Frequently asked questions to the admissions office at United.
- How do I apply?
- What educational background do I need to apply? What college courses will prepare me for seminary?
- Can I afford to go to seminary?
- Can I work full-time or part-time while in seminary?
- How long will it take to complete my degree?
- Does United have online courses?
- What if I don’t know what God is calling me to do?
- Do you have on-campus housing?
- Is seminary only for people who want to be ordained? What if I don’t want to be a pastor?
- Who goes to seminary?
- What if I’m not sure what I believe?
- Do I need to be a member of a church (or a denomination) to attend seminary?
- What is unique about United? Why would someone choose an ecumenical seminary over a denominational one?
- Do credits from other schools transfer into a degree at United?
- Who can I talk to about my options?
How do I apply?
All application materials are available online on the web page for each program, on the ‘Forms’ web page or from the admissions office. Please note that each degree, certificate, diploma or non-degree program has its own application requirements; if you have questions about these distinctions, a phone call to admissions at 651.633.4311 may be the best way to figure out what you will need.
What educational background do I need to apply? What college courses will prepare me for seminary?
Seminary is a graduate level (post-college) course of study. We want all of our students to be successful in their course of study at United, so we look for students who have successfully managed their college and/or professional careers. All degree program candidates and non-degree students, including auditors, are required to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and a GPA of at least 2.75 (on a 4.0 scale). We are able to, and do, admit a small number of mature adults with significant life and vocational experience who have earned either an associate’s degree or at least half of the credits toward a bachelor’s degree.
People from many diverse disciplines come to study at United. When determining a candidate’s readiness to enroll, the admissions team looks for strong analytical, reflective thinking and writing skills, as well as vocational and academic goals compatible with the mission of United. More important than your college major is your ability to read, think, write and speak well. Courses in history, philosophy, literature and religion will serve you well, but the best preparation is a general education integrating a variety of fields and disciplines. If you are seeking ordination, it is always important to talk with those in your denomination who are responsible for overseeing the call and ordination process. The sooner you make those contacts, the better, even if you are just exploring your options.
Can I afford to go to seminary?
This is an important question, and there is no easy or simple answer. United provides financial aid and helps students find other sources of support. In order to be considered for financial aid, students must be enrolled in a degree program at least half-time.
In addition to a very limited number of on-campus jobs, United directly provides financial assistance in two ways:
- Need-based aid, based on completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- Merit-based aid, awarded to students who demonstrate exceptional academic ability.
We ask students to take the Graduate Record Exam by February 1 in order to qualify for merit-based aid beginning in the fall term. Several scholarships allow us to provide between 30% to 100% of tuition, some for one year of study and others for up to four years of study.
Can I work full time or part time while in seminary?
The majority of students maintain some outside work commitment while in seminary. Students who work full time or part time plan their schedules according to their course load, perhaps attending classes one full day, two half-days or a few evenings each week. The schedule of required and elective courses varies by term; careful planning with your advisor ensures you can complete all your program requirements within the time allotted. A general formula for class preparation time is to allow 3-4 hours of study for each hour spent in class.
How long will it take to complete my degree?
Full-time students can complete a Master of Divinity in three years, but United allows up to seven years (from matriculation date, not including terms spent as a non-degree student) to earn the degree. Master of Arts students can complete their program in two years at full-time attendance, but United allows up to five years to complete the degree.
Does United have online courses?
United offers a number of courses each term for online study, as well as hybrid courses. Some students are taking online courses at other accredited theological schools in anticipation of transferring the credits into a degree program at United. It’s always smart to check with admissions before enrolling in a course you expect to transfer, whether it is an online course or an on-campus course at another school.
What if I don’t know what God is calling me to do?
Many people come to United with a strong passion for a certain area of study or ministry, while others come trusting that the clarity they seek will come to them as they pursue their degree. Seminary is a time of discernment for those still searching, as well as for those convinced of the path they must follow. At United, theological education, professional development and spiritual formation are integrated into each program and course. This makes United an ideal place to “figure things out” and learn to “live the questions,” while discovering the many different ways in which God is calling you.
Do you have on-campus housing?
Huenemann House, the on-campus apartment building, has 17 units available for singles, couples and single parents with one child. Two lounges, two study rooms, storage and laundry facilities are available. The building, like most of the campus, has wireless access. The apartments are unfurnished, but include a stove, refrigerator and bath with tub and shower. Utilities and basic cable are included in the rent. If the apartments do not meet your needs, or if one is not available, the director of housing has a listing of off-campus options in the neighborhood.
Is seminary only for people who want to be ordained? What if I don’t want to be a pastor?
United prepares students for leadership and service in the church and in society. Whether ordained or non-ordained, United graduates work in an amazing array of professional and volunteer roles: as local church pastors; chaplains in prisons, hospitals, hospice facilities and the military; missionaries; educators, teachers and professors; youth and young adult ministers; writers, performers, painters, sculptors, potters, musicians and photographers; counselors, therapists and spiritual directors; CEOs and foundation directors; consultants; community organizers; denominational executives; and many others. Seminary graduates are creating new interdisciplinary ministry connections all the time. They share in common a sense that their vocation is their ministry—a way they can answer God’s call in and through their lives.
Who goes to seminary?
You will meet all kinds of people at United; our students come from more than 20 Christian denominations and faith traditions. The student body includes recent college graduates, retirees and mid-life people pursuing a second or third career. United students are men and women, LGBTIQ, single, partnered, from the Twin Cities and from around the globe. We can give you statistical averages, but there are no “average” students at United!
What if I’m not sure what I believe?
At United, you will not be told what or how to believe. United equips students with the skills and experience needed to think and speak theologically, while helping to develop a faith vocabulary that encourages conversation with diverse voices. At United, theological diversity is seen as a strength and crucial to the development of a student’s own beliefs. Rooted in tradition, yet open to God’s future, United is a place to discover or rediscover what you believe and how you might live faithfully in the world.
Do I need to be a member of a church (or a denomination) to attend seminary?
Seminary education does not require membership in any congregation or adherence to a particular faith tradition. However, for students seeking ordination or other forms of ministerial endorsement, a relationship with their particular denomination or community is essential. We encourage prospective students who are considering a call to ministry to get in touch with their local church or denominational body sooner rather than later.
What is unique about United? Why would someone choose an ecumenical seminary over a denominational one?
As the premier ecumenical seminary in the region, United is deeply engaged in faith conversations that cross denominational and theological lines. United’s ecumenical environment allows students to learn from a rich variety of experiences and traditions, while deepening their understanding of their own tradition(s) and preparing them to serve in highly diverse settings. Specific denominational requirements for ordination, including internships and polity courses, can almost always be completed between United and the Minnesota Consortium of Theological Schools.
Do credits from other schools transfer into a degree at United?
Credits from graduate-level courses taken at other theological institutions usually transfer toward a degree program at United. Transfer credits may fulfill degree program requirements or be accepted as elective credits. The final decision on how a course transfers is made by the faculty only after a student is admitted to a degree program. The registrar works with the admissions office to give transfer students an “educated guess” as to how credits will transfer before they enroll. To earn a degree from United, a person must spend at least one full academic year as a United student.
Who can I talk to about my options?
The admissions team is ready to listen and answer your questions via phone (651.633.4311), email or in person. Please don’t hesitate to contact us anytime.