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13 FAQs of Prospective Seminary Students *with infographics*

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Maybe you’ve been considering seminary for awhile, but something has been holding you back and you haven’t taken the leap. Perhaps now is the time.

In my former role with the seminary I talked with prospective students over the phone, emailed with them, messaged with them on Facebook, conversed over Twitter,  texted details, and on occasion gave them tours of Austin Grad.  Routinely, they asked the same or similar questions. Read on for the cliff notes (with pictures, student video testimonials, faculty quotes, and alumni stories) on most everything you need to know to begin your journey at Austin Grad. 

Questions addressed are: 

1. What degree programs do you offer? Are they accredited?
2. What courses are offered for each? Can I transfer my existing credits into your program?
3. What types of jobs can I get with this degree? 
4. How’s the classroom experience?
5. How do I fund my studies?
6. I don’t live in Central Texas. Can I still attend?
7. What’s your seminary’s theological philosophy?
8. How will I conduct research?
9. I’ll be a non-traditional student. Is that a problem?
10. I’m younger. Is that a problem?
11.  I’m working and volunteering plus have a family — I’m really busy.  How can I go to school on top of all my existing responsibilities? 
12. How long has your seminary been around? What’s your story?
13. I don’t want to do this alone. Can my family/others join me?

1. What degree programs do you offer? Are they accredited? 

Austin Graduate School of Theology is a seminary offering Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies degrees both online and on-campus and Master of Arts in Theological Studies degrees on-campus.

Austin Grad is accredited by the same agency that also accredits Abilene Christian University, Baylor University, Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M University, Texas State University, The University of Texas, and others.

2. What courses are offered for each degree? Can I transfer my existing credits into your program?

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Many Austin Grad students get their general education requirements (think: English, Math, History) for their bachelor’s degree from Austin Community College, Central Texas College, or transfer them in. Austin Grad’s faculty primarily focus on theological courses, but on occasion we do offer English, Public Speaking, Social Science, and History courses. Ask Registrar Dawn Bond (DBond@austingrad.edu) for how you can get these with us.  We’ll help you make registering for general ed courses a breeze. 

You may transfer up to 15 hours toward the major (after approval from the admissions committee) and up to all 69 hours toward the general education portion of the degree into Austin Grad’s bachelor degree (the on-campus and online programs) so long as you received at least a C level grade in the course, , and coursework was completed at a regionally accredited institution.

“Higher education is an investment, and no one wants to waste time and money taking unnecessary courses,” Registrar Dawn Bond said. “With this in mind, we (the admissions committee and the Registrar’s office) work hard to ensure that each student receives as much transfer credit as possible, allowing the student to formulate a plan for success and graduate in a time frame that meets their educational goals while balancing their lifestyle demands.”

If you have questions about transferring credits in, please contact Registrar Dawn Bond at DBond@austingradued

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This graduate degree takes most students three to four years to complete if going part time. Of course if you go full-time and already have completed the background courses (from your undergrad degree), it can go much faster, and some have finished in a little over 1.5 years.

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3. What types of jobs can I get with this degree?What to Expect From Seminary e-book FINAL_Page_09.jpg

Most of our students go into one of these career tracks:

  • Counseling (for-profit business and non-profit centers)
  • Ministry (within the Church in America and abroad through missions) 
  • Non-profit Management (for specific worthy causes)
  • Chaplaincy (within hospitals, prisons, and within the marketplace)
  • Higher Education (go onto a doctoral program to then teach or work in Administration)
  • Christian primary and secondary schools
  • Prison ministry
  • Christian author

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4. How’s the classroom experience?

We keep class sizes small so you get to know your professor and the other students in class. 

Kim Venzant is a graduate student in the M.A. in Theological Studies degree program since January 2015.  She is active in her church’s women’s ministry, has taught in Sunday school, and has participated in the music ministry.  “After studying at Austin Grad I no longer look at the Bible the same.  In fact, I no longer look at people the same,” she said. Listen to her share about the faculty and students of Austin Grad as well as what she’s personally learning.

 

Watch Preaching Minister Greg Neill as he shares his experiences with taking courses at Austin Grad and about the teaching style of many of the professors.

 

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5. How do I fund my studies?

We realize no one goes into ministry for the money. So we don’t want you to rack up a ton of debt if you don’t have to.

There’s several ways to completely fund your studies to make it less of a burden on you and your family.  Most are personally tailored, so the Financial Aid Office would love to explore your specific options. Here’s the overview:

  • Personal funds: Personal funds are those from you or your family.  Check with the Dean of Students for potential openings/internships in local churches.
  • Austin Grad Scholarships: Eligibility is based upon enrollment in a degree program, financial need, academic history, and ministry involvement or potential. Priority is given to full-time students, but part-time students may also be eligible. To apply, complete the Austin Grad Financial Aid Application

  • Church Contributions: Austin Grad will match up to 25% max of what your church gives toward your tuition.  Go ahead and ask!

  • Work/Study positions: Usually several positions each semester in the library become available for both undergraduate and graduate degree students. Eligibility is based on financial need. Work hours can be adjusted to fit course schedules; however, total hours are usually limited to 3 to 10 per week.
  • Veteran scholarships: Austin Grad degree programs are approved for all major veteran education benefits. Veterans, dependents, and survivors of veterans may be eligible.

  • Employer Contributions: Check with your employer for programs that may help fund your education. The school has received tuition dollars from student employers ranging from fast food restaurants to small businesses to city governments. It’s worth asking!
  • Federal Aid:  Federal aid in the form of grants and loans are available to qualifying students. Talk to the financial aid office (first step is to complete the FAFSA application here) for details.

Because of Austin Grad’s amazing donors, tuition is kept much lower than actual costs to keep school affordable. Tuition costs each semester can be viewed here. 

