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, where offsite 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, Offsite students can usually choose to connect via Zoom concurrently to the on-site class time (recommended), or watch a video/audio recording of the class later in the same week, if they have conflicting schedules. Certain courses must be taken synchronously (in real-time). This will be noted on the timetable and online course description. Offsite students are expected to follow along weekly with the required readings and assignments.
Certain Intensive and hybrid courses are sometimes only available on-site, and may require travel to Vancouver if these courses are required in your program, or if you wish to take them as electives.
While most Certificate and Diploma programs may be completed entirely offsite, Ministry-oriented programs (MDiv and MAPPL) require that 1/3 of the degree be completed on-site at VST’s main campus. Research-orientated programs (MATS and Th.M) can also normally be completed entirely off-site. Indigenous and Inter-religious programs (Dip IIS; MA IIS and Th.M IIS) require some coursework which is only available on campus and will require some travel to Vancouver. 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 teaching hours of the course; the other hours of the course are accomplished through synchronous or asynchronous Zoom classes for distance students.
- 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 specific denominational requirements like polity courses or spiritual retreats. The format used in these courses helps address the needs for denomination specific interactions, peer learning, development of pastoral skills, and growth in ones personal and spiritual formation.
Beginning Your Program
Community Building & 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 offsite 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 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 offsite degree students are required to come onto the VST campus for 4 days at the beginning of their program of study. Diploma and Certificate students are strongly encouraged, but not required, to attend VST Orientation as well.
During these 4 days, offsite 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 fellow students
- Receive special training and orientation for Zoom, and offsite class learning tools
- Get their student card and library cards
- Purchase required textbooks for their classes
- Attend a denominational retreat (if applicable)
Whenever possible, offsite 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 offsite program must have access to the following:
- A high-speed internet connection
- A modern desktop or laptop computer (Windows or Mac) or tablet
- A secure internet browser (i.e. Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome)
- A pair of headphones
- A USB microphone (If using a desktop computer. Most laptops, and tablets have a built-in mic.)
In addition to these basic technological requirements, successful offsite students:
- Are self-motivated, independent learners who don’t procrastinate
- Can 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
Tuition & Fees
Tuition is the same for offsite students as it is for those on-site. Some of the on-site student fees do not apply. Those studying solely offsite in any given term are assessed for the following student fees:
- VST Registration and Technology fee
- VST Student’s Association fee
As offsite students are not coming onto campus, no UBC fees are automatically assessed. If a student lives in the Greater Vancouver Area 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 specific benefits – they come as a package, or not at all. For more information on these fees, please see Tuition & Fees.
Application & Admissions
A student is considered enrolled in an offsite program if 50% or more of their course requirements are completed offsite of the main campus of Vancouver School of Theology.
Applicants must indicate their intention to pursue their program primarily via offsite programming upon initial application to VST. As part of their ‘Personal Statement’ portion of the VST application, offsite applicants must articulate to what degree they possess the technological requirements as well the personal context and characteristics for successful offsite study. All other application requirements remain the same as for on-site students. For more information please visit Apply to VST.