). That form will include:

  • a concise statement of the goal of the directed study;
  • an initial bibliography;
  • what he proposes to be the tangible final product of his study (a paper, a ministry tool, etc.); and
  • a proposed due date for the study’s completion.

In consultation with one another, the pastor and his directed study advisor seek to strengthen that proposal for his directed study. During this consultation, the advisor would also indicate to the pastor the amount of STM credit he would earn by completing the work outlined in the proposal.

Credits could be earned in one or two large directed study projects or in several smaller projects.

Another form of directed study can take place when a pastor who is taking a regular on-campus, satellite, or online course works with the course instructor’s approval to produce a project or do further research that pursues the course’s topic in a way that is beyond the regular course requirements.

Tuition costs per credit are 2/3 of the cost for enrolling in a regular class. The tuition rate that would apply would be the prevailing STM tuition rate at the time the directed study began. The pastor would not be billed for this tuition until the directed study advisor informs the continuing education department that the pastor has successfully completed the study. The advisor would also inform the continuing education department of the number of credits earned and the grade that was awarded. Once the tuition is paid, the credits become a part of the pastor’s official transcript.

For those whose tuition is covered by their calling body, tuition discounts are also available just as they would be for any for-credit course. For pastors covering the tuition from their own resources, the seminary also has its regular financial aid for which a pastor can apply.