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New Flexible Admission Policy Opens Doors to Skilled Adult Learners
No degree? No problem. Christian professionals who wish to study at the master’s level no longer need to complete an undergraduate degree before being admitted to Providence Theological Seminary. The Seminary’s new Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) policy will offer full acceptance to individuals with learning equivalent to a Bachelor of Arts. The policy is among the first of its kind for Canadian seminaries. It meets or exceeds best practices as set forth by the Manitoba government.
“Many highly skilled students want to study at Providence Seminary,” says Marie Raynard, an RPL advocate and Associate Registrar at Providence. “They have learning from a variety of work and ministry experiences. The RPL process will eliminate duplication of that learning. If they can prove they already have the necessary knowledge or skills, why ask them to repeat it?”
Raynard says the new policy will save students money and encourage those already working in church and para-church ministries to pursue further education. Provost Dr. David Johnson agrees. “I believe RPL contributes to the Seminary’s goal of making accredited theological education more accessible to more people. It puts Providence on the cutting edge of educational services to students.”
The new policy is about opening doors to learners, but it does have limits. “Not every application for RPL will be accepted,” Raynard says. “RPL is about learning, not just experience. Anyone going through the process will need to prove that they are currently competent in a variety of areas.”
The RPL process will require applicants to compile a portfolio that documents their learning and matches that learning to the seminary’s list of “BA Learning Outcomes.” These outcomes outline what the seminary expects a BA graduate to know and be able to do. Applicants will receive assistance from administrative staff throughout the process.
Plans are underway to develop and implement an RPL program for Providence University College. Validating what students have accomplished outside of traditional classrooms will benefit both individual students and the community as a whole. This is one more way Providence is pursuing its mission of teaching people to grow in knowledge and character for leadership and service.
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