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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Certificate In Ministry (CIM)?

The Certificate in Ministry is a program for church leaders and others seeking substantive theological education but who are not planning to pursue study in a degree program. Seven courses are required to complete the certificate program.

Who would benefit from completing the CIM?

Anyone who seeks theological preparation for church leadership or wishes to enrich his/her personal theological understanding will be well-served by the CIM program. In particular, the CIM may meet requirements for Commissioned Ruling Elders in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and for leadership in other Christian traditions.

What are the courses offered?

Required courses:

  • Church History (online)
  • Reading the Bible Theologically (online)
  • Worship and Preaching (online with some on campus instruction)
  • Christian Education (online with some on campus instruction)
  • Pastoral Care and Leadership (online)
  • Ministry Foundations in Bible and Theology (online)


Electives include:

  • PC(USA) Polity (online)
  • Comparative Religion (online)
  • Introducing Christian Ethics (online)
  • Effective Church Leadership
  • Additional courses are in development

Who teaches the courses?

CIM courses are taught by Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary faculty and staff members.

How are the courses administered?

The majority of courses are taught online. Two courses (Christian Education and Worship and Preaching) are blended courses, which require one weekend of on-campus instruction in addition to the online components. Courses are self-paced with assignments and schedules set by each instructor. Course materials are available online to students 24/7.


Typical courses will include video lectures, online discussion, written papers, and responses to readings. Courses are presented in an asynchronous manner, meaning they do not require simultaneous participation of students and the instructor.

What are blended courses?

Two blended courses are offered in the CIM program. These courses are administered primarily online but also include a weekend of on-campus, in-person instruction. Housing, parking, and meals are included in the fees for blended courses. Students are responsible for making travel arrangements.

How will faculty be available for questions?

Instructors are available by appointment or by email.

What materials are necessary for the courses?

CIM courses will utilize as many digital resources as possible. Some courses may require the purchase of traditional books. Each instructor will provide a list of required materials to registrants.

How will the courses be graded?

All CIM courses are credit/non-credit.

How many courses can a student be enrolled in simultaneously?

Two courses are offered in each 10-week session (three sessions per year). Students may enroll in one or both courses per session.

Will CIM students be assigned academic advisors?

Yes, the Associate Dean of Ministerial Formation and Advanced Studies will serve as the academic advisor for all CIM students.

What is the application process?

Interested applicants may apply online. Prospective students will be required to submit to a background check and interview with admissions staff. Students completing the CIM for Commissioned Ruling Elder requirements must provide a letter of endorsement from their Presbytery. Other students are required to submit a letter of reference, which may come from a governing body in their tradition, or from a pastor, elder or deacon, employer, or friend.

What are the prerequisites for taking courses?

There are no prerequisites. Applicants are not required to submit transcripts and there is no minimum GPA requirement.

When are the deadlines for admissions application?

Deadlines for admissions application are:

Winter 2017: November 4, 2016

Spring 2017: February 10, 2017

When do courses begin:

Winter 2017 – January 2 – March 10

When do courses begin?

All CIM courses are 10 weeks.

Winter 2016 course dates are January 4 – March 11

Spring 2017 course dates are March 28 – June 3

Are CIM students eligible to take degree-level courses?

No, students admitted into the CIM program are not eligible to enroll in master’s-level courses. Students wishing to take master’s-level courses must apply to master’s-level degree programs or apply as a Special Student.

What is the cost of CIM courses?

Each CIM course is $370. There is a $25 one-time admissions application fee due at the time of submission. There is also a one-time fee (approximately $36) for the background check. All payments of fees and tuition will be made online.

Will financial aid be offered?

Scholarships, financial aid, and direct aid are not offered for CIM students.

Is there a time limit to complete the certificate program?

Yes, the certificate program must be completed within four years. Students may not miss more than two consecutive terms and remain in the CIM program. Students who miss more than two consecutive terms may reapply to the CIM program.

Is it required to take every course in order to be enrolled in the program?

No. Students may enroll in as many or as few CIM courses as desired and in any order. To complete the certificate program, seven courses must be completed (six required courses, one elective). Students may not miss more than two consecutive terms and remain in the CIM program.

Can the courses be taken for CIM credit in conjunction with another certificate or degree program?

Yes, but if a student is enrolled in a certificate or degree program at another institution and wishes to augment that program with a CIM course from Austin Seminary, it is at the discretion of the other institution whether or not to accept the credit.

Can courses from another program count for CIM credit?

If a student wishes to transfer from another certificate program into the Austin Seminary CIM, credit from the previous program may be accepted. In such cases, the student should discuss this with the Office of Ministerial Formation and Advanced Studies. CIM courses are not master’s-level courses and may not be taken to fulfill credit in a degree program.


What technological requirements are needed to access the courses?

CIM courses are primarily taught online through pre-recorded lectures housed in and accessed through the Austin Seminary Student Portal. Technical requirements include:

  • Computer or tablet with internet connectivity capable for streaming video and audio
  • Speakers or audio capabilities
  • Browsers supported: Internet Explorer 7.X+, Firefox 5+, Google Chrome, Safari, any mobile browser
  • Flash or HTML5 capability
  • Word processing software
  • Adobe Acrobat reader

What kind of technical support is available?

Questions regarding accessibility to the portal and course material may be directed to her. Questions regarding student email addresses will be directed to the Seminary IT department at it@austinseminary.edu. Internet connectivity issues need to be directed to students’ internet service providers.

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P: 512-404-4800
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