Quick Facts & FAQs
- Our average class size is 25-30 students.
- Our full-time faculty to full-time student ratio is 1:12
- Approximately 160 students are enrolled in Westminster Seminary California. Our full-time student body is approximately 140.
- Aproximately 70% of our students are enrolled in the Master of Divinity [M.Div]. program; the other 30% are divided between our three M.A. programs in Biblical Studies, Historical Theology, and Theological Studies.
- The WSC student community represents over 50 denominations, over 45 states, and numerous countries around the world
- Since 1980, WSC has graduated over 900 men and women
- WSC alumni are serving Christ and His Church in several foreign countries including China, Singapore, Korea, Spain, Germany, England, Nigeria, Malawi, and South Africa.
- WSC has 13 full-time faculty members
- Our full-time faculty consists primarily of ordained ministers from Presbyterian and Reformed denominations (PCA, OPC, URCNA) who have earned doctoral degrees
- All WSC faculty members subscribe to the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Three Forms of Unity (Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dordt)
- Resting in the inland valley of North San Diego County in the city of Escondido (population aprox. 150,000), the campus of Westminster Seminary California is just minutes from the ocean, desert, and mountain regions of Southern California. North San Diego County is an ethnically diverse region near Mexico and accessible to the Asian nations of the Pacific Rim. The student body reflects the ethnic diversity of the region and of the church throughout the world.
- Escondido is aproximately 30 miles north of downtown San Diego and 100 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is distinctive about WSC as an institution?
- What is distinctive about the theological commitments of WSC?
- What is distinctive about the educational philosophy of WSC?
- Is WSC affiliated with a church denomination?
- I am not a member of a Presbyterian or Reformed Church. Can I attend WSC?
- What is the relationship between Westminster Seminary California and Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia?
- What is WSC’s library like?
- What is the faculty-student ratio?
- How does its location in Escondido benefit WSC?
- How does WSC prepare people for missions?
- Is the M.Div. program open to men and women?
- What can a woman do with a master’s degree from WSC?
- How many of your M.Div. graduates are currently in the pastorate?
- Will WSC prepare me for a Ph.D. program?
- What degree programs do you offer?
- Which is more important in WSC’s M.Div. program, academics or practical training?
- How much does WSC cost?
- What scholarships/financial aid does WSC offer?
- What if I graduated from an unaccredited undergraduate institution?
- I don't have a bachelor's degree. Can I still start a study program at WSC?
Westminster Seminary California provides a unique opportunity to study with an outstanding faculty, made up of pastor-scholars, united in its commitment to Christ and his Gospel as recorded in the Scriptures and expressed in our historic Reformed confessions of faith. Consider a few things that make WSC a special place to receive a theological education:
- Our full-time faculty consists primarily of ordained ministers in Presbyterian or Reformed denominations who hold earned doctorate degrees from respected universities in their particular fields of study
- Our rigorous theological education, at the heart of which is the study of the Scriptures in their original languages within the context of our confessional protestant faith.
- Our diverse student body from over 50 denominations, 40 states and numerous countries ensures an atmosphere of challenging and stimulating discussions about theology and ministry.
- Our 12:1 student to faculty ratio allows for accessibility and a high level of interaction with renowned faculty members, both in and out of the classroom setting.
- Our beautiful ten acre campus in suburban San Diego County provides a great setting to study in community with other believers.
