Theological Education for Leadership (TEL) - About

TEL Home  •  About  •  Courses  •  Certificates   •  Contact
Learners     Host Sites     Credit      Faculty      Technology      Cost

TEL Learners

TEL learners come from many different faith communities and backgrounds, creating rich opportunities for in-depth dialogue. The minimum age for enrolling in TEL courses is 21.

Spiritual Seekers & Laity

Individual courses and certificate programs are open to all adults who seek to learn. Dip your toe into the water of spiritual education and formation, or immerse your whole self. Courses are affordable, designed to accommodate your life and work schedule, and expose you to a range of exciting progressive theological ideas. Engage through the year to complete the CTEL certificate; take six months to study Gender, Sexuality & the Bible, or simply take a seminar or course that interests you. A bachelor's degree is not required.

Lay Ministers & Alternate Paths to Ministry

PSR is working with a number of denominations to provide learning experiences appropriate for ministry preparation. We are in collaboration with UMC's California Nevada Conference CLayM lay ministry program and UCC's Northern California Nevada Conference.  Consult with your local denominational representatives to see how TEL can be a part of your formation.


TEL provides high quality adult education programming for your congregation. It also provides focused ministry formation for individuals seeking positions of leadership in your church. Those who earn the CTEL certificate get exposure to a broad range of theology and ministry skills that can deepen biblical understanding, and build new skills.

TEL also offers CEUs for clergy and other professionals.

Those Considering Seminary

Faith seekers and prospective ministers who are discerning their call to serve God in their churches or faith communities and want to explore theological studies will find riches in the program. In TEL you get to know and learn from PSR and Graduate Theological Union (GTU) faculty. Completion of the CTEL certificate entitles graduates already possessing at least an associate's degree to apply three elective credits toward PSR graduate programs.

Congregational/Regional Groups

Learning in community is rich. We encourage groups to gather together to share a meal and engage with TEL courses and seminars. Perhaps part of the TEL program may serve your congregation's adult education needs. Or perhaps there are a number of people in different churches in your area who want to move more deeply into progressive Christian ministry. The TEL Program Coordinator can help you form a group in your community.  Congregations are invited to consider becoming a TEL Host Site.

Host Sites

Becoming a TEL Host Site is more than "providing space and access" to a virtual classroom experience.  As a host site, your congregation can become a community center for gathering adult learners who want to deepen their  theological and spiritual knowledge or explore new avenues of learning and sharing a progressive perspective of Christian faith and practice. Our hope is that our host sites will foster the building of community among our learners within a regional cohort context.  Host sites will receive a TEL Starter Kit which will provide guidelines for being a successful host site along with materials to help publicize the program.  Additionally, host sites will receive a small stipend to assist with the cost of hospitality snacks and a voucher for  a free PSR Summer Session course registration. 

Host site FAQ

Recording of November 17, 2011 host site orientation (Allow up to three minutes to load.  Although the live experience was flawless, the sound is slightly out of sync in the recording.)


TEL courses may be taken for continuing education units (CEUs). One CEU is awarded for each ten hours of contact and study. Foundations courses award 1.6 units and seminars award 0.3 units.

TEL courses do not provide academic (college or graduate school) credit. CTEL students who already possess an associates degree or higher and have earned a CTEL, may petition to transfer up to 3.0 credits toward a PSR graduate certificate or degree program by the end of their first semester at PSR. CTEL graduates must apply and be accepted to PSR graduate programs separately from the TEL program. Request transcripts here and follow credit transfer procedures to apply CTEL credits to your PSR program. Credits must be transferred in students' first semester of PSR graduate study. The maximum time allowed to complete the CTEL request is seven years from program admission.

Certificate of Ministry (CMS) graduates who wish to pursue further education at PSR may transfer up to 7.5 elective credits toward a PSR graduate certificate or degree program by the end of their first semester at PSR. No prior degree is required for credit transfer. Use the links above to request transcripts and indicate on your petition whether the program is CMS or CTEL. CMS students must complete their work by May 2016. After that period, the program will be closed. 

Some denominations or conferences may recognize TEL courses or the Certificate of Theolological Education for Leadership (CTEL) as fulfilling requirements for certification or other needs.  This is the case with the Certified Lay Minister (CLayM) program of the California Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. CTEL is the online avenue for CLayM students. Speak with your conference ministers if you wish to see TEL become a formal part of ministerial or lay leadership formation.

TEL Faculty

Instructors include PSR and Graduate Theological Union (GTU) faculty, PSR and GTU doctoral students, and qualified professionals from a range of Christian denominations. We will also be drawing instructors for specialized courses from our blossoming partnerships with organizations such as the Center for Progressive Renewal. These teachers represent a variety of racial/ethnic backgrounds and many come from the same communities as TEL students. Many of the excellent instructors from PSR's Certificate of Ministry Studies (CMS) program will continue their ministry in TEL.

Technology for TEL

TEL courses are about learning and community, not about technology. We are providing online offerings so that people across the country and around the world will have access to PSR's excellent faculty and progressive theology, and a broader community of learners and ministry experiences. In keeping with our desire to make high quality theological education accessible, TEL technology requirements for individuals are very simple. As an additional means to remove potential technology barriers, we encourage churches to become a TEL Host Site for community and regional cohorts, taking on a large portion of the technical concerns.

Required technology:

  • telephone with headset (preferred) or speaker.  Headset or speakerphone will be used for speaking and listening.  It is possible but awkward to use a hand-held non-speaker phone.  All calls are toll free - PSR will call you.  Cell phone users will be charged by their carrier at the usual per minute rate. Cell or cordless phone users should ensure that phone batteries are fully charged before each live seminar.
  • high speed internet connection
  • computer with speakers - most computers purchased within the past three years will meet all technical requirements (see for complete specifications.  Consult the paragraph referring to either Mac or PC)
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader (free download)
  • Adobe Flash Player (free download)
  • web camera
  • email account

See the TEL Technology Guide for details.

New TEL students are offered one-on-one tutorials from TEL staff, and step-by-step instructions through the TEL Technology Guide and within each course in order to smoothly access the simple learning technologies.

TEL staff will send students necessary instructions, web addresses, usernames and passwords within one week of course registration. 

Additionally, PSR IT staff are available to advise you with TEL-related technology issues.  Email or call 510/849-8284 between 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday, for technology assistance. Staff will respond to you within one business day.


Tuition costs are set as low as possible in order to encourage broad participation.  Although no scholarships are available from PSR for TEL, students may find support from their congregations or denominations.

Course Type Cost CTEL Student Cost
Seminar $15 - 60 $10 - 40


$200 $120

Students registered for the Certificate of Theological Education for Leadership (CTEL) receive a 40% discount on registration costs, as indicated above.  To complete the twelve-month CTEL program, online course registration costs total $1260.  The cost of books is not included in the tuition total.  Students can anticipate spending $150 - $200 for required reading materials. There is a $30 CTEL application fee.

Tuition Refund Policy
Full refund is available through the day before all TEL courses and seminars
Fifty percent refund on first day of a multi-day course. (No refund is available after the first day of a multi-day course).

No refund is available on or after the day of a single-session seminar.

See the courses page for individual classes and their costs.