dcsimg

How to Become A Priest

Some Christian religions and many non-Christian religions such as Hinduism, Shinto and Judaism have priests. This article provides information about how to become a priest in a Christian religion and focuses on information from three specific faiths - the Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church and the Orthodox Church of America. Most Christian religions in the U.S. have ministers rather than priests, but the process to become one is similar.

What does it take to become a priest?

In almost all major U.S. religions, a student has to obtain, attend, and participate in the following to become a priest:

  1. A bachelor's degree. Disciplines for this 4-year degree can include history, philosophy, communications, English, general studies and, of course, religious studies, but degrees in other disciplines may also be acceptable.
  2. A professional degree. Depending on the denomination, this 3-5 year graduate degree usually culminates in a degree such as Master of Divinity, Master of Theology, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Religion or Master of Sacred Theology.
  3. Seminary. Most students attend a seminary for graduate-level programs. The Orthodox Church of America also allows high school students to attend seminary concurrent with earning their bachelor's and master's degrees.
  4. Supervised ministry. Most graduate programs either include a supervised ministry component or else students are required to complete supervised ministry following graduation.
  5. Ordination. Through this process, the priest's church "invests the individual with pastoral authority" to perform ceremonies such as baptisms, marriages and to hear confessions, if appropriate.

 What kind of course work does a student who wants to become a priest take?

Course work can vary by program and school or seminary, but common themes run throughout most programs and generally include the following:

  • New and Old Testament
  • History of Christianity
  • American Christianity
  • Prophetic literature
  • God and creation
  • Singing the faith
  • Religion and politics
  • Religion and human sexuality
  • Jewish scripture
  • Introduction to Islam
  • Ethics and fundamental moral theology
  • Spirituality
  • Evangelism
  • Canon law
  • Pastoral ministry
  • Parish administration

Some Master of Divinity programs also have concentrations such as Biblical Interpretations, Youth and Student Ministries, Pastoral Studies, Biblical Counseling, and Worldview and Apologetics.

Are classes "one faith fits all"?

Differences in programs to become a priest depend on the Christian denomination and the requirements for its priests as well as the specific school or seminary. Seminaries are usually either nondenominational or aligned with a specific Christian denomination. Seminaries and schools that are supported by a specific faith offer course work that is in line with their beliefs, which may differ somewhat from others. Some schools require attendance at religious services as part of their curriculum, which could create problems for a student if he or she practices a different religion. A list of theological seminaries and their faith affiliations is available online.

There may be slight variations in the length of the professional degree programs and what course work is taught, but the important components that are uniformly stressed across all faiths are a willingness to offer your life in service to God, an understanding of your faith, and a desire to share it with others.

Sources:

Course Listings for MDiv, Episcopal Divinity School http://www.eds.edu/course-listings
Frequently Asked Questions About Hinduism, Sri Siva Vishnu Temple http://www.ssvt.org/Education/Hinduism%20FAQ.asp# 
How to Become a Shinto Priest April 13, 2006 Encyclopedia of Shinto http://eos.kokugakuin.ac.jp/modules/xwords/entry.php?entryID=515
Joseph Kitagawa Excerpt: Priesthood in the History of Religions 2007 Catherine of Siena Virtual College http://www.catherinecollegelibrary.net/classic/kitagawa.asp
Master of Divinity 2013 Yale University Divinity School http://divinity.yale.edu/admissions/master-divinity
MDiv Degree Program Saint Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary http://www.stots.edu/master_of_divinity.html
Procedure to Become a Priest 2013 Orthodox Church in America http://oca.org/questions/priesthoodmonasticism/procedure-to-become-a-priest
Program of Priestly Formation Seton Hall University http://www.shu.edu/academics/theology/priestly-formation/curriculum.cfm
National Religious Vocation Conference Sixteen Questions About Church Vocations 2013 Catholic Religious Vocation Network http://www.vocationnetwork.org/articles/show/131?m=6&sm=4
The Big List of Theological Seminaries 2013 http://churchrelevance.com/resources/theological-seminaries-list/  


