Below are some examples of how Western Reformed Seminary tracks quality of education and the means for continual assessment and improvement.
Learning Outcomes and Rubrics
A learning outcome is defined as a statement describing the knowledge, skills, values, dispositions, attitudes, and/or experiences that students should acquire through completion of a course or program of study. Program outcomes are located on the degree programs page: https://wrs.edu/academics/programs.
Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) are developed by faculty and approved by the administration. Intended learning outcomes are stated in measurable terms. Faculty develops measurable learning outcomes for students, implements plans to support students in meeting these outcomes, and assesses what students have learned, the means by which they learned, and the effectiveness of the learning process. Student Learning Outcomes are posted on the course information/syllabus for each course and are likewise used to evaluate the success of the course at the conclusion of instruction. A sample is available here, or they can be found on the course information links for each course: https://www.wrs.edu/academics/current-courses.
Rubrics are also an important measure to help the student understand explicitly what the professor's performance expectations are for an assignment or piece of work. One great example is the rubric used for our public speaking and homiletics courses found here.
Small Faculty to Student Ratio
WRS is a seminary in the Pacific Northwest where the culture has not supported church involvement and religious studies to the extent as other regions of the US. This often translates to small class sizes and a small but energetic student body. The faculty to student ratio often ranges from 1:2 to 1:5. The small class sizes, however, afford a high level of personalization and feedback.
Graduation Rates and Statistics (Graduates):
As of 2023, 70% of our 58 graduates (since our inception in 1983) are actively engaged in current ministry as pastors, missionaries, or church workers.
Over the past 20 years (2013-2023), WRS had 35 degree students of which 17 have graduated and two more are expected to graduate in 2024. 35% of those students completed their program of study within 3 years. Over the same period 55% of our students have completed their program of study within 4 years. This does not include non-degree students taking individual classes for personal enrichment.
In the last five years, out of 16 degree students who were enrolled from 2018-2023: Seven graduated (44%); Four are currently completing their programs (25%); totaling, 69% have completed or are on track to complete their degree program. Out of the 16 degree students who were enrolled from 2018-2023: Two dropped out of WRS (13%); Three are inactive and may return to studies (19%); Totaling 31% who dropped or temporarily discontinued their degree programs.
As of 2023, 53% of our 58 graduates entered the pastoral ministry, and 13% are involved in other full-time Christian ministries. Most of the rest of our graduates are engaged in volunteer church work.
As of 2023, 19% of our 58 graduates went on to pursue additional advanced degrees from other institutions.
How WRS Students Use Their Seminary Education
WRS is an approved independent agency of the Bible Presbyterian Church, but it is not a licensing nor ordination body for any denomination. In the past five years, WRS graduated seven degree students. One was already an ordained pastor in his denomination. One was already serving as an ordained elder and working in a full time ministry position. The other five were bi-vocational degree students serving in volunteer capacities within their local churches. Upon graduation, one of the bi-vocational degree students went into full time Christian ministry.
In the fall semester of 2023 WRS had 19 registered students: 9 degree students, 1 credit student, and 9 auditors. Eight of the students were already serving in full-time ministry positions. Nine are taking classes for personal growth and volunteer service in the local church. Two are bi-vocational degree students and another is a foreign student, all of whom may pursue ministry employment after graduation.
WRS continuously assesses how our students are meeting learning outcomes and how programs can be shaped to foster improved learning. The primary purpose of assessment is for use by faculty and administration to continuously reflect on and refine their courses, programs, and supports for student learning. A sample course evaluation is available here.
Students are regularly given the opportunity to provide feedback and input regarding WRS’s educational curriculum, processes, and instruction. Following the completion of each course that is taught, current students evaluate the faculty member, content, delivery, and other important elements of a seminary course. These evaluations are collated, analyzed, and utilized by the Administration and Faculty of the seminary for adjustment, change, or maintenance of the course and its curriculum as is appropriate.
- "My WRS courses have provided many tangible benefits to my service in the church. The OT courses have made clearer to me the value of the kingdom of God as a guide to holiness for Christians. In particular, my study of the law and prophets has brought to my attention the value God places on justice between man and man, in addition to justice between God and man. Further, as I have studied the confessional standards and Calvin's Institutes as a guide to theology, I have seen the immense value of these works as helpful tools and devotional aids. My sermon and Sunday school preparation has also benefited greatly from the background, context, purpose and interpretive history of the Scriptures. Finally, my appreciation for the value of the Psalms and Proverbs as guides to personal piety has grown immensely. Because of all this, I love my Lord more deeply and desperately and his church more dearly." (Christian, M.C.M. Student, 2022)
- "My short time studying at WRS has helped me gain a more deeper understanding in church history. I find it very edifying to see where the church has come from and what challenges it has faced. In addition, I have found a deeper appreciation of the Reformed tradition that I hold so dearly." (Harvey, M.C.M. Student, 2022)
- "My training at WRS excited me for formal biblical studies. I was able to immediately begin using my newly acquired skills and knowledge for use in the church. But it also drove me to continue my academics for a PhD in Biblical Studies after graduation. WRS prepared me well for both the practical use of biblical studies for personal and church life, as well as a solid foundation for doctoral studies." (Scott, M.B.S. & M.Div. graduate, 2020)
- "Many seminaries or Christian universities today pride themselves on giving their students the best Christian education in order to equip those going into the ministry with the tools and knowledge they need for success. While I know there are several fine schools out there that are able to thoroughly equip men and women for the different ministerial callings, sadly it seems that the world of Christian education is abandoning the fundamental and foundational necessities that are needed to even be considered Christian. Western Reformed Seminary is not one of those schools.
"WRS truly and thoroughly equips its students for the ministry. There is much I appreciate about Western Reformed Seminary. For one, its foundation is the authority of Scripture. The recognition that truth is revealed to us and defined by God. The faculty seeks to not just educate students but to help mold them, shape them, and hold them to the incredibly high standard that the Bible requires of a minister. This is the thing I think I most appreciate about the seminary.
"The faculty is made up of pastors who live up to the standards that the Bible holds them to, not just morally (though that is of the utmost importance) but intellectually as well. Each professor is an expert in the field that they teach ensuring the highest quality education is given to the students.
"The reputation of WRS is reflected in its graduates which are made up of pastors, teachers, professors, missionaries, and more. Not only do the professors care about the students who attend and want to see them succeed, but more importantly they want Christ to be honored in the education provided. It is an institution that requires much, but through it all encourages and equips the students with the tools needed to be successful.
"For me, this is what I look for in a seminary and why I appreciate WRS. Their foundation is Scripture and obedience to the expectations and standards it places on ministers; a staff that is well trained and equipped to teach the material that is needed; and a long line of graduates who are using and applying the skills and knowledge they acquired from their time at the seminary. I am very blessed to be there." (Ty, M.Div. & M.T.S. Student, 2022)