Each student in the MDiv, MA, dual MDiv/MA, and joint MDiv/MSW degree programs must complete two field education placements. Both field education placements must be completed during the degree timeframe. Ordinarily one placement is done full-time during the summer and the other part-time during the academic year. A full-time nine-to-twelve-month intensive ministry internship may be done in place of either the required summer or academic year placement. Two summer placements will not fill the FE requirements.
One field education placement must be done in a church setting. The church experience is central to the Seminary’s mission to equip leaders for the pastorate. Thus local churches constitute the majority of sites in the pool of field education placements. To qualify as a Church Placement, the student must preach at least 2 times. Additionally, students must spend at least 1 hour per week in the following activities to be considered a Church Placement: Pastoral care/counseling, Teaching/training others, Supervisory meeting, Worship Leadership, and Visitation. Generally, the church placement may not be done in the student’s home church.
MA(TS) students are required to do only one placement (summer, academic year, or year-long intensive) in a church or specialized ministry. The placement must be completed during the degree timeframe.
The Office of Field Education uses an advisement system to help the student explore how to best acquire the practical skills and experience he or she desires. Each student entering the MACEF, MDiv, MA(TS), or dual MACEF/MDiv program is assigned a field education advisor. The process of securing a field education placement is interactive and involves the student, his or her advisor, and various field education site supervisors. The initial meeting between the student and the field education advisor allows each to meet the other and begin to explore the student’s gifts for and calling to ministry. Subsequent meetings between the student and his or her advisor get to the basics of assessing the student’s already developed skills and targeting areas for further development. During these meetings, the field education advisor will provide information to the student on available sites in the pool of established and approved sites on file in the Office of Field Education. Based on his or her experience with the sites in the approved pool and knowledge about the supervisor, the advisor will suggest several sites that he or she feels will be able to meet the student’s needs. The student is also encouraged to explore the field education database for sites that may be a good fit based on the student’s gifts, goals for formation, and sense of call.
Placements are available in churches representing twenty-five denominations, in specialized ministries, in Clinical Pastoral Education sites, and in focused placements that concentrate on particular types of ministry. Some of the many types of ministry experiences available to students are:
Church: The purpose of supervised ministry in a church is to help students acquire a general understanding of the church and its ministry in a variety of areas, and to help prepare students for ordained ministry, general pastoral responsibilities, and religious leadership roles. Focuses of a church placement can include multicultural ministry, new church development, rural ministry, youth/young adult ministry, adult ministry, music ministry, outreach, mission etc.
Specialized Ministry: The purpose of supervised ministry in a specialized ministry placement is to help students acquire a general understanding of the nature of a particular institution, its governance, and the needs it addresses, as well as to help prepare students for leadership roles and responsibilities that use their theological education in the broader public context. Specialized ministry placements include advocacy/public policy, camp ministry, campus ministry, disabilities, geriatric ministry, hospital chaplaincy, mental health, prison ministry, social services, substance abuse counseling, women's issues, etc.
Clinical Pastoral Education: The purpose of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is to provide a method for developing personal discernment and pastoral and clinical skills under supervision. There are at least two accreditations for pastoral education—The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) and The College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy (CPSP).
International Field Education: The purpose of the international field education placement is to provide opportunities for students to develop global awareness in order to empower them to minister in a multicultural world at home or abroad. Concepts such as ethnocentrism, mission, and globalization are examined in cross-cultural contexts through partnership with churches and specialized ministries throughout the world. Previous cross-cultural experience, not necessarily international, is preferred. Only students who have applied for and been accepted into the international program are eligible for international placements. All applicants must maintain at least a GPA of 3.0 and not have any failing grades on their transcript at time of departure to their international placement.
Teaching Ministry: The purpose of the teaching ministry placement is to help students who plan to teach in higher education or in an adult teaching ministry in the church to learn to apply their theological knowledge in an adult education program. While participating in the general life of a selected site, students will design, implement, and teach adult education. Working both independently (under the guidance of the supervisor and faculty mentor) and with others in the congregation/organization, the student connects curriculum, methodology, and resources to the faith development of adult learners. Students must apply for and be accepted into the teaching ministry program.
Urban Ministry: The purpose of supervised ministry in an urban environment is to provide students opportunities to further explore their call in urban ministry while serving in selected inner city churches and specialized ministry contexts. Students will discover issues of concern in the urban setting and discuss strategies for renewal and change. Working both independently and under the supervision and mentorship of a practitioner of urban ministry, the student will design and implement programs. Students are invited to be part of the program. It is recommended that students in the urban ministry field education program register for a one credit FE 3105 Practicum in Theological Reflections. This may be taken in conjunction with your urban field education placement. (See the course catalogue for details).
Yearlong Intensive Ministry Internships: The purpose of the intensive internship program is to provide students with opportunities to engage in supervised ministry for a period of nine-to-twelve months on a full-time basis. A well-structured and intentionally conceived internship will provide the student with opportunities for learning and growth that will help: (1) clarify vocational direction and commitment; (2) develop personal and professional understanding of and competence for ministry; and (3) foster personal, interpersonal, and spiritual growth.
“Through my field education placement at Trinity Presbyterian Church in East Brunswick, New Jersey, I discovered my gift to minister to all age groups. ”