Priest Training

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            Master of Arts in Ministry - Practical Theology
            • Ranked among the 2015 Best National Universities by U.S. News & World Report.
            • Designated as a Military Friendly School every year since 2012 by Victory Media.
            • Offers credit for prior learning and experience through assessment tests.
            • Provides a short term Leadership Certification program in partnership with EQUIP®.
            • Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA).
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Online Master of Information
            • Ranked one of the Top Public Schools in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Founded in 1766 as a public institution; it has a main campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey and offers many programs online.
            • Has an average freshman retention rate of 91.8%.
            • Its student-faculty ratio is 14:1, and 38% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
            • Has famous alumni including chef and restauranteur Mario Batali, author Junot Diaz, actor James Gandolfini, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Gender Diversity Studies - MA in Psychology
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor's Programs in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.
            • Implements a one-to-one teaching model, partnering one student with one faculty member in each course.
            • 100% of faculty members hold doctoral degrees.
            • No physical residency requirements, allowing students to pursue their degree online.
            • Committed to innovation, diversity, excellence, and accountability since its founding in 1996.
            • Offers several programs in business, education, psychology, and more.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Master of Social Work
            • Earn a Master of Social Work online from top-ranked USC
            • Program can be completed in as little as one year
            • The CSWE-accredited program features live, online classes and hands-on field experiences near your community.
            • GRE scores are not required to apply
            • Bachelor's degree is required to apply
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            B.S. in Human Services / Human Services Management
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Founded in 1890, it has a campus in Waterbury, CT and offers online degree program in eight-week modules, six times a year.
            • About 800 students are enrolled at the main campus, and about half of them commute.
            • Online courses help make it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as 24 months and a master’s degree in 12-18 months.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts

            See What’s Possible When You Earn a Degree at Florida Tech 100% Online

            Whatever your motivation for considering an undergraduate or graduate degree, Florida Tech offers programs online that can meet your needs. Here are a few reasons Florida Tech may be the right choice for you.

            • Online Courses
            Liberal Arts (BA)
            • Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly® School by Victory Media, publishers of G.I. Jobs®.
            • Each program is designed to instill the knowledge, ethical values, and interpersonal skills of professional practice and to foster values of social responsibility.
            • Offers several flexible learning options, including a blended format that combines campus and online learning.
            • Several scholarship opportunities are available for students who qualify.
            • Features a competency-based MBA program that allows students to test out of subjects based on prior professional experience.
            Show more [+]
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Counseling (Certificate) - Online
            • For the 12th consecutive year, Cal U was named one for the best schools in the Northeast by The Princeton Review 
            • Recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for: Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s 2017, Best Online Programs, Grad Education 2017 and Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s for Veterans 2017
            • Quality Online courses at Cal U have the same objectives, content and learning outcomes as campus-based programs and are taught by the same expert professors.
            • Offers private school amenities at a public school cost. Student-to-teacher ratio of 20:1
            • CAL U online programs complete an annual assessment of student learning to ensure outcomes are focused on your success in career entry, advancement or enhancement!
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            BS in Liberal Studies - Professional Studies Track

            Founded by the Society of Jesus in 1851, Saint Joseph's University (SJU) has been developing the minds and abilities of men and women in a challenging academic environment steeped in the enriching Jesuit tradition of cura personalis (care of the entire person). The strong liberal arts foundation promotes an environment of open-minded investigation and debate and attends to developing students beyond their academic accomplishments, while maintaining high academic standards. The University strives to be recognized as the preeminent Catholic comprehensive university in the Northeast.

            • Online Courses
            Master of Arts in Special Education

            Saint Mary's University of Minnesota's Online Master's Programs

            At Saint Mary's, we take pride in offering online graduate degrees designed to complement the schedules of working adults like you. Get an affordable, convenient education from a top-ranked university that's grounded in real-world applications.

            Saint Mary's University's long history of innovation in education continues with the launch of our new iPad® application, allowing for learning on the go. Our commitment to our Lasallian Catholic tradition of continuous learning, ethics and advancing the common good also endures.

            • Online Courses