What makes VST unique?
VST is called to educate and form thoughtful, engaged and generous Christian leaders for service to the church and the world in the 21st Century. The majority of our students are preparing for Christian ministry by learning in the classroom, in the field, and through distance learning modules. Students are also preparing for vocations in new church starts, non-profit agencies, social entrepreneurships and institutional chaplaincies. VST has created a unique Leadership Studio recognizing that leadership is as much an art as a profession.
For 35 years the Indigenous Studies Program has been serving the educational needs of North American Indigenous Church communities with distance and onsite forms of learning. VST’s Inter-Religious Studies Program invites students from different traditions to study together and engage in respectful interfaith collaboration. All this is preparation for effective ministry in a modern and diverse world. Through a new initiative launched in 2017-18 with the UBC Sauder School of Business, VST offers a Certificate in Leadership Excellence, equipping candidates with the basic administrative and management skills required to lead successfully in a wide variety of venues.
Watch the VST Promise
Is VST a place for me?
At VST we believe that the study of theology is worth your life. Loving God and living a life of commitment requires knowledge of the Triune God. Theological education involves losing yourself to someone greater than yourself. And strangely to learn in this fashion is to find your-self. Committed, and faith-driven individuals are prepared to roll up their sleeves and engage the world. Are you thoughtful? Do you reflect about how to interact with the challenges of our time? Are you willing to work to discern the movement of the Spirit and go with the flow?
At VST we strive to create and take part in networks across denominations, faith traditions, and cultural differences with whom to collaborate for the love of God, the good of creation, friendship, and human fullness. Christ calls us to love our neighbour unconditionally, to learn from our neighbour without fear, and to act with and for others with integrity.
If you are called to ministry, willing to be challenged intellectually, culturally and theologically and to walk alongside a diverse and inclusive cohort of fellow students, then VST may be the place for you.
Who attends VST?
The student body at VST ranges in age from early 20s to early 70s; and the average age is early 30s. About 75 per cent of VST’s student body comes from our sponsoring denominations: Anglican Church of Canada, Presbyterian Church in Canada, and United Church of Canada. 25 per cent comes from other denominations, faith traditions, and the broader community. Most students are enrolled in programs leading to congregational ministry, others move into leadership outside of the church.
VST has an inclusive, non-discriminatory policy and strives to create a space of welcome for all. VST welcomes students, staff and faculty of many different sexual orientations and gender identities.
Which degree is right for me?
I am interested in ordained ministry and serving the church through congregational leadership: MDiv
I want to exercise my faith and theological education in other forms of vocational ministry (e.g. emerging church models, chaplaincy): MAPPL
I am passionate about the academic pursuit of theological knowledge and biblical studies: MATS
I want to deepen my understanding of the monotheistic and Indigenous traditions in pursuit of leadership in a pluralistic world: MA IIS
I already have a first degree in theology and want to pursue further specialization: ThM
I am seeking a solid foundation in theological studies for lay leadership. I want to enhance another career: Diploma programs
I want to engage in theological studies but don’t want the rigour of a graduate degree program: Certificate in Theological Studies
(Please note these examples are representative, not comprehensive.)
I want to be a minister. Will my denomination accept a Master of Divinity from VST?
VST’s Master of Divinity program is accepted for ordination by the United, Anglican, and Presbyterian churches in Canada, and by the Presbyterian and United Church of Christ churches in the United States. Many other denominations accept all or part of this program but may require at least one year in their own denominational school. Please check with your denominational authorities to be sure.
Can I complete a VST diploma or degree program without moving to Vancouver?
Yes. VST offers extensive offsite programming which allows students to complete degree programs without moving to Vancouver. Most of the degree programs require on site intensives offered three times a year. Distance learning students can attend class in real-time through Zoom, a video platform that helps them interact with their professors and other students, see each other’s faces and engage in the important dialogue that frames deep learning.
Will I have opportunities for practical ministry during my time at VST?
Yes. The School enjoys close cooperative relationships with local churches, hospitals, social service agencies and other institutions. These enable VST to provide you with supervised learning programs in a diverse array of ministry specializations. Students are also given the opportunity to take more advanced courses as electives in this field. Each degree program has units for contextual-based learning.
