Theological Education for Leadership (TEL) - About

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Theological Education for Leadership - TEL - is a program of special online courses and seminars that provide progressive, accessible Christian theological education year round for clergy, laity, and spiritual seekers from diverse racial/ethnic communities. TEL is multicultural in its design and focus. It may be engaged at the level that works for you - for personal spiritual formation, lay leadership training, professional growth, or continuing education.

Using PSR's "flexible learning" approach, TEL fosters a strong and supportive community environment while enabling participation at a distance through online learning. A carefully selected curriculum of online courses and seminars may be engaged individually, or as part of a non-graduate-level certificate.

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 increase their knowledge of theological principles. You are invited to dip your toe into the water of spiritual education and formation, or immerse your whole self. Courses are affordable, compact, and expose you to a range of exciting progressive theological ideas. You may engage in a year of study to complete the CTEL certificate; take seven months to study Gender, Sexuality & the Bible, or simply take a seminar or course that interests you. A bachelor's degree is not required.

TEL provides high quality adult education programming for individuals and groups from congregations. It also provides focused ministry formation for
individuals seeking positions of congregational leadership.  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

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 the Metropolitan Community Churches' L.E.A.D. program.  Consult with your local denominational representatives to see how TEL can be a part of your formation.  See the TEL Certificates page for information about the CTEL and other ministry preparation programs.


TEL offers CEUs for clergy and other professionals.The course offerings are fully accessible online, affordable and engaging for clegy looking to deepen their skills in targeted areas. The instructors are PSR and GTU professors and occasional guest instructors providing opportunities to discuss and explore current global topics.

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 with PSR and Graduate Theological Union (GTU) faculty. Completion of the CTEL certificate entitles graduates already possessing an associate's degree or above 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 simply 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, and explore new avenues of learning and sharing a progressive perspective of Christian faith and practice. Our hope is that TEL host sites will build a community of learners within a regional cohort context.  

Host site FAQ


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 graduates who already possess an associates degree or higher 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 is seven years from program admission.

Certificate of Ministry Studies (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 CMS 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. For the Certified Lay Minister (CLayM) program of the California Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, and the Metropolitan Community Churches' L.E.A.D. lay leadership program, CTEL is a provider of online coursework. Speak with your conference ministers if you wish to see TEL become a formal part of ministerial or lay leadership formation in your area.

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. These excellent instructors represent a variety of racial/ethnic backgrounds and many come from the same communities as TEL students.

TEL Technology

TEL courses are about learning and community, not about technology. We want people across the country and around the world will have access to PSR's excellent faculty, progressive theology, and a broad community of learners and ministry experiences. In keeping with our desire to make high quality theological education highly 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.  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.


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 Certificate Student Cost
Seminar $30 - 60* $20 - 40*


$200* $120*

Students registered for TEL certificates 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.

To complete the Gender, Sexuality & the Bible certificate program, online registration costs total $820.  Students can anticipate spending approximately $140 for required reading materials.

*Plus service fees of approximately 6%.  

Tuition Refund Policy
Full refund is available through the day before a TEL course or seminar

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.