Field education integrates academic study, spiritual discipline, and the practice of ministry. It is the portion of the MDiv curriculum that involves students in supervised work in ministry in PSR-approved ministry settings.
Field Education differs from field work, unsupervised church employment, and other employment because it requires:
- Involvement in significant learning opportunities for the full range of the work of ministry;
- Development of a learning/serving covenant at the beginning of each semester as the first step in the self-directed, self-reflective learning process;
- Weekly one-hour reflection sessions with an on-site mentor;
- Written evaluations by the mentor and the seminarian that are submitted to the Field Education Office at the end of each semester;
- Regular feedback from a constituency group (Teaching Parish Committee or Teaching Agency Committee) concerning the seminarian’s growth and level of competency;
- And, for students in Concurrent Field Education, participation in a weekly seminar throughout the academic year in which there is disciplined reflection on the practice of ministry.
Mentors within the local area are expected to participate in scheduled meetings with Field Education staff. During the first year of mentoring, there are five meetings. In subsequent years, there are three.
As PSR places students in field education sites, it assumes that each site has in force a safe congregation/ safe agency policy that includes protection of children and vulnerable adults and establishes clear guidelines to protect all persons from sexual and other forms of harassment. The responsibility for implementing and enforcing such a policy belongs to the site where the student’s field education is being carried out, and PSR relies upon the site’s policies and personnel to do so.
Field education placements may be part time (concurrent) or full time (internship) during the academic year. As an elective option, students may receive academic credit for full-time summer placements.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What kinds of places offer field education?
A: PSR students have done field education in a wide variety of settings depending on their vocational goals. As a multidenominational seminary, we have relationships with many area churches, both urban and suburban. Students interested in chaplaincy have fulfilled their field education through placements in area hospitals or hospice agencies and prisons. Students have worked in arts organizations and in social service and social justice organizations.
Q: How do I find the right place for me?
A: Students meet with Field Education staff during their first semester about opportunities that match individual goals. Each spring, the Field Education office hosts events to bring to campus representatives of churches and agencies who would like to have a student work with them. Students are urged to take advantage of those opportunities to explore options. By March, listings of possible placements become available. At that point, students need to visit and interview at places of interest.
Q: What happens at an interview? Is it like a job interview?
A: Although often less formal than a job interview, the interviews are an opportunity to discuss your goals for your learning and hear what the placement hopes to offer. The goal is to find a good match.
Q: What if I am not selected?
A: We communicate with churches and agencies offering placements that it is important to work on a similar timeframe. All interviews are to be conducted after March 1, and when a decision has been made, students who have interviewed are to be contacted promptly. It is the student’s responsibility to pursue another option. The Field Education staff will work with students until placements are secured.
Q: May I wait until the next year?
A: Field Education must be fulfilled prior to the final year of the MDiv program so that students have opportunities to integrate the learning of the field education experience into classroom learning and have time to pursue further study in areas that have been identified as needed for their ministry.