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What’s the idea behind the Reading and Tutorial Program?

The Reading and Tutorial Program was designed to help people prepare for ordained ministry in the Anglican church.  Specifically, it is intended to provide an option for those people who, because of family and career responsibilities or geographical distance, are not able to attend a full-time residential seminary program for several years.

The Reading and Tutorial Course gives them the opportunity to learn the basic academic disciplines through distance education, parallel to their work and family obligations.  Note that the course does not include practical training in ministry; if used to prepare for ordination, it is meant to be completed by the 8 month residential In-Ministry Year offered at the College.

Will my diocese accept the Reading and Tutorial Program as preparation for ordination?

If you are a candidate for ordained ministry, you will need the approval of your diocesan discernment committee or  your bishop in choosing a course of study.  Some dioceses know and support the Reading and Tutorial Program; others may insist on a seminary M.Div.  as a prerequisite for ordination.  In any case, a residential seminary program is always preferable, if it is at all practically possible for you.

Increasingly, some dioceses are using the Reading and Tutorial Program, or portions of it, as training for vocation deacons.

I’m not interested in ordination (or I’m not sure). Can I still take the course?

Yes, many people take the course to deepen their understanding of the Bible and the Christian tradition, without intending to be ordained.  It may also be a first step in seeing what is involved in theological study, as part of a process of discernment.

How does it work?

The program consists of 12 units, which are introductory courses in the basis disciplines of academic theology.

The units are done one at a time, at your own pace. You will be asked to read an introductory book in the field, and to journal your learnings and thoughts.  On the basis of this reading you will write a series of short papers on specific questions and submit them to the College for marking.  You will meet with your tutor, a theologically trained person from your community, several times over the course of each unit to discuss the material, ask questions, and receive guidance in how to approach the assignments.

What is covered in the program?

The twelve units give an introduction to the standard academic disciplines that belong to theological study:

  1. Old Testament Introduction
  2. New Testament Introduction
  3. Church History to 1500
  4. Liturgy
  5. World Religions
  6. Systematic Theology
  7. Church History after 1500
  8. Philosophy of Religion
  9. Ethics
  10. Major Theologians
  11. Old Testament Theology
  12. New Testament Theology

How long will it take?

Since you are working at your own pace, it is up to you how long it takes.  The College assigns a deadline of six months per unit, in order to keep you moving.  This can be extended upon request for good reason; otherwise there is a late fee if you take longer.  At six months per unit, it would take you six years to complete the program, but if the model works for you, you should be able to finish units more quickly than this, particularly with later units as you get used to the method and develop appropriate work habits.  Dedicated and motivated students can usually complete the program in three or four years.

What kind of commitment will I have to give to it?

It should be said clearly: completing the program requires a great deal of discipline and hard work.  Because you are on your own, without a weekly class or deadline to keep you on track, you will only be able to progress if you force yourself to work efficiently to get the assignments done.

As you will be doing it alongside other commitments (work, family, church) you will need to reserve a certain amount of time regularly (two hours a day, perhaps) in which you can work intentionally.  The danger is that everything else in your life will simply crowd it out.  Many students who begin the program bog down fairly quickly.  It is not for everyone; you may find that you need a more structured course of study to make the progress you hope for.

What will I get when I finish it?

Students who complete the Reading and Tutorial Program alone receive a “Certificate in Theological Education” from the College.  Those who complete the Reading and Tutorial and the In-Ministry Year receive a Licentiate in Theology and a Diploma in Ministry.  These are all awarded at the College Convocation in early May.

How does it compare to a seminary B.Th. or M.Div.?

The Reading and Tutorial Program is clearly not the equivalent of an M.Div. degree.  You will be missing the classroom experience: conversations with fellow students with different points of view, the teaching of gifted professors, the encouragement and inspiration of a learning community.  The material will be covered in a more rudimentary fashion.  In terms of what is covered, however, we strive to keep as close as possible to a B.Th. style curriculum.

What does it cost?

Each unit has a fee of $200, payable when you begin the unit.  In addition, there is an initial one-time registration fee of $200 when you begin the program.  You should budget an additional $100 – $150 for books for each unit.

Can I bring credits for other courses into the Reading and Tutorial Program?

If you have already completed courses at any seminary, you can apply to have these credited toward the Reading and Tutorial Program.  We look to see whether they cover the same ground as any of the Reading and Tutorial units.  If they are equivalent, we will grant you an exemption for that unit of the program.

In addition, you may take other courses once you have begun the Reading and Tutorial Program.  In fact, we would strongly encourage you to do so.  If there is a seminary or university in your area, we would encourage you to take some courses there to be credited toward the Reading and Tutorial.  It will give you the experience of being in the classroom, and help you to get some of the units behind you in a scheduled manner.  Again, we would have to approve the individual courses in advance, to be sure that they correspond to the contents of the Reading and Tutorial Course.  In total, you may credit up to 6 external courses toward Reading and Tutorial units.

Can I transfer Reading and Tutorial credits to other programs?

That will depend on the institution you are bringing your Reading and Tutorial units to for credit.  In general, you should not expect that you will receive credits toward a degree, as the Reading and Tutorial course is not a degree program.

How do I find a tutor?

It is the responsibility of the College to appoint a tutor.  In practice, however, outside of the Montreal area, we need to rely on local knowledge to find a tutor.  We will ask for suggestions from you and from your diocese or rector.  Required is someone with a M.Div. degree or higher; it may be a local clergy person (or your own or another denomination), or a theologically educated layperson (a professor of theology, for example).

Keep in mind, however, that it is important that your tutor have time to meet with you regularly.  Retired clergy often make good tutors, if they are eager to revisit their theological studies.

If your application to the program is accepted, we will be in contact with you about finding a tutor for you.

How do I apply?

If you are interested, please contact the College by email or by phone at 514-849-3004.

We will mail to you an inquirer’s package with more information on the program and an application form.

If you have questions or would like to discuss whether the program is for you, please call the Principal Dr. John Simons, at the above number.