- For more information, see WSC Distinctives >>
Westminster Seminary California has several theological distinctives that set it apart from other seminaries:
- Commitment to the innerency and infallibility of the Scriptures
- Subscription to the system of doctrine contained in the Reformed Confessions of Faith
- An understanding of Covenant Theology as the most coherent structure and explanation of Biblical revelation
- Emphasis on Biblical Theology in the tradition of Geerhardus Vos with a focus on a Christ-Centered and Redemptive-Historical approach to teaching and preaching the Scriptures
- Committment to presuppositional apologetics in the tradition of Cornelius Van Til
- Appreciation of the history of the church and development of doctrine throughout the catholic (i.e. universal) and Reformed tradition that informs our theology and practice
Westminster Seminary California is committed to offering a traditional in-residence "face-to-face" theological education with an emphasis on sound instruction and personal interaction with pastor-scholars. WSC is committed to:
- Offering a quality faculty of pastors and scholars who are both ordained ministers and well-trained academics (PhD)in their specific fields of study
- Maintaining adequate class sizes and a low faculty-to-student ratio ensures that allows students to develop formative relationships with our faculty
- Providing a well-rounded and rigorous academic curriculum that provides students with the tools they need in the various theological disciplines (Biblical Studies, Theological Studies, Historical Theology, and Practical Theology) to teach the scriptures and properly minister the Word of God
- Training specialists in the Bible through an extensive use of the original Hebrew and Greek texts throughout the academic curriculum
- Maintaining a balance between our academic curriculum and the necessity of practical experience through an extensive M.Div. field education program
- Recognizing the value of the accreditation process both as a means of institutional self-evaluation and self improvement and as a means of external attestation of educational quality to students, constituency, and other academic institutions
WSC is a multi-denominational seminary in the historic Reformed tradition. We are not officially affiliated with one particular denomination. Our graduates serve in a variety of Presbyterian and Reformed denominations, including the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), the United Reformed Churches in North America (URCNA), the Korean-American Presbyterian Church (KAPC), and in nearly 50 other denominations.
Yes. Though the faculty and board of trustees at WSC are committed to the Reformed faith and practice as set forth in the Westminster Standards and Three Forms of Unity, we welcome students from a variety of denominational backgrounds and affiliations who may not agree with all of the theological positions held by our faculty. All applicants are required to provide evidence of a true profession of faith and hold membership (or the equivalent) in a local Evangelical or Protestant church.
What is the relationship between Westminster Seminary California and Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia?
Westminster Seminary California was planted by Westminster Philadelphia in 1979, at the request and provision of many local Reformed and Presbyterian churches who desired to have a reformed seminary on the west coast. Much like a church plant, WSC existed under the oversight and direction of WTS until 1982 when it demonstrated the ability to be a self-governing and self-supporting institution. Though both institutions maintain a firm commitment to the reformed understanding of Scripture, our distinct identities allow both WSC and WTS to maintain distinct services to Christ’s church.
Our Library houses over 120,000 titles. Through membership in the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium, the Library affords unlimited online searching of OCLC’s large book database along with nearly seventy other discipline-specific periodical databases through OCLC’s FirstSearch service (thirty-nine of these databases contain full-text documents that can be read online or printed). The Library also has online access to the premier religion and theological periodical database, ATLA, the full-text religion database in Proquest, indexing and abstracting of religion periodicals in Religious and Theological Abstracts, and the full text of seminal works from the Reformation and Post-Reformation eras through the Digital Library of Classical Protestant Texts.
Our faculty members are very accessible to students. We maintain an overall ratio of faculty to students of 1:12, and the faculty consider themselves to be mentors to students. Our faculty take seriously both their tasks of instructing students in the formal classroom setting and of mentoring and advising outside the classroom.
Our location in Escondido, California is excellent in climate, academic access and church/missions opportunities. The San Diego area has access to several major universities and research libraries. Southern California also has a strong Asian and Latin American presence. We are 50 miles from Mexico and accessible to the Pacific Rim, which gives our interns extensive opportunities in multicultural mission work.
WSC is committed to preparing men and women to serve in every part of the world. The purpose of our education is to prepare men and women for the propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, whether in domestic or foreign settings. Our graduates serve in Africa, Europe, South and Central America, as well as in North America. WSC gives students the tools they need to minister in general cross-cultural settings. Our students who go into the mission field typically do so under the auspice of a missionary organization or a denominational committee. These organizations normally provide the specific cultural, social and language training needed to adapt to the particular environment in which the graduate plans to minister.
The purpose of our Master of Divinity program is to educate and form men for official, ordained ministries of instruction and leadership in the church as pastors, evangelists, and teachers. Because the seminary board and faculty believes the criteria set down in Scripture limits the candidacy for official teaching and leadership ministry in the church to qualified men, we admit only men to our Master of Divinity program.
However, because God bestows on women as well as men gifts and calling to serve in non-ordained ministries, WSC’s Master of Arts programs admit both women and men.