A unique ministry preparation opportunity exists at VST through our Leadership Studio. Just as an artist brings raw materials, passion and creativity into a studio, so too do we. The raw material of leadership is very simply the story of each student’s own life. In the interplay of narrative, context, and theology, real life challenges come into the Studio each week: experiences on which to practice technique, to test theories, to recover passion, and to weather failure. Students who seize the opportunity to create from what they bring into the studio are transformed through their efforts, their insights, and the love of the craft of leadership.
I have lots of experience but not a university degree. May I come to VST?
Yes, with some prerequisites.
VST will consider applications to its diploma and degree programs from applicants without a baccalaureate degree if it is sufficiently demonstrated that the applicant is fully capable of graduate level work. While VST’s sponsoring denominations have their own stipulations for candidates for ordination without a baccalaureate degree, applicants for admission in this category must fulfill the following requirements:
- Minimum age: 30
- Have completed the equivalent of at least two years of study in a university arts program, with a ‘B’ average. In some instances, the Admissions Committee permits students to register if they have one year of arts degree credits.
- Submit, along with their application, a 500-word supplement explaining how experience, vocational training, and education have prepared them for graduate theological studies and what they hope to achieve through study at VST.
- Students applying to the MDiv degree program without a first degree (BA or equivalent) must already be accepted as candidates for ministry in their respective denominations.
- Applicants without a first degree must apply by the March 15th application deadline.
Spaces for non-BA applicants are limited.
Please note the Continuing Education Certificate program does not require a first degree for admission. You may also wish to explore the VST Track – BA in Theology & Culture from St. Mark’s College. Students who achieve their undergraduate degree through this program also have the opportunity to take all the first year VST master’s courses in their final two years of the BA program.
Can I take a class if I am not enrolled in a degree or diploma program?
Yes. Most of our classes are open to people wishing to audit a course. With permission from the Registrar, students may be granted unclassified student status if they have started an application to VST or are enrolled in another theological institution. In addition, VST’s summer school offers seminars and courses that are shorter and aimed at both interested lay people and practicing clergy. VST Summer School, the Indigenous Studies Program Summer School, evening/weekend programs, and various lecture series may also interest you.
Is VST wheelchair accessible?
Yes, both the main VST building and the Chapel of the Epiphany are completely wheelchair accessible.
Does VST welcome international students?
Yes. International students are an important part of the community at VST. These students bring complex, diverse voices and experiences to their classrooms, and their insight greatly enhances the VST community. International students pay tuition on par with Canadian students, and US Students are eligible to apply for Federal Student Aid. Vancouver School of Theology has been approved for the Educational Quality Assurance designation by the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education and is a Designated Learning Institution for Canadian Immigration & Citizenship.
International students seeking information about VST should contact the school via email at email@example.com. International telephone and Skype communication are often difficult and not our preferred way to respond to queries.
How can I afford a theological education?
Although VST’s tuition costs are lower than many comparable private universities, the cost of theological education is considerable. There are many ways to finance an educational program. In addition to their own assets, many students are eligible for student loans from the Canadian Federal and Provincial or US governments. Financial assistance is available from VST in the form of tuition bursaries, presently up to 50% of tuition. For scholarships, priority is given to students with B+ average, demonstrated aptitude for ministry, endorsement by their denominational leadership and commitment to fulfilling the vision of VST.
Our sponsoring denominations have grant programs for students of their denomination:
- Anglican Church of Canada Bursaries
- Presbyterian Church in Canada (search for Bursary List for PCC Ministry Candidates download)
- United Church of Canada Scholarships & Bursaries
Scholarships & Bursaries
There are many sources of external bursaries and other awards, External Scholarships & Bursaries
There are also part-time student work positions (25-50 hours per term @ $15/hour) at VST for which students may apply, visit VST Financial Aid.
How do I arrange a visit to Vancouver School of Theology?
VST hosts two Open Houses each year – one in the fall and one in spring. The Fall Open House is a full day and guests can meet faculty and the admissions staff, tour the school, worship and eat lunch in community, and attend a class in the afternoon. The Spring Explorers Weekend happens over a weekend (Thursday to Sunday). Along with all the items in the Fall Open House, the Spring session also includes participation in the G. Peter Kaye Lectures annual event.