Frequently Asked Questions

When did CES begin and where does the name come from?
Columbia Evangelical Seminary began in April, 1991, as Faraston Theological Seminary. In January 1998, the Board of Regents changed the name to Columbia Evangelical Seminary. Columbia identifies us geographically as the Columbia River runs through Washington State near the original home of the school. Evangelical refers to traditional Christian orthodox doctrine and Seminary refers to a theological school.
When can I enroll?
CES has continuous enrollment. This means that students may enroll at any time throughout the year. Please visit the admissions link for required forms.

When will I graduate?
Students graduate immediately upon completion of their degree requirements. Since we are a distance learning school, we do not have a specific graduation date scheduled each year. Most traditional schools have a graduation ceremony that students go through in June (or thereabouts). CES, however, does not do that. You graduate the day your final class is completed and graded.

Does CES conduct graduation ceremonies?
Because our program is distance learning, we have students scattered all throughout the U.S. and other parts of the world. Most students have not been able to attend a yearly ceremony due to work or family responsibilities. So, rather than have a yearly graduation ceremony, CES now has a graduation/dinner every five years (or so). At this event, anyone who has ever graduated from CES, and anyone who is presently a student, may attend the ceremony. Even those who have graduated and attended an earlier ceremony may come back and go through the ceremony again for the fun and fellowship.

Also, since CES holds it graduation ceremony only once every five years, students may have their own private graduation ceremony at any time, except during those years with a formal graduation ceremony planned. On multiple occasions throughout the years, CES graduates (some bringing family and friends) have come to Washington State for private graduation ceremonies. We've had CES graduates travel from as far away as Arizona, Georgia, and Florida to have their own personalized graduation. Students wishing to do this must make prior arrangements with CES.

Do you have audio files that I will listen to for my classes?
The majority of CES classes are research classes. Rather than simply listening to some audio lectures and filling out a lesson plan or study guide, students conduct research. This means that students will read and research their topic, and then they will write an academic research term paper for the class. The Writing Protocols class is a series of audio lectures and tests, and CES requires all students to pass the class before writing research papers. Currently, CES does have the option for undergraduate students to take a few specific undergraduate courses as audio lectures and accompanying tests. Please visit the course listings for further details.

What kind of academic writing will be required for CES?
CES established a set of rules that all students are to follow in their academic writing, and to help all of the students with these requirements, CES requires completion of a specific class developed to help them thoroughly understand the required writing protocols. This class is available online with no charge for the class materials. There are two options:

1) Take the class for credit.
This is the best method and students will gain the most information and learning from this option.

2) Audit it. Students writing theses and dissertations may take this class as an audit. In this case, they will still list the class on their Learning Contracts, but they will list it as an audited class. There is a flat fee of $100 to audit this class.

Is CES accredited?
No, CES is not accredited. According to Dr. John Bear "...there are schools which, by their very nature, are academically sound, legitimately and sincerely run, appropriately licensed, but unlikely ever to gain 'traditional' accreditation because of the innovative or experimental or non-traditional nature of their programs...In evaluating an unaccredited school, the two crucial questions that must be asked are these: 1) who are the people behind it (and what are their credentials)? and 2) what is the quality of work being asked of, and done by, the students?" John B. Bear, Ph.D. (Diploma mill consultant to FBI, 1979-1992), author of, Bears' Guide to Earning College Degrees Nontraditionally (more than 300,000 in print). You can find more details on the About CES page.

Is CES a denominational seminary?
CES is non-denominational. CES is a conservative evangelical school.

What is the basic theology of CES?
CES holds to the fundamentals of the historical Christian faith. Please refer to the linked statement of beliefs on the website.

What CES professors will I be working with in my program of study?
Each student has one primary mentor (professor) with whom he or she will work throughout the degree program. Students select the faculty mentor that they want to work with. At the time of enrollment, the student selects and submits a list of names from the faculty list (in the order of his/her preference) that he or she would like to work with. CES confirms current availability with those mentors in the order listed to see if one of them is available to serve as that student's mentor. If so, CES provides the student the professor's phone number and/or email, and then the student contacts the professor and discusses his or her educational goals. The student and the mentor together determine if they want to work together. If for some reason the student or the professor does not feel that this is a good match, CES proceed through the student's list until an appropriate academic partnership is found.

