Field Education is a valuable way that the student’s classroom experience is tested and applied in the context of the church. The purposes are: 1) to help Master of Divinity (M.Div.) students to test, exercise and improve their gifts and skills; 2) to equip them with diversified backgrounds of firsthand experiences in the service to which God has called them; and 3) to encourage their theological reflection on the tasks of the ministry.
All M.Div. students are required to have 400 hours of Field Education during their time in seminary. Many students have had very valuable ministry experience before beginning their studies; nevertheless, the seminary expects students to have ministry internships under the oversight of both faculty and trained supervisors as a part of the seminary curriculum. This experiential education in the ministry context is an essential component of the seminarian’s personal growth and preparation for ministry. The requirements may be met through a part-time internship, a summer intensive, or other possible arrangements negotiated with the Director of Field Education.
Seminary Partnership with the Local Church—ministry internships enable students to integrate classroom theory with practical hands-on experience through the pairing of experienced Christians with seminary students in ministry-based education. During the field education experience students learn about themselves and the ministry under the guidance of a trained supervisor.
Supervision provides the platform for students to receive candid feedback on personal development, spiritual growth and ministry skills. Through this partnership with the local church, a triadic relationship of learning emerges in which student, supervisor, and faculty together do theological reflection on the practice of ministry.
Denominational Requirements—many denominations require internships and RTS desires to work within those parameters where possible to assist the student. Students are encouraged to communicate with denominational officials early in their seminary career in order to avoid unnecessary duplication or delays in meeting denominational standards.
Field Education Process
- Locating a Field Education Ministry and Supervisor: The initiative for securing an appropriate ministry site is the responsibility of the student. Students should network with seminary faculty, friends, denominational contacts and others to assist them in locating a ministry site. The Director of Field Education must approve all internship sites and supervisors.
- Field Education Registration: Prior to or concurrent with the beginning of the field experience, students are required to take Introduction to Pastoral and Theological Studies (ST502). In order to begin the Field Education experience, students must submit the “Field Education Registration Form” and the “Learning Covenant Worksheet” to the Director of Field Education. Upon approval, the required 400 hours can start accumulating. RTS guidelines for Field Education must be adhered to closely in order to meet the M.Div. degree requirement.
- Field Education Supervisors: Students are responsible for selecting a supervisor, who must be approved by the Director of Field Education and meet the qualifications listed below.
Qualifications for a Supervisor:
- They have demonstrated Christian maturity and competence in ministry, possessing the necessary knowledge and giftedness for faithful ministry.
- They have the necessary supervisory skills and time to direct, shepherd, and evaluate a student.
- They are actively engaged in full-time church or specialized ministry with at least three (3) years of experience.
- They must have theological training (usually a seminary degree).
- Regularly meet with the student in order to provide encouragement, guidance, and feedback of the student’s progress and recommendations for further growth (minimum of 40 hours).
- Provide a variety of real ministry opportunities for the student.
- Complete a final evaluation on the student’s giftedness for ministry.
- Evaluations: “Evaluation Forms” will be completed by the student and supervisor. The “Student Evaluation Form” reviews the internship in the light of the original learning covenant and evaluates the supervisor and ministry. Supervisors are asked to submit the “Supervisor Evaluation Form” directly to the Director of Field Education. Students are responsible that these reports are submitted in order to register for the FE Seminar.
- Field Education Seminar (PT534): After students have finished the 400 hour requirement, they are eligible to take the Field Education Seminar. Students must get the Director of Field Education approval to register for the class, which is scheduled during the Fall and Spring semesters.
Each student does an oral presentation that candidly reviews their experience. This is shared in strict confidence in the seminar allowing freedom of dialog with peers and the professor.
Attendance at all sessions of the Field Education Seminar is required. Grading for the seminar is Pass/Fail.
NOTE: Priority for Field Education Seminar registration will be given to students graduating in the current academic year.