Can I Keep My Job While Studying at WTS?
December 8, 2022
Theological education can be a major expense. Choosing to attend seminary is a decision that comes with significant financial implications that should not be considered carelessly. While balancing work and study can be very difficult, having a form of income while studying can be a great way to soften the financial load of your tuition costs. Because of this, many students are interested in the question of how feasible it is to maintain their employment while undergoing the rigorous theological education found in Westminster’s degree programs. In this article that question will be answered by taking a closer look at the options available for online students as well as for residential students.
Considerations for Online Students
The options for maintaining employment are typically significantly more plentiful for online students than for residential students. This is because the nature of our online programs is much more flexible than their residential counterparts. For instance, since lecture content is available in an on-demand format, you can expect fewer scheduling conflicts than if you needed to be mindful of set times required for attending lectures on campus. This allows you to structure your schedule more conveniently as you adjust your study schedule to your working hours.
The online program is also built to fit just about any work schedule at nearly any pace from the start. Worried about an important life event or work responsibility dictating when you can start the program? Our trimester system allows you more options to begin the program in accordance with your life schedule.
Wondering about the ideal pace for completing a program? If you are planning to continue working full-time, you can set up your study schedule to meet your needs by allocating time for lectures, reading, and homework during mornings, nights, or on weekends. If you are able to operate on a part-time work schedule, you can also maximize your course load per term to complete the program more quickly. Or, if you are content to work at a slower pace, you have the freedom to take fewer courses per term and extend your program finish date. Either option is viable, depending on your goals. Whichever route you take, our online support team is ready to help you through our programs in a way that makes the most sense for you and your particular situation.
Considerations for Residential Students
As mentioned above, there are fewer options for maintaining employment in the residential program than in the online program. This is especially true if you are relocating to the area. However, it is not uncommon for residential students to work while they complete their degree.
Finding a Job in the Area
Many students, upon moving to Philadelphia, will find some form of part-time work. We typically don’t advise full-time students to work more than 20 hours per week. However, if you would prefer to drop below full-time status in order to work more hours, you are free to balance your schedule that way. The drawback to this course of action is that part-time students are not eligible for Westminster scholarships (though you can seek additional external scholarship support). Another option that some students pursue is working on campus. There are a limited number of on-campus jobs, but this can be a suitable option for some students.
In a post-Covid world, many jobs are now available in a remote work environment, allowing employees to experience increased levels of lifestyle and scheduling flexibility. In light of this, it might be worth discussing with your current (or potential) employer about pursuing your employment in a work from home modality.
Another benefit of the proliferation of remote jobs is that you can broaden your job search beyond the limitations of jobs in Philadelphia, expanding your options for securing primary or supplementary income.
This pursuit should be weighed carefully though, particularly if you are thinking about enrolling in online studies. In this case, factors like screen fatigue can make studying in front of a computer challenging if your job already requires you to work in front of a screen for long periods of time. While this situation can be managed through taking frequent breaks to allow your eyes to rest, as well as other stress-reducing techniques like going for light walks and stretching, it is important to consider what circumstances will allow you to thrive overall.
With that being said, Westminster is aware of the difficulty that comes with balancing work and study. And though balancing the two can be challenging, it is certainly not impossible. MDiv alumnus and current ThM student Brian Selby describes balancing his work and study schedule this way:
- “Working while being a student at Westminster is feasible, but it does take a great amount of discipline and self-awareness in order to do both well. Westminster does a great deal to accommodate working students with no classes on Monday and classes ending no later than 3:30 PM on the other weekdays.”
Joel Richards, a recent graduate, worked full-time while studying and had this to say about Westminster’s willingness to accommodate him.
- “Professors who knew I worked were very understanding. The balancing act was very difficult, but WTS worked with me; I felt appreciated and understood.”
Knowing that balancing work and study can be very difficult, WTS offers two scholarships for all students with the hope that no residential student will have to work if they don’t want to during their studies. The scholarships consist of one merit based scholarship that starts at 50% of tuition cost and can scale up to 90%. The other scholarship is a dollar for dollar matching scholarship that can cover the rest of your tuition down to $0 if you raise enough funds. You can find more information on our scholarships here.
Working while studying at Westminster is a great way to ease the financial load of seminary, but it can come with some drawbacks. In light of this, our programs are designed to be flexible enough to accommodate your needs, and there are several ways that you can organize your schedule to make sure that financial obstacles don’t keep you from pursuing the theological education that you might desire.
Still have questions? Our admissions team is ready to hear and discuss your specific situation and evaluate your best options for financial security while at seminary. They are also more than happy to discuss our theological distinctives, the nuances of our degree programs, and examine scholarship opportunities, in order to help you decide whether Westminster is right for you. Connect with our team here.
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