Do I have to select my primary mentor from the CES faculty?
Not necessarily. One primary asset of CES's programs of study is that not only may students select mentors from our faculty, but they may also bring mentors to their programs of study. Therefore, students may select pastors or educators from their own denominations or fellowships, and they may also build their curricula specifically to study the beliefs taught by their own denominations or fellowships. This is especially important for the person who desires to become a full-time minister with a particular church. The outside mentor must meet and agree with the confessional, educational, and professional standards of Columbia Evangelical Seminary.

What exactly is required for each class?
There is a basic answer to this question, and then a creative one. First, the basic: Each 4-credit class requires a certain amount of research and writing. Some students simply do those two learning activities, i.e., 1) research a topic and 2) write an academic term paper on that topic. The reading and writing requirements are linked off of the main website. Second, the creative: While there will always be a certain amount of reading and research required for each class, students may be more creative in their final product than simply writing an academic term paper for each class. For example, one of our students was completing a degree in apologetics. Rather than doing the two-pronged learning activity of "research and writing," he did all of his reading and research and then he engaged a non-Christian philosophy professor at another college in a public debate. Then, rather than handing in an academic term paper on a certain topic of apologetics, he handed in his debate notes along with a video of the public debate, which CES faculty evaluated for his final class grade. Another student, who was an associate pastor, did his research and reading in an area of Christian history, and rather than handing in an academic term paper, he gave a series of lectures to his church on the topic of church history. Then, he handed in his lecture notes and a video of the lectures for grading. Other students have pursued creative options such as leading short-term missions trips, producing a television show that aired on a Christian television program, developing a study guide and text for future use in teaching, or teaching the topic under study at a college or adult study group.

Does CES require students to spend time on campus?
No. CES is based upon the mentorship aspect of true academic research, which does not require students to spend time on the campus. Students conduct their research and then send their final research product for that class to the faculty mentor for evaluation.

How do I know what to read and produce for my classes?
With the supervision of their mentors, students create their syllabi to meet their own specific needs. Working with their mentor, they select the appropriate texts to be read and researched, and then they determine what the final product will be for each class (e.g., an academic term paper or something more creative). CES supplies some "sample syllabi" so the student has a framework and a prototype to follow when building their own syllabi for their classes. The faculty mentor reviews each syllabus for academic appropriateness.

How many credits can I transfer into a CES degree program?
Students may transfer all but the final 24 semester hours into their degree programs (as long as the schools and credits are acceptable by CES standards and the credits have not been used toward another diploma, degree, or certificate). The final 24 semester hours must be done with CES.

Can I get credit for ministry experience?
Yes, for undergraduate (associate and bachelor's level): Up to six semester hours of credit may be granted for each year of full-time ministry. The maximum limit is 64, and those ministry experience credits cannot be part of the final 24 credits that a student must complete at CES.

Yes, for master's level: For those who already have an undergraduate degree, up to four semester hours of credit may be granted for each year of full-time ministry. The maximum limit is 32, and those ministry experience credits cannot be part of the final 24 credits.

No, for the doctoral level. However, there is Product Assessment. While no ministry-experience credits are given at the doctoral level, there is Product Assessment, which is applicable to all degree levels, including the doctoral level.

What is Product Assessment?
Product Assessment is the assessing of professional work done by the student for possible credit. For example, if the student has a professionally published book, or if the student has published theologically astute articles in professional journals or magazines, or if the student has done a series of professionally produced lectures for college-level classes and are verifiable as school curricula, CES will evaluate and assess these professionally produced products for credit evaluation. Product Assessment credits are under the same tuition policies as regular credits.

