Two Cent Tuesday – Seminary After Your Undergrad?

It was 7 years between the time I graduated with my undergraduate degree and when I began full time seminary studies. For other people, they jump right into seminary as soon as the ink drys on their undergraduate diploma. So, is there any benefit to going to seminary directly after your undergrad or is there benefit to delaying entrance into seminary?

After you vote, feel free to drop your two cents in the comment section.


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Ryan Burns
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  • While there is nothing inherently wrong with entering seminary right after completing your undergraduate studies, it can be a precarious circumstance. This is mostly because at age 22, you have very little practical life experience. I would encourage people to take at least a year or two between undergraduate studies and seminary to get a job, do some ministry, search out your calling, etc. I believe the seminary experience will be much more fruitful because of it.


  • There is no one answer to this question. If God calls you to seminary at 22, go then. If He does not call you until 52, you’d best not go at 22. If He does not call you to seminary at all, serve Him with equal devotion in whatever other occupation you hold.

  • It all depends, but the advice I’ve given most often is to gain life experience, and serve the local church — to get a passion for people, and experience brokenness, theirs and your own.

    Glad I had a 5 year gap between my undergrad and starting seminary, even though I had wanted it to be much shorter span.

    While my advice here agrees with Shaun, Dan brings up a good point, because we need to see the value of any vocation, to God’s glory and our good. There is no sacred vs. secular duality in God’s economy. The pastorate is a holy calling, but no more noble. The Reformers (Luther, Calvin, Melanchton, Tyndale, etc.) believed mightily in this concept, and it is freeing to know that the Gospel goes with believers into every arena of life.

  • I say maybe because not every situation is the same. I agree with Jeff that life experience is necessary and that we should serve in some capacity for a while to make sure of God’s calling. In my situation, I was 29 when I finally graduated with my undergrad for various reasons. I already had two kids and was two months shy of finding out we had another on the way. Needless to say, I went straight into seminary.

    I had also already served as a youth minister and evangelsim/outreach coordinator at various churches. I was ordained before graduating as well. It is for these reasons that I say maybe. At the same time, I really want to echo what Jeff said–get some life experience under your belt (don’t get stuck up in your ivory tower having never experienced real life ministry) and serve in the local church to make sure of your calling. Do not be the 60% who leave the ministry within 5 years of graduating seminary.

  • I thought about going to seminary when I graduated from college, but I decided to take a youth ministry position with my local church. Then after ten years of ministry in one capacity or another, I left to finally go to seminary (which I am half done with). The huge advantage is that the classes are not merely academic, but I have a real-world framework for the things I’m learning. It means ten times as much as it would have before doing practical ministry. On the other hand, I am now married and have five children, so figuring it all out financially is ten times harder than it would have been straight out of college.

  • I am torn between two opinions on this one. I voted maybe because of my indecision.

    Part of me wishes that I had gone to seminary right out of college (for me that would have been in 1992) I would have been much younger when I finished,etc.

    Part of me is glad that I went back to seminary 10 years after college (2002) I am older, have some ministry and real world experience and I met my wife while here.

    There are positives and negatives to both…Every situation is different.

    I think students that have either been in ministry, are older and have some experience, get a bit of respect not only from their younger peers, but the professors also recognize their age and experience place them in a unique situation.

  • I think it is good to wait a little while, because there is a good chance that your world will be rocked while in seminary. I remember what I was like when I was 22, and I was to hard headed to understand what I am learning now.

    But if you are serious about following an academic vocation it might not be a bad idea to go straight in.

  • I would definately say that time working full time in some capacity should be a requirement before enterin seminary. I just turned 26 and recently completed my first semester of a 3 year M Div program. After undergrad I spent a year working in the corporate world and almost 2 years after that working full time in a church. The time I spent working before entering semnary was invaluable to my current experience. You can tell a substantial difference between the students who entered right out of undergrad and those who took the time to gain some real life experience. Even just a couple years will open your eyes to the way practical theology is approached in the church or even secular setting.

Written by Ryan Burns