What is distance learning?

Learning online, or learning that happens where you are. Distance learning transcends distance through technology to create a common learning experience for people in different locations and time zones.

How is the distance M.Div. calendar different from the residential calendar?

The distance M.Div. program follows the residential calendar, with two exceptions: (1) on-campus intensives for distance students that occur usually 4-5 weeks into the fall and spring semesters; (2) a 9-week online course during the summer (mid-June through mid-August).

What are on-campus intensives? How does the seminary support students attending them?

Intensives are five days on our beautiful Grand Rapids campus. Students spend face-to-face time with faculty and fellow students. Coming together as a learning community is a vital part of the distance program. Intensives emphasize student interaction, collaborative learning, and the application of course materials.

Arrangements and expenses for travel, room, and board are the responsibility of each student. Calvin Seminary provides general resources (e.g., listing of local housing options, online forums for finding roommates, etc.) to facilitate the planning for intensives.

How many hours of work per week does the program entail?

Like the residential program, the distance M.Div. program involves three hours of work per week for each credit hour (e.g., 24 hours per week for 8 credits). During intensives, the workload increases to about 40+ hours per week. Students will be in class every morning and afternoon, plus some evenings, every day but Sunday.

How flexible is the distance M.Div. on a day-to-day basis?

Besides the on-campus intensives, the program is fluid. While there are due dates for assignments and specific test dates, pacing remains the responsibility of each individual student.

What are some key differences between the residential and distance programs?

The distance program is designed to accommodate a variety of life circumstances. Students who can’t relocate or commit to time-bound programs due to work and family demands may find the distance program particularly appealing. At the same time, distance education places a high emphasis on collaboration and communication.

By contrast, the residential program has structured meeting times and regular face-to-face interaction with professors and other students. It also allows flexible access to faculty office hours and regular opportunities for corporate worship and residential community life that are not as available through the distance program.

How much does the program cost?

The tuition cost of the distance program is identical to the cost of the residential program. Please see further details (including estimated cost of attendance sheets) here.

Is there financial aid available?

Generous scholarship awards are available. Scholarships are awarded on a rolling basis. Prospective students are encouraged to apply as soon as they can.

What is a cohort?

A cohort is a learning community of students that generally follows the same course sequence and will be interacting online and during intensives. It is similar to a graduate class. Cohorts provide contexts for close-knit community and support systems as members share their learning experience.

How available are the professors to distance students?

Professors will provide same or next day response to emails and will be available for online office hours. Since online classes are equivalent to residential classes in workload, professors will provide the same amount of time for grading, interaction, etc. as they would for a residential class.

How will ‘formation for ministry’ occur in a distance program?

As in the residential program, formation is the foundation of the curriculum rather than the result of a particular learning environment (e.g., traditional classroom). Key elements such as Mentored Ministries groups, internships, and shared theological reflections are required keystones in the distance as well as residential programs. Thus, the emphasis on formation will be equivalent whether a student is sitting in a classroom or watching a lecture online. Additionally, the careful use of tools such as blogs, forums, and social media can foster relationships of mutual accountability and lifelong learning; we are committed to tapping these pedagogical instruments in thoughtful and creative ways.

Is distance learning available for international students?

International students are eligible to apply for the Master of Divinity distance learning program. However, international students are not eligible for our Master of Arts and Master of Theological Studies distance learning degrees. All non-U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents are required to obtain visas for their on-campus intensives. Please visit the International Students page for more visa info.

How does online learning happen in the distance program?

Students will use Canvas, a sophisticated Learning Management System, to access a unit of learning each week. Each unit will consist of readings, assignments, projects, conversations, and a variety of learning tasks. Students can move at their own pace to complete all activities, but must finish them by the end of the week.

Can I transfer credits I’ve earned elsewhere into the Distance M.Div. program?

Once a prospective student has submitted their application with a full transcript, our Registrar will conduct a thorough analysis of the transcript to determine which courses and credits will transfer. At times, syllabi and other additional info will be requested.

What kind of tech support do you provide students?

Orientation to Canvas, our learning management system (LMS), will be provided at Gateway, our one-week on-campus orientation that happens in the latter half of August. Information technology staff and an educational technologist will be available for technological issues. Same-day responses will be provided. Students can email canvas@calvinseminary.edu for any Canvas-related problems and questions. Online tutorials, references, and links are also available.

What are the minimum tech requirements?

Our Learning Management System (LMS) is completely web-based and requires no special software to install. However, for the smoothest possible experience, we recommend a high-performing computer with high-speed Internet access, as well as updated versions of your browser and Flash. Many courses also require the use of a webcam.

I need a transcript, how do I get one?

For transcript requests (official and unofficial) go to the registrar page on semlink.