Frequently Asked Questions

General questions:

Website questions:






Is the Centre for Christian Studies a church?

No, CCS is a theological school. We are affiliated with the United Church of Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada, and we educate people for ministry within and on behalf of church, but we are first and foremost a school.

What is CCS's learning model?

Education at CCS is about experience, integration, and participation. It's also intellectually and academically rigourous, but we try to see the learner as a whole person, an adult who is responsible for his or her own learning. Read more about CCS's learning model.

How many students are in the CCS program?

There are currently about 30 full-time equivalent students in the Diploma or Certificate Program at CCS. As well, each year we have between 25 and 30 people who take part in the 2-week Leadership Development Module.

Is the Diploma Program full time?

Students taking a Theme Year or Integrating Year are considered full-time equivalent students.

How long does it take to complete the Diploma Program?

The Diploma Program is made up of a Leadership Development Module (2 weeks), 3 Theme Years (1 year each), and an Integrating Year (1 year). You also need to take 8 external courses at another educational institution. Some people manage to do all this in 4 years. Most take a reflection year or two somewhere in the process so they can focus on external courses without also trying to deal with Theme Year assignments and field placements at the same time.

Because the 3 Theme Years are offered on a rotating basis, most people who take Reflection Years do so before or after their 3 Theme Years (otherwise you have to wait three years for that particular Theme Year to come around again).

What kind of work do CCS graduates do?

CCS graduates work in a wide variety of ministries, both inside and outside the church. Some of our graduates become diaconal ministers, while others end up ordained to sacramental ministry. Still others live out their faith as lay people. Some graduates focus on pastoral care, or on educational ministry, or on social justice ministry, and some divide the time among these areas. Some of our graduates work as teachers, or as administrators, or in secular occupations which become their ministry.

Isn't a diaconal minister just a minister who is somewhere between vertical or horizontal?

You're thinking of "diagonal". Common mistake. Check out the Diaconal section of our website.

Will there be a job for me when I graduate from CCS?

Well, here's a snapshot of just United Church grads. From 2000-2010 CCS has had 73 UCC grads. Of those…

  • 3 were not commissioned.
  • 53 are currently working in congregational settings – 34 rural solo, 16 urban team, and 3 urban solo.
  • 3 are working in community ministry.
  • 3 are working in First Nations communities.
  • 2 are working in youth ministry.
  • 3 are working as Conference staff.
  • 1 has retired.
  • 1 died.
  • 1 is doing further academic studies.
  • 1 is on disability leave.
  • 2 are currently unemployed.

Will there still be a church by the time I graduate?

Oh, probably. But you're right, the world is changing and the church is changing, and the institution might look different in the future. As we're training students for ministry at CCS we try to pay attention to the church as it currently is, but also to prepare people to serve the future church. So while there may be changes to church structures and governance and policy and pay scales, etc., we believe that the skills of service, justice-seeking, and transformation will always be needed.

Do I have to be a feminist to attend CCS?

The theological stance of CCS is grounded in the quest for justice and human dignity. For many of us, that means taking seriously the challenges posed by feminist and liberation thinkers and theologians. Some people mistakenly think that feminism is about the hatred of men or a belief in the superiority of women. Most feminists, however, are critical of the kind of hierarchical thinking that claims superiority for one group over another.

That's a round-about way of saying, no, you probably don't need to call yourself a feminist, but you will have to wrestle with questions of justice, gender, and equality.

Do I have to be United Church or Anglican to attend CCS?

No. Most of our students are UCC or Anglican, but we have also had students who are Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Unitarian, Mennonite and Metropolitan Community Church . CCS is recognized as school for training diaconal ministers by the United Church of Canada, and as a seminary by the Metropolitan Community Church.

Do I have to be a candidate for ministry in my denomination to attend?

No, it is not necessary to be a recognized candidate for ministry in your denomination to be a student. Generally, inquirers are considering CCS's program because they are in a process of personal and vocational discernment. Some are exploring a sense of call to formal or professional ministry, others are trying to address deep seated longings to explore their faith or expand their skills for lay ministry.

