VST has designed our Distance degree programming with quality intellectual and spiritual formation in mind. Students can get the best of a VST education, integrate into the on-site VST community, and grow in mind and spirit all with only minimal travel requirements.
VST’s main platform for distance education is through Zoom and CANVAS, where off-site students participate in classes being taught on campus each term. The majority of Fall and Spring term classes are available in this format, with any exceptions noted on the term’s timetable and/or individual course descriptions. Off-site students can choose to connect via Zoom concurrently to the on-site class time (recommended), or to watch a video/audio recording of the class at some later time in the same week. Off site students are expected to follow along weekly with the required readings and assignments. Intensive courses are always only available on-site.
While the Certificate and Diploma programs may be completed entirely off-site, Ministry-oriented programs (M.Div and MA PPL) require that 1/3 of the degree be completed on-site at VST’s main campus. Research-orientated programs (MATS and MA IIS) require that ¼ of the degree be completed on-site. Please contact the Registrar for more information.
On-site requirements are fulfilled in 3 ways:
- Intensive courses offered in the January Interterm or Summer School in which all students are present on campus for the entire course.
- Hybrid courses in which distance students are present on campus for one intensive 5-day weekend and are connected by Zoom to the rest of the classes spread out over the semester. The intensive weekend falls mid-semester and contains over half the classes of the course (6); the other 5 classes of the course are accomplished through synchronous or asynchronous Zoom connections.
- Specialized on-site weekend intensive courses in which all students are present for the entire course. These short courses (1 – 1.5 credit hours) are used for particular denominational requirements like polity courses or spiritual retreats. This format used in these courses helps address the needs for denominationally-relevant opportunities for interaction, peer learning, development of pastoral skills, and growth in personal, spiritual formation
Beginning your program: Community Building and Orientation Week
At Vancouver School of Theology, all of our students are valued members of our community, and building and sustaining a strong community life is a central value throughout one’s intellectual and spiritual formation at VST. Students pursuing their degree through VST’s Off-Site program have unique challenges when it comes to building and sustaining community with others who study and work on the VST campus.
In order to begin the journey with grounding in VST’s community, we believe it to be essential to engage all of the senses right out of the gate. Sharing meals and smiles along with information; singing and praying side by side; meeting the instructors and students with whom you will be taking classes – all of this, and more, will make all the difference in ensuring a meaningful experience in theological education.
All Off-Site Degree students are required to come onto the VST campus for 4 days at the beginning of their program of study. Diploma students are strongly encouraged, but not required, to attend VST Orientation as well.
During these 4 days, off-site students will:
- Join the annual Orientation and Community Building Week events
- Meet VST faculty, students and staff
- Become familiar with VST policies, programs, and other aspects of VST student life
- Share meals and worship together
- Develop relationships with other students whom they will be studying alongside
- Receive special training and orientation for Zoom, CANVAS, and off-site class learning
- Get their student card and library cards
- Purchase required textbooks for their classes
- Attend a denominational retreat (if applicable)
Whenever possible, off-site students are encouraged to join the Community Building and Orientation Week every year throughout their studies. However, is it only required in their entering year.
Technology Requirements for Off-Site study
Students registering in the Off-Site program must have access to the following:
- A broadband internet connection
- A modern PC or Tablet (Windows Desktop or Laptop recommended, manufactured within the last 5 years)
- An internet browser such as (but not limited to) Mozilla Firefox or Chrome
- A pair of headphones (Over-ear recommended)
- A USB microphone (if using a desktop PC. Most laptops, phones and tablets have a mic built in)
In addition to these basic technological requirements, successful off-site students:
- Are self-motivated, independent learners who don’t procrastinate
- Are able to comprehend written and spoken material without extensive direct guidance from a teacher
- Can easily put thoughts to paper (or computer!)
- Have access to a quiet study-space at home or in their community
- Are not afraid to ask questions and reach out to instructors and peers
- Have at least 8 hours each week to devote to each class
- Have or are willing to develop strong research skills and experience using libraries, inter-library loan services, and online resources
Library Resources for off-site study
During an off-site student’s first 5-day Orientation to VST, all students will obtain both a VST Library Card and a UBC Library card. With these cards, all off-site students will have:
- Access to ATLA database and other smaller theological databases on the VST library site
- Access to UBC library and research databases
- E-books and online resources
- Inter-library loans through their local public library branch
- Mail-loans from the VST library collection
Tuition and fees
Tuition is the same for off-site students as it is for those on-site. Some of the on-site student fees do not apply. Those studying solely off-site in any given term are assessed the following student fees:
- VST Registration fee: $35/term
- VST Student’s Association Fee: $10/term
- Distance Technology Surcharge: $20/credit hour of off-site registration
As off-site students are not coming onto campus, no UBC fees are automatically assessed. If a student lives in the Lower Mainland and would like to receive the benefits of UBC Student membership, they may choose to ‘opt in’ to the UBC Bundle (AMS; Health & Dental; UPASS). It is not possible to select among the benefits – they come as a package, or not at all. For more information on these fees, please see the Admissions section of the VST website.
Application and Admissions
A student is considered enrolled in an off-site program if 40% or more of their course requirements are completed off-site of the main campus of Vancouver School of Theology.
Applicants must indicate their intention to pursue their program primarily via off-site programming upon initial application to VST. As part of their ‘Personal Statement’ portion of the VST application, off-site applicants must articulate to what degree they have the technological requirements as well the personal context and characteristics for successful off-site study. All other application requirements remain the same as for on-site students. See the Admissions section of the VST website for more information.