Is there a cost for ministry credits?
Yes. The cost of Ministry-Experience-Credit is non-refundable. It is the fee for the administrative time expended to convert the Ministry-Experience into acceptable credits and is not to be confused with regular tuition fees. The fee for these credits is the same as normal tuition rates and is applied to the student's overall tuition costs.
Students may receive a 40% cost reduction for the Ministry-Experience-Credits (or any part thereof) if they pay for those credits in full at the time of enrollment, along with their initial tuition payment.
Note: Students using ministry-credits for deficit entrance into doctoral programs must pay (with the 40% cost reduction) for all of those credits at the time of enrollment.

How long do I have to complete a degree program?
CES allows more time to complete degrees than traditional schools do. Students are allowed one month for each credit in their program, with a maximum limit of six years for any program. For example, the M.T.S. is a 48-credit program, thus, the enrolled M.T.S. student has 48 months (4 years) to complete it. At this rate, it is typical that if a student completes at least three classes per year, he/she will be done on time. However, students may proceed at their own pace and may complete their programs in less time if they desire.

What if I go beyond the due date for my particular degree program?
If students do not complete their degree programs within the set time limits, they may send a written request to the Seminary asking for a time extension for the degree program. This extension must be approved by the Seminary. Each extension is for three months, and the first quarterly fee is $175. Extension fees increase by $25 for each extension beyond the first one (i.e., $175, $200, $225, $250, etc.).

Does CES supply my text books or do I buy them myself?
CES does not supply materials, including text books. All students are required to purchase their own learning materials from their preferred suppliers.

Can I use audio, video, DVD, or Live lectures in my classes?
Yes. Students may know of a set of lectures on audio, video, DVDs, CDs, MP3s or even at live seminars that they wish to incorporate into their classes. There are many acceptable academic lectures that students may use as part of their classes. These will fulfill the General Reading Requirements. Students will still need to produce an acceptable final research product for evaluation. CES has established this chart of conversion:
-Freshman & Sophomore:
1 hour of listening = 50 pages of reading
-Senior & Junior:
1 hour of listening = 40 pages of reading
1 hour of listening = 30 pages of reading
1 hour of listening = 20 pages of reading

What are the methods of tuition payment?
See our the Tuition and Fees section of this site.

What is the first step I need to take to find out where I stand with CES?
The first step-which does not oblige you as a student-is to fill out and mail in the application and evaluation form. Once we have received this from you, we will assess your application and your standing with regard to the degree that you wish to enroll in, and we will let you know exactly where you stand, what the costs will be and so on. At that time you can then make an informed decision if you want to enroll or not. There is an application fee that must be paid before the application is processed. Details can be found in the Admissions & Enrollment section of the website.

What are the basic steps to become a student and graduate from CES
Step 1: Application: Application is not the same thing as enrollment. Complete the no-obligation Application and Evaluation Form. Mail it along with the non-refundable application fee to CES. Within four weeks (or sooner) you will receive notice indicating whether you are accepted and the degree level for which you qualify. After you receiving notification of your acceptance, your opportunity to enroll will be held open for two months, unless otherwise negotiated (which may be done by email or by phone).

Step 2: Enrollment: Enrollment (also called matriculation) takes effect when you pay your initial tuition payment.

Step 3: Mentor: You will select a mentor from our faculty, unless you have already chosen a person outside our faculty (providing the person you choose is accepted by CES).

Step 4: The Learning Contract (LC): You will (with a seminary representative as guide) develop a Learning Contract. In your LC, you will list the courses that you have selected for your program. The LC should also describe the thesis or dissertation if you intend to do one. (See the sample Learning Contract on this site.)

Step 5: Complete the courses listed in your LC: You will submit all of your course work to your mentor who in turn reports your final grades to the Seminary.

Step 6: Thesis or Dissertation: Not all degree programs require a thesis (for undergraduate and master's students) or dissertation (for doctoral students). The professional degree programs require only that you complete classes. However, for research degrees, a thesis or dissertation is required. You will prepare a proposal. Once your mentor and the Seminary have approved your proposal, you may begin writing your thesis or dissertation. While it is typical for the thesis or dissertation to be the last thing a student does for the degree, it can be started earlier as long as the mentor and Seminary approve. The details regarding which programs require a thesis or dissertation can be found in the program descriptions page on the website.