Our female graduates have used their WSC degrees to give them biblical and theological foundations for pursuing law and Ph.D. degrees, missions work in a variety of capacities, and teaching at primary, secondary and college levels. For others, the benefits have enriched their service in the local church, prepared them to lead Bible studies and women’s ministries, and to be better equipped to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
The placement rate for WSC M.Div. students is high – around 90%. More than 600 M.Div. graduates have been trained from 45 states and over 25 countries. WSC graduates are ministering in over 50 denominations, and over 50 WSC graduates are serving in foreign countries.
WSC has excellent placement into a variety of Ph.D. programs from both the M.Div. and M.A. programs. WSC alumni have been accepted into prestigious programs such as Oxford University, Harvard University, the University of St. Andrews, the University of Virginia and the University of Arizona. WSC’s rigorous academic standards and emphasis in biblical languages give its graduates the skills to excel in Ph.D. programs.
WSC offers the Master of Divinity degree and three Master of Arts degrees: Biblical Studies, Theological Studies, Historical Theology. Please visit our Degrees & Programs page for more information.
At WSC, academics are not seen as being in opposition to practical ministry. We believe that faithfully expositing the Word, administering the sacraments and providing oversight to God’s flock are among the most practical activities in which one may engage. Serious academic training is necessary to prepare students to be able defenders of the faith who can engage in the daily issues of the pastorate from a firmly grounded biblical foundation. At the same time, serious care is given to providing our students with opportunities for practical experience so they go in to the pastorate prepared to work with real people.
For the 2012-13 academic year, courses are $381 per credit unit – about $13,335 per year for a full-time student, before any financial aid is applied. Please see our Financial Information & Payment Schedules page for more details.
WSC offers a variety of financial aid options to students enrolled on a full-time basis (taking at least 12 units per semester), including needs-based grants and awards, merit scholarships, the Church Matching Grants, specialized ministry scholarships, and federal student loans. Typical financial aid packages (scholarships and grants) fall betweeen 20-40% tuition. For more information, see Financial Aid
Westminster Seminary California has long recognized the value of the accreditation process both as a means of institutional self-evaluation and self improvement and as a means of external attestation of educational quality to students, constituency, and other academic institutions. WSC also recognizes that for various reasons (recent founding of an institution, location in a nation lacking accreditation processes, reservations about the accreditation process) certain institutions may lack accreditation by a recognized association and yet maintain academic standards comparable to those found in accredited institutions. Since such institutions cannot offer reliable third-party evaluation and attestation to their academic standards, Westminster Seminary California exercises caution in evaluating applications and/or requests for transfer credit from graduates of such institutions. Graduates of unaccredited institutions are admitted under probationary status.
In order to evaluate whether a degree from an unaccredited institution meets the standards required for admission, applicants must submit the following, in addition to general admission requirements:
- A catalogue of the unaccredited institution granting the student’s degree
- If the institution is in the United States, a copy of the document attesting authorization to grant degrees by the State Board of Education. Such authorization is not equivalent to accreditation in the evaluation of adherence to accepted academic standards, but it does show that the institution has offered evidence of its educational purpose and financial responsibility
- A document which provides details regarding the institutions from which the current faculty of the institution received their graduate/advanced degrees, and identifying which faculty members are full-time (if not clearly stated in the catalogue)
- A list of accredited institutions that have admitted graduates of the unaccredited institution and/or accepted its courses for transfer credit
- Two examples of assigned course work submitted to the institution.
In extraordinary cases, a student whose gifts for pastoral ministry have been strongly confirmed by the church but who has not completed an approved Bachelor’s degree program may apply for admission to the M.Div. program as a Special Student. Because the Seminary strongly believes that an undergraduate Bachelor’s degree program in the liberal arts and sciences is the preferred preparation for graduate theological study, only a limited number of Special Students may be admitted in any one year. To more clearly evaluate the Special Student application file, Westminster Seminary California has designated specific criteria regarding the applicant’s academic history, ministry and employment experience, and standardized examination results.
Do you have additional questions? Please contact the Office of Admissions:
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By phone: 888/480.8474 (8am-4:30pm PST)