In addition to the foundational components of its degree programs, Palmer Theological Seminary offers a wide variety of supplementary educational opportunities.
The West Virginia Program
The program in West Virginia exists to provide theological education to qualified persons in this region who find it difficult to be absent from their primary residence. Students may take courses toward the M.Div. degree, to gain recognition of their ordination or to earn CEUs. Program requirements are equivalent to those on campus. Courses are usually taught in one-week intensives by regular Palmer Theological Seminary faculty and by part-time faculty from the West Virginia or the Philadelphia areas. Details are available from the On-Site Administrator, Dr. William Thomas, and the Registrar's Office on the Philadelphia campus.
January and Summer Terms
In addition to the regular semester courses, several short-term courses are offered in January and early summer. Introductory courses in biblical languages (New Testament Greek and Biblical Hebrew) are taught regularly. An Introduction to Clinical Pastoral Care is also given at hospitals in the area, operating on a schedule of five full days per week.
Other courses in the January and Summer terms are either one or two weeks in length. They are designed for: 1) current degree students and others desiring academic credit, 2) pastors and others in professional ministry who wish to engage in continuing education and 3) lay persons who are seeking to expand their understanding of the faith and their gifts for ministry. Information regarding specific offerings is available from the Registrar's Office.
The Mission Institute represents a unique opportunity for persons interested in the missionary task of the Church today to explore the biblical basis for mission, contemporary trends in missionary practice and theory, and models of mission at work in the region in which the Seminary is located. It is an experience of learning in community from practitioners, from taking part in transcultural experiences through a variety of educational media and from grasping a vision of the challenges to the Church at a global level.
Palmer Theological Seminary's faculty accepts the standards developed by the National Task Force on the CEU for granting continuing education units (CEU). One Continuing Education Unit is defined as: "Ten contact hours of participation in an organized continuing education experience under responsible sponsorship, capable direction and qualified instruction" (National Task Force on the CEU, 1974).
The following guidelines govern the offering of course experiences for CEU credit:
- January and Summer Term electives are available for those seeking CEU credit (unless otherwise specified).
- Courses during the academic year may be taken for CEU credit by special arrangement between the student and the course professor, with the approval of the Academic Dean.
- Courses, workshops and conferences, designed especially for CEU may be offered at specially arranged times. These usually are not available for academic credit.
- To receive CEUs, students must meet the minimum requirement of ten (10) contact hours of participation for each unit of credit.
- The Seminary will grant a certificate indicating the number of CEU credits earned, following the completion of each course or other educational experience.
For over twenty years a seminar has been conducted with students and faculty from several seminaries, at which papers are presented by students for discussion. The number of students participating is limited to four from each Seminary. These seminars provide opportunities for learning in an ecumenical setting, and students earn credit for participating.
In the late spring, the faculty selects students. The students topics for papers within an agreed overall theme. They are expected to have their preparation largely completed (under the guidance of a faculty member) by the end of the summer. Students are expected to attend all sessions.
Overseas Ministries Study Center
Palmer Theological Seminary co-sponsors the Seminar for Seminary Students at the Overseas Ministries Study Center in New Haven, CT. A joint project between the Center and seminaries in the region, it provides an outstanding educational experience in mission theology and praxis through the leadership of an exceptionally exciting and diverse faculty. Students may register for any week or a combination of weeks in January and earn up to four course units (one unit per week).
Regular tuition is paid to the Seminary, from which membership and registration fees go to the Center. Registration forms are available from the Registrar. Policy statements outlining the requirements for obtaining academic credit are provided in the Student Handbook.
Missionary- and Pastor/Scholar-in-Residence Program
Palmer Theological Seminary attempts to arrange for a missionary, missionary couple or pastor to live or be on campus to: 1) heighten awareness of local and global issues and needs, 2) deepen understanding of the worldwide mission of the churches, 3) share their cross-cultural and pastoral experiences (rural and urban) and 4) challenge the Seminary community to become more involved in the global mission of the Church.
To complement classroom education, the Seminary sponsors four lectureships.
The Wilmer C. Swartley Lectureship
This lectureship makes it possible to invite to the campus outstanding preachers and teachers of preachers to deliver lectures on preaching. Mrs. Wilmer C. Swartley established the lectureship in memory of her husband.
The Frank B. Mitchell Lectureship
This lectureship was named for the Reverend Dr. Frank B. Mitchell, former pastor of Pinn Memorial Baptist Church in Philadelphia who was a friend and supporter of Palmer Theological Seminary and its African American students.
The lectureship is designed to raise critical questions concerning the nature of theology and ministry from an African American Church perspective.
The Philadelphia Consortium on the Study of Religion
This consortium, the largest organization of its kind in the nation, consists of 42 colleges, universities and seminaries in Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Palmer Theological Seminary. Its purpose is to provide an umbrella for the academic study of religion among institutions. It provides a context in which various arrangements among the several schools may flourish. The basic operating principle is the voluntary association and cooperation of individual schools in a variety of projects. Students may take courses from consortium schools as approved by the Deans' Office.