What Can I Do with a Theological Studies Certificate?
August 25, 2023
Westminster offers the Theological Studies Certificates (TSC) program to serve those who desire some level of formal theological education but are not ready or willing to commit to a full degree program. This article provides an overview of the skills that are developed in the TSC program, the type of student that would benefit most from the TSC program, the difference between the TSC and the Master’s of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS), and what transitioning from the TSC into the MATS program might look like if you want to use your TSC credits towards a full degree.
Skills Acquired Through Westminster’s TSC
The Theological Studies Certificates program is designed to instill a basic knowledge of Scripture, Reformed theology, biblical theology, and redemptive history in its graduates. Westminster offers three distinct and independent certificates that can also build upon each other to count towards a full MATS degree:
- Foundations of Theology
- Biblical Interpretation
- History of Theology
Each certificate track distills the instruction of our renowned faculty into an accessible learning opportunity for those looking to become acquainted with theological topics at a deeper level, without requiring the deeper commitments of a full degree.
These certificates only require 9 credits to complete, and are taught in a fully online format by our world-class faculty. These certificates supply students with a logical, organized, and cohesive understanding of theology, Scripture, and church history that is difficult to attain through independent study (so say goodbye to endlessly Googling questions and hunting for doctrinally sound YouTube videos).
You will be given a taste of some of the best theological education in the world and you will develop an understanding of how to apply God’s unchanging word to a changing world. Whatever your context might be, the TSC will be a benefit to your and your ministry.
Who is the TSC for?
Those who cannot (or don’t want to) commit to a full master’s
The TSC is ideal for students who desire some formal theological education but, for whatever reason(s), might not be interested in or able to commit to a full master’s program.
While there are certainly a number of resources available for people who are interested in pursuing greater theological understanding, doing so in an unguided way can be challenging at best and theologically dangerous at worst. In this way, the TSC is a great alternative to self-study because your course of study will be guided by some of the world's foremost experts in theology.
If you are considering a full degree program at Westminster, the TSC allows you to get a taste for the seminary, its theological distinctives, and its student experience in a low-stakes manner. And if you decide to enroll in an MATS later, you can also use your TSC credits towards that degree (more on this below).
Parents and non-ministry-related career professionals
Whether you are seeking theological development to better lead your family in the faith, to engage your friends or coworkers in sharing the Gospel, or to support your church ministry as a lay-leader, the TSC will bolster your ability to apply God’s Word to the situation at hand. *Note that for extensive non-vocational ministry, we always advise a full theological program like the MATS or MAC when it is possible for a student to undertake more extensive studies, but for those engaging in ministry in a non-official capacity, the TSC is more than adequate.
Continuing education and those new to Reformed theology
Additionally, the TSC can be a great form of continuing education for those who might already be in a ministry career. Even if you have already done a full master’s program, it may help keep your theological skills sharp without having to commit to a full course of study. The TSC can also serve as continuing education for those ministry professionals who may have only recently become exposed to Reformed theology.
Difference Between TSC and MATS
Both the TSC and the MATS seek to provide formal education for those who want to engage in non-ordained ministry. Neither program requires the original biblical languages of Greek and Hebrew as part of its course material. The difference is that the MATS is a full course of study that culminates in an accredited master’s degree. The MATS takes 1.5-3 years to complete as opposed to just one year for the TSC. In terms of credits, the MATS degree requires 36, whereas each Theological Studies Certificate only requires 9 credits to complete.
Transitioning from TSC to MATS
Westminster’s certificate courses can be transferred into its MATS program. In fact, if you complete all three certificates, in order to convert your coursework into an MATS you would only need to complete 3 more elective courses and finish a summative evaluation which would consist of either a comprehensive exam, an integrative paper, or a capstone project. However, there are no scholarships available for the TSC while there are for the MATS, so if you are planning to transition to the MATS, you may want to consider making that transition sooner than later.
If you are seeking the benefit of a structured, formal, theological education without the heavier commitment of a full theological degree program, the Theological Studies Certificates are perfect for you. With no obligation to complete all three, you can choose which certificate most interests you, complete multiple, or press on to pursue a MATS down the road. In the TSC you will improve your preparedness for ministry, learn to more effectively shepherd your family from the truth of God’s Word, and grow in your love and faithfulness to the Lord. If this sounds like something you desire, we encourage you to learn more about the program and to apply now.
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