Both bible colleges and seminaries provide theological and pastoral training for Christians, but they differ in the academic level that they operate at. In the United States and Canada, Bible colleges are undergraduate schools and seminaries are graduate schools.
What Are Bible Colleges?
As undergraduate schools, bible colleges offer associate and bachelors degrees. The bachelors degrees may be bachelors of science or bachelors of arts degrees depending on the program, and the associate degrees may also be associate of science or associate of art degrees. Associate degrees tend to be two-year programs, while bachelors degrees are usually four-year programs if enrolled full-time.
Common bible college bachelors degrees include the B.A. or B.S. in Biblical Studies, B.A. in Pastoral Ministry, B.A. in Chrisitan Education and many others. Associate degrees are often in similar areas of study, and there’s an associate degree available in each of the aforementioned fields.
Some bible colleges are now universities or part of a larger university. Universities are normally schools that have multiple colleges within them, so a christian university may have a bible college and several other colleges within it. The other colleges are often more secular in nature, although they still usually are approached from a christian perspective. Universities may also award graduate degrees.
Bible colleges frequently also offer certificate programs, which are shorter programs that students who are studying secular disciplines can complete for a basic christian foundation. These are often pursued by students who don’t intend to pursue chrisitan ministry in a vocational role but who want to know more about the faith.
Most bible colleges require enrolling students to have a high school diploma or G.E.D., although there may be exceptions in extenuating circumstances.
What Are Seminaries?
As graduate schools, seminaries offer masters and doctoral degrees. These include both professional degrees as well as academic (i.e., research-focused) degrees. The length of program varies from one year to four-plus years, depending on the degree pursued.
The most common seminary degree is the master of divinity, which is generally pursued by people who want to become ordained ministers. There are many other degree options, however. Some of the other degrees include masters degrees in biblical fields, doctor of ministry degrees, doctor of missiology degrees, and doctor of philosophy degrees. Most master of divinity programs take three or four years to complete if enrolled full-time.
Seminaries also offer certificate programs, and these usually are one semester or one year long. Unlike bible college programs, however, seminary certificate programs are comprised of graduate-level classes.
Most seminaries require enrolling students to have a four-year undergraduate degree, but it’s doesn’t have to be from a bible college. Exceptions to the degree requirement might be made in certain situations.
Choose a Bible College or Seminary
If you’re interested in studying the Christian faith within an academic setting, either bible college or seminary could be a good choice. Peruse the many bible colleges that are available if you’re qualified to be an undergraduate student, and check out the selection of seminaries if you are ready for a graduate program.