Both the United Church and the Anglican Church have a formal Discernment Process that is the first step towards candidacy for ordered ministry. Some students come to CCS after concluding their discernment process when they and the church are fairly certain about the call to ministry. Others, however, come either before entering the Discernment Process or while in it. Sometimes, the experience of learning at CCS, and that of learning with others exploring a call to diaconal ministry, is a necessary part of discerning vocation. Students understand that the Discernment Process may not confirm a call to Diaconal Ministry. However, when this happens, the value drawn from CCS's program will benefit ministry, whether it is exercised as a lay person or through ordination/priesthood.

I'm past 40 years old and have been out of school for a long time. Will I fit in?

Students at CCS range in age from their early 20's to their 60's. Many of the students in the program are at the "second career" stage of life. This is typical for theological students throughout Canada. Inquirers often express some anxiety about returning to a full time program of study after being out of school or home with children for a number of years. Sometimes students use the Leadership Development Module as a way to test out those anxieties. The LDM can be taken as a Certificate program. If, after completing it, the student realizes that the program is not for them, they can withdraw from the program with no penalty and they will have achieved a Certificate in Leadership Development. A number of students have come hesitantly to the LDM and have been surprised by how much they enjoyed it, how well they fit in and how much ability and passion for learning has been awakened in them.

What level of education/preparation do I need to enter the program?

The Centre's program is taught at a level that is equivalent to a Master of Divinity degree. Applicants must possess an undergraduate degree OR demonstrated equivalent in lived and professional experience. Our programs require a high level of reading, research, and academic rigour. During the admissions process we are looking particularly to see if you can express yourself and your thoughts clearly, if you can think critically and analytically, and if you have a level of self-awareness.

It's not a requirement, but you might want to think about taking at least one theology course (eg. Introduction to Christian Scriptures) prior to starting the CCS program.

I've taken a bunch of theology courses already. Do I have to take more?

Some of your previous courses might be eligible to be counted toward your externals requirement. See the externals page for information about how to apply to have your courses credited.

Where can I take external courses?

We have a list of theological schools and universities recognized by CCS. If you need advice on where to take courses, you can be in conversation with the Principal, Program Staff, as well as other students. Any courses that you wish to have counted toward your externals requirement must be approved by Program Staff prior to your taking the course.

Can I earn credit for a university degree at CCS?

Yes. CCS has a joint-degree arrangement with the University of Winnipeg and St. Stephen's College in Edmonton.

Do I have to move to Winnipeg?

No. Our students come from all across Canada. During Theme Years and Integrating Years students gather as a group in Winnipeg twice a year for Learning Circles in the Fall and Spring. Each Learning Circle is about two weeks long. The rest of the time students work from their home communities, doing course assignments (which are submitted to Program Staff by email) and engaging in Field Placement learning. Students are encouraged/challenged in their learning by their local committees, their learning facilitators, and their vocational mentors. Program Staff check in with students on a regular basis by phone and email.

What's a "Learning Circle"?

CCS believes in "learning in community", which means we learn as a group. We learn cooperatively, through discussion and activity, and give each other feedback. Program Staff are there to guide the process, provide input, and help everyone hold each other accountable for their learning. A lot of the group discussion takes place quite literally in a circle, but the circle is also significant as a symbol of the kind of equality and respect for each other that students are encouraged to practice. During Theme Years and Integrating Year students gather for 2 two-week learning circles, one in the fall and one in the spring.

When is the next Learning Circle?

Check out the Important Dates calendar.

Where do students stay during Learning Circles?

Booth College residence and McFeeter's Hall (University of Winnipeg residence) have been popular with students in the past. Here is a PDF document of information for students attending an LDM or Learning Circle in Winnipeg.

Do I have to participate in the travel pool?

The travel pool is administered by the students themselves, and they operate with the expectation that all Theme Year and Integrating Year students will take part.

How much does it cost to do the whole CCS Diploma Program?

Well, let's do some math. Visit the tuition page and jot down the tuition for an LDM, 3 Theme Years, and an Integrating Year. If you think you'll take a Reflection Year in there somewhere, jot down that fee too. Add all those up, and add %3 (just to be safe, in case tuition rates go up over the course of your studies). Now factor in costs for travel, accomodations, food, etc. for 8 Learning Circles (over the course of 4 years). Now add the cost of 8 external courses at a university or theological school. (Those rates will vary depending on where you go, but let's guess something like $600/course.) And then there's a few thousand dollars for the Global Perspectives Experience. And depending on where you do your Field Placement, there may be some travel costs or incidentals there... So, lots of variable factors, but ballpark you might pay around $39,000 for the whole program.

