Other Educational Opportunities

In addition to the foundational components of its degree programs in Philadelphia, Palmer Theological Seminary offers a wide variety of additional educational opportunities.

Eastern’s School of Christian Ministry (ESCM)

Palmer’s Eastern’s School of Christian Ministry (ESCM) is a non-degree non-credit continuing education certificate and diploma program that provides a flexible, affordable, and high quality theological education for men and women who seek a theological education in a seminary setting without the demands of a graduate theological degree. The ESCM program offers two diploma programs in Pastoral Studies and Biblical and Theological Studies, and three certificate programs in Biblical Studies, Christian Leadership, and Christian Studies. Certificates are designed for pastors, ministers, and lay leaders who wish to hone their skills in the areas of leadership or religious studies and teaching.  Diplomas are designed for bivocational pastors or those wishing to lead a teaching ministry. See ESCM’s webpage at http://palmerseminary.edu/escm for more information.

For interested students, Eastern University will validate learning within the non-degree programs of ESCM by granting one undergraduate credit for each course with a block of six ESCM courses, provided that the student has completed the additional work for the course, that the student has achieved a grade of B or better in the course, and that a maximum of 40 elective credits may be earned at no extra cost, effective January 1, 2004. All courses must be taken in Pennsylvania for this to be effective.

Continuing Education

Palmer Theological Seminary’s faculty accepts the standards developed by the National Task Force on the CEU for granting continuing education units (CEU). One Continuing Education Unit is defined as: “Ten contact hours of participation in an organized continuing education experience under responsible sponsorship, capable direction, and qualified instruction” (National Task Force on the CEU, 1974).

The following guidelines govern the offering of course experiences for CEU credit:

  1. Summer Term electives are available for those seeking CEU credit (unless otherwise specified).
  2. Elective courses during the academic year may be taken for CEU credit.
  3. Courses, workshops, and conferences designed especially for CEU may be offered at specially arranged times. These usually are not available for academic credit.
  4. To receive CEUs, students must meet the minimum requirement of ten (10) contact hours of participation for each unit of credit.
  5. The Seminary will grant a certificate indicating the number of CEU credits earned, following the completion of each course or other educational experience.

Interseminary Seminar

For over thirty years, a seminar has been conducted with students and faculty from several area seminaries, at which papers are presented by students for discussion. The number of students participating is limited to four from each Seminary. These seminars provide opportunities for learning in an ecumenical setting, and students earn credit for participating.

In the late spring, the faculty selects students to participate in the seminar for the following fall. The students select topics for papers within an agreed overall theme. Students are expected to attend all sessions.

Hispanic Summer Program

Palmer Theological Seminary is a sponsoring member of the Hispanic Summer Program (HSP), whose mission is to “supplement and enrich the theological and ministerial education being offered in seminaries and universities with academic courses and other activities directly addressing Hispanic history, ministry, and theology.” All Palmer students are encouraged to apply to take one of seven 3-credit, 2-week intensive summer courses offered each year by HSP at a total cost of $425. This covers tuition, round-trip airfare, and 13 days of room and board. For more information, please visit http://hispanicsummerprogram.org/.


To serve our constituency within the region, and to complement classroom education, the Seminary sponsors two lectureships.

The Frank B. Mitchell Lectureship

This lectureship is named for the late Reverend Dr. Frank B. Mitchell, former pastor of Pinn Memorial Baptist Church in Philadelphia. Dr. Mitchell was a friend and supporter of Palmer Theological Seminary and its African American students. For more than 40 years he and Mrs. Mitchell mentored men and women into ministry. His life was a prime exhibition of unfailing Christian love, coupled with a desire to serve others.

The Mitchell lectureship raises critical questions concerning the nature of theology and ministry from an African American Church perspective.

The Orlando S. Costas Lectureship

This lectureship is named for the late missiologist and theologian, the Reverend Doctor Orlando S. Costas. A native of Puerto Rico and former member of the Seminary faculty, Dr. Costas was a passionate advocate for the voiceless and oppressed. As a scholar, his legacy to church and academy includes 14 books authored by him, 17 books to which he contributed essays, and 14 journals in which he published articles. As an administrator, he was the first U.S. Latino to be dean of an accredited seminary in the United States. The Costas lectureship honors his work and celebrates those who embody and carry forward Dr. Costas’ multicultural, holistic vision for local church and community work informed by global realities.

Biblical Studies

One of the Seminary’s primary purposes has been to make the Bible central in the curriculum of the institution, with full awareness that

  1. knowledge of the original languages is essential to the most accurate interpretation of the Scriptures, and that
  2. provision must be made for those who use primarily the English text.

Therefore, while two semesters of either New Testament Greek or Biblical Hebrew is required of all M.Div. Pastoral Leadership track students, the English text will be basic to most courses. Courses will promote comprehensive knowledge of the content of the whole Bible, meet the needs of those who use the English translations, and provide opportunity for students qualified in the languages to compare English versions with the original texts for greater competence in interpreting the Bible.

Christian Counseling

Christian counseling courses are listed under the course prefixes COUN as well as PRMN (Practice of Ministry). Please refer to both sections of the catalog for the relevant course descriptions.

Denominational Courses

Palmer Theological Seminary does not require students to complete denominational coursework in order to earn the Master of Divinity degree. Some denominations, however, do require this of their pastors or candidates for ordination. Each student should consult with his or her denominational body to determine what, if any, requirements the denomination has for completion of denominational coursework.

Practice of Ministry

The Practice of Ministry area reflects Palmer Theological Seminary’s commitment to applied and practical theology. This area encompasses such fields as preaching, pastoral care, Christian education and youth ministry, pastoral ministry and leadership, and administration. All M.Div. students are required to take core courses that introduce each field,after which electives are chosen to broaden and deepen understanding and skills. Stress is placed upon diverse styles and current trends in the practice of ministry.

Supervised Fieldwork

This area encompasses theological field education and clinical fieldwork required of students in the M.Div. and M.T.S. Christian Counseling programs. Ministry theories are examined in light of theological field education experiences.

Spiritual Formation and Character

Palmer Seminary is committed to development of students not only academically and professionally, but personally as well. Courses in the area of Spiritual Formation and Character are designed to encourage the student’s personal growth and foster their own awareness of who they are in relation to their peers, the people that they serve and, most importantly, to God. Core courses in the Spiritual Formation and Character area are required of all students in the M.Div. and M.T.S. Christian Counseling programs.

Theology and Ethics

The field of Theology and Ethics includes courses in Theology, Ethics, and Public Policy. Basic to the curriculum are core courses introducing theological reflection and hermeneutical application. Students are expected to learn and use these techniques to enhance their skills in ministry and personal study. A broad variety of advanced electives allow maximum specialization in areas of particular interest.