Currently one on-campus course (tuition and all fees) is $1,225 is $1225. Students with financial need should contact Austin Grad’s Financial Aid Office to get more details on the options listed above. Contact Dave at DArthur@austingrad.edu

 

6. I don’t live in Central Texas. Can I still attend?

Yes, of course! There’s two options. 

First, Austin Grad offers an online B.A. degree program that you can do from the comfort of your own home whether you’re in California, West Texas, Florida, or even traveling in Mexico (plus a whole lot of other places!). Learn more about the online program here.

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Second, there’s the option to move to the popular city of Austin (where 300 people a day move to!) and pursue a B.A. or M.A. degree with us on campus.

Watch current M.A. Student Christopher O’Keefe talk about “changing his whole world” by selling his businesses, selling their home, packing up a few kids with his wife, and moving to Texas all for the experience at Austin Grad. Oh, and his third child was born here in Austin.



7. What’s your seminary’s theological philosophy?

Austin Grad is affiliated with the Church of Christ and is in conversation with all who confess Jesus as Lord. Austin Grad promotes faith seeking understanding and is committed to providing a high quality education for those who desire to be equipped to expand the Kingdom of God.

“We are not merely a school of religion that seeks to do academic work apart from our faith,” President Stan Reid said.  “In the English language, the earliest usage of the word ‘seminary’ signified a seedbed or nursery. In time, the term came to designate a school for training church leaders. Our aim is to nurture the faith and lives of those who would serve as leaders and ministers of the church.”

New Testament Professor Dr. Jeff Peterson says, “Our faculty aim to introduce our students to the great scholars and teachers of the Bible who have instructed the church these past 20 centuries. We strive every day to enter into their great conversation about the meaning of Scripture and the truths of the Christian faith while keeping an eye on challenges that Christians and churches face in our time.”

 

8. How will I conduct research?

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Austin Grad’s David Worley Library has more than 30,000 cataloged items with several hundred print serials. In addition, Austin Grad subscribes to multiple databases with hundreds of thousands of online resources. Students are welcome to use the computer lab too.

Austin Grad’s librarian has more than 10 years reference experience and is here to help students with all of their information-seeking and paper-writing needs.

“The library is currently a collection of libraries: a reference library, a primary source library, a ‘commentaries in sets and series’ library, and a discrete works/circulation library,” wrote Dr. Todd Hall, director of the library.

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9. I’ll be a non-traditional student. Is that a problem?

Not able to attend full-time? Been a while since you’ve been in school?  Already have a career, but wanting to prepare for ministry? Our students come from all walks of life.

Take recent B.A. Graduate Juanita Robinson who is planning to retire from her state government job in 2020 and go into full-time ministry, possibly chaplaincy.  Until then, she’s planning to start Austin Grad’s M.A. degree program and continue lay ministry within her church and among people that God puts in her path.

10. I’m younger. Is that a problem?

Austin Grad offers select courses for college credit for homeschool and highschool students at a huge discount. Normally, tuition is $350 per credit hour or $1,050/course, but it is now available for eligible homeschool and highschool students for just $65/hour or $195/course.  A $75 campus use fee and a $100 tech fee do apply. Online courses have a $300/per course fee. Total cost: $370-$595/ per course.

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Below is a video from 19-year-old Joseph Harrell, a student in our online B.A. degree program. He shares how God wooed him into preaching and away from Texas State University.  


Read this article about three high school students
who took courses at Austin Grad this past Spring 2017 semester.

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11. I’m working and volunteering plus have a family — I’m really busy.  How can I go to school on top of all my existing responsibilities? 

Below is a video from M.A. Student Michael Felker who serves as a preaching minister at a church in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and has two young kids. He makes the drive weekly to and from Austin to stack two courses on one day.  


Also hear from Youth Minister and M.A. Student Jared Brock share about doing the program part time with the flexible classes during the day and night while working and having a family.

12. How long has your seminary been around? What’s your story?

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Did you know that public universities used to partner with local churches to provide  courses for college credit in the Bible for all degree programs in business, medicine, engineering, and others? This was known as the Bible Chair and most classes were held offsite at a nearby church. 

Austin Grad will be celebrating its centennial (100th!) anniversary this year and got its start by partnering with The University of Texas to provide their students courses in the Bible for credit to apply to their degree programs.

You can read more about it here.

Part 2 is here and shares specific info about the Bible Chair, stand-alone degree offerings by date, and full accreditation details. Also, read a third article shares more recent history.

 

13. I don’t want to do this alone. Can my family/others join me?

Invite anyone 16 years and older to join you in class for just $75 plus books as an auditor. They won’t receive college credit or have to take exams or do assignments as an auditor. It’s a great way for your family and friends to go deeper in their study of scripture and great for you to grow together in your understanding of scripture. In fact, it often sparks good conversations!

Hear from one of our auditors Jan Swinney, a sandwich shop small business owner, talk about her experience taking Greek with her high school son who took the same course for credit before entering college.

 

My prayer is that these 13 questions and answers help you better understand Austin Grad and what kind of experience you’ll get here.

If you have additional questions, please call or email Dawn Bond (DBond@austingrad.edu). 

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Austin Graduate School of Theology is an Austin seminary offering B.A. and M.A. ministry degrees, and Austin Grad is accredited by the same agency that accredits Abilene Christian University, Baylor University, Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M University, Texas State University, The University of Texas, and others.  Austin Grad — one of the top Christian colleges in Texas and among the top seminaries in Texas — is affiliated with the Church of Christ and is in conversation with all who confess Jesus as Lord. Austin Grad promotes faith seeking understanding and is committed to providing a high quality education for those who desire to be equipped to expand the Kingdom of God.

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