Is there financial help?

For information on bursaries, Student Loans, and other sources of funding, visit the bursary page.

Can I audit the LDM or a Theme Year?

Yes. If you would like to sit in on a learning circle, take part in discussions and activities, but don't want to do the assignments or get credit, you can audit. See the tuition page for information about auditing costs.

Can I just take one of the Theme Years?

Yes. You can take one of more Theme Year for a Certificate in Pastoral Care, Educational Ministry, or Social Ministry. The LDM is prerequisite for the Certificate program.

Can I work while studying at CCS?

Well, that's sort of a question of your time-management skills, family and community responsibilities, and energy. You certainly wouldn't want to work more than half time, and if you can afford to focus on your CCS learning without trying to balance a job at the same time it's probably worth it.

Will I have a Field Placement in my own community?

Quite possibly. A Field Placement is part of each of the Theme Years and focuses on the theme of that year (pastoral care, educational ministry, social ministry). Some Field Placements will be in a congregational setting, some can be in other places (such as senior's homes, prisons, social service agencies). Students submit Field Placement proposals to Program Staff, and most are able to find a suitable placement close to their home.

Are Field Placements a paid position?

Technically, no. Field Placements are a learning opportunity. However, some people are lucky enough to work in a setting that is appropriate to their learning goals.

In a field placement, the activity needs to be directed by the learning goals of the student. The process of reflecting on the doing is considered part of the field work. If a student is employed, for instance, 15 hours a week doing youth ministry in a congregation, they would have to demonstrate that there was time and room in the job description to meet the learning goals. In a Pastoral Care Year, perhaps one learning goal might focus on youth and peer pressure. In that case, there might well be a way to accomplish both the paid work and the field requirement at the same time. If another learning goal was about expressing a ministry of hope with 80 and 90 year olds, there is not likely going to be room for this work to be done in the youth ministry job description. Then there are options: renegotiate the job description with the employer for that year, trade work assignments with a colleague, volunteer the additional hours on top of the paid work, do the field placement, or part of the field placement in another setting, or combination of the above.

Because the 3 Theme Years have different focuses, it is very unlikely that a student could do all three field placements in the same place.




Can I use the material on the website?

For the most part, yes. All the material on the website that comes directly from CCS is Creative Commons. This means you can copy, distribute, or adapt it if you attribute it to Centre for Christian Studies. Essays and articles that are authored by others but are cited on this website are property of their respective authors and permission should be sought to repost or use.

This webite's content is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License.  To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/ca/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbot Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

How do I find things on the website?

There is a navigation bar with drop-down menus near the top of the page that link to various pages and sections of the website. As well, the sidebar on each page lists many of the pages within the current section.

There is a "search" button at the very top of the page. As well, you might want to look at the site map for the website.

The website was updated at the end of 2010, so if you are looking for a page or document from prior to that update, it may be in a different place. If there's something particular you're looking for but can't find, let us know.

Why doesn't the drop-down navigation bar work?

The navigation menu bar near the top of each page on the website uses javascript to operate. If you have disabled javascript in your browser settings, they might not work right.

Why can't I open some pages?

There could be a variety of reasons.

Some of the links on the website are to PDF documents. To open a PDF document you will need to have a PDF reader installed. You can download one for free from PDF reader from http://get.adobe.com/reader/

Some pages and parts of pages make use of Flash. If you do not have one already installed, you can download a free flash player from http://get2.adobe.com/flashplayer/

Some links may have become broken. If you discover a link that isn't working, let us know.

Who designed the website?

The current version of the CCS website was designed by CCS Program Administrator, Scott Douglas.

I found a broken link, out of date info, or typo. What should I do?

We try to keep the website up to date, but sometimes things slip. Let us know what needs to be corrected. If you can be as specific as possible and include the URL of the page where you noticed the mistake, it would be very helpful.

creative commonsUnless otherwise stated, website content is copyright the Centre for Christian Studies and free for use through Creative Commons. Click here for information on site usage.