Program of Alternate Studies

Welcome to the PAS PAGE where you will find many of the answers to life’s persistent questions, or a few important facts about the Program of Alternate Studies. pas1


What is PAS?

The Program of Alternate Studies (PAS) is a non-degree certificate program given oversight by the Board of Trustees of Memphis Theological Seminary.  It is an alternate route to ordination designed to accommodate those who possess significant gifts for ministry, yet whose circumstances hinder them from completing the regular course of study in a graduate school of theology.  It is intended to enable the women and men who are called by God to succeed in ministry to the limits of their capability.

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PAS is an approved educational alternative for the preparation of ordained ministers in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.  This denomination has a long history of innovative efforts to provide the maximum possible preparation for persons who are called by God, who are gifted for ministry, and who find a seminary education inaccessible.

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How does it WORK? 

The heart of the PAS program is the Summer Extension School, a fifteen-day intensive on the campus of Bethel University in McKenzie, TN each July.  Here students take the bulk of their classes.  This period of intense study, worship, and fellowship that has come to be referred to as the PAS experience!

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The school is divided into three five-day blocks of course offerings.  Students may take up to three courses per block (9 total).  Most instructors require a significant after-class project or paper.  Only after this homework is successfully completed does the student get credit for the course.

The remaining courses are taken in a series of Weekend Schools held across the country throughout the year in various locations.  Beginning in 2014, some PAS courses will be made available in an online format to be completed in the context of the student wherever he/she may be.

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 It takes 35 courses in all to complete the program.  Graduates who have completed the required work receive their certificate in an official graduation ceremony held at the beginning of each Summer Extension School.

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Who is ELIGIBLE?

PAS is an authorized alternate route to ordination for Cumberland Presbyterian clergy.  The local presbytery makes the determination of who may qualify for the exception to the traditional route due to extenuating circumstances such as age or family issues.  It requires a vote of two-thirds of the members present to send a candidate through the Program of Alternate Studies.  Most presbyteries pay all or a substantial part of the expenses for Cumberland Presbyterian students to PAS.

In recent years the benefits of the PAS experience have been recognized beyond just those seeking ordination as Cumberland Presbyterian ministers.  PAS and seminary graduates, aspiring clergy from other denominations, and lay-leaders have found great value in taking courses of interest.  Anyone may audit classes of their choosing.

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PAS-Colombia

In 2012 the Program of Alternate Studies embarked on a groundbreaking, game-changing endeavor to bring the kind of robust practical education that constituents in PAS-U.S. have come to value. It continues to meet a huge need and “stand in the gap” for men and women called to ministry but hindered from pursuit of formal theological education. The Program of Alternate Studies is proud to be a part of what the Spirit of God is doing in Colombia. To view a brief (3 minute) audiovisual report from the Dean of PAS-Colombia CLICK HERE.

What are the COSTS?

Tuition:             $315 per course
Books:              $ 40 per course (ave)
Room & Board $ 31 per day (Bethel University prices as of July, 2013)
Travel expenses and Weekend School room & board are the responsibility of the student.

Please contact the Director or Assistant to the Director of the Program of Alternate Studies for additional information:

Director:    Michael Qualls      mqualls@memphisseminary.edu
Assistant:   Karen Patten         kpatten@memphisseminary.edu