The Vita Scholars Program is an accelerated 5-year pastoral degree program at Hope College and Western Theological Seminary. Students can earn a B.A. and M.Div. in five years.
By finishing their undergraduate and master’s programs in just five years, Vita Scholars save both time and money compared to a typical seven-year preparation for ministry.
The Vita Scholars Program will help students become pastors who:
- Have imaginations inspired by the gift of Jesus Christ to the whole cosmos
- See the beauty of God’s work and of God’s people at work in different geographic contexts
- Embrace ministries that serve people and churches in rural settings or in inner-city locations
- Value and understand the work that takes place in these different contexts
- Have a biblical vision of vocation and work
- Develop the skills to engage the contemporary economic, political and cultural realities in light of the gospel
- Cohort-Based Learning
Participation in cohort-based learning through ongoing co-curricular programming is overseen by a program director and structured around themes of faith, worship, calling, work and the life of the world.
- Participants will learn how the Holy Spirit conforms human beings to Christ through multiple kinds of worship practices
- Students will gain a sense of how to express the unity of Scripture in Christ and how the history of the church fits into that story
- Faculty mentors guide students through historic and contemporary readings on work and economics to help them develop biblical and theological frameworks for both human work and societal flourishing
- Includes participation for part of one academic year at events (lectures, film screenings and colloquia) sponsored by Markets & Morality, a Hope College initiative
- Hear “work stories” from Christians across a range of positions, including reflections on ways their churches and pastors supported them in their work and ways they failed to understand and support them in their working lives
- Summer Work Experiences
- Completing two summer work experiences in non-religious/ministry setting will give students the opportunity to encounter
workplaces different than those they may have known through their families of origin
and to enter into a better appreciation of the working lives of people in their future
congregations. For some students, this may mean working in a professional setting.
For other students, it may mean a job in a factory or on a farm.
Students will coordinate with the Boerigter Center for Calling and Career at Hope College to arrange paid summer work experiences during their second and third years of the program.
- Church-Based Internships
- For their required church internships, students will work with the internship coordinator at Western Theological Seminary to find church placements for two part-time year-long internships or one part-time year-long internship and full-time summer internship. At least one internship will take place in a church in a rural or inner-city context. Ideally the ministry in which students are placed will be in a geographic setting they have not before experienced. Internships will take place during the fourth and fifth years of the program.
- Course of Study
- Program participants will acquire a B.A. in religion at Hope College, taking introductory and upper-level courses in biblical studies,
church history and theology. Participants will receive their M.Div. from Western Theological Seminary, taking courses in biblical studies, church history,
theology and ministry.
Vita Scholars Program
Western Theological Seminary
616.392.8555, ext. 168