St. Nersess students follow one of three graduate theological programs: the Master of Divinity (M.Div) degree through St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, the St. Nersess the Great degree, or the Master of Diaconal Ministry degree.
Master of Divinity (M.Div.)
The Master of Divinity is the standard degree for pastoral ministry in North America, which most students seeking ordination as priests in the Armenian Church will pursue. A unique M.Div. degree with a concentration in Armenian Church Studies is offered at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in nearby Crestwood, New York, with the participation of St. Nersess faculty. Specified courses in Church History and Patristics, Liturgical Studies, Classical Armenian and Liturgical Praxis and Music are tailored for students preparing for ministry in the Armenian Church. Additional training at St. Nersess Seminary in Modern Armenian Language, Pastoral Skills, Formation, and Spirituality, and Homiletics supplements course offerings at St. Vladimir’s.
The program extends three full years including summers for students proficient in both Armenian and English, and for four or more years for those requiring propaedeutic work in languages or music. An additional year of study and service in one of the Armenian Church hierarchical centers is required for most students.
St. Nersess the Great Program for the Late Vocations
The St. Nersess the Great program is an accelerated course of theological studies designed to prepare men who seek ordination to the holy priesthood of the Armenian Church as a second or late vocation. The program is based on the example of the fourth-century Catholicos St. Nersess the Great, a self-made man who, later in life, applied his vast military, administrative and academic experience to the church as a priest and pastor.
The program focuses on the acquisition of the most essential theological knowledge and pastoral skills required to serve competently and graciously a parish priest. Qualified students with sufficient language and music skills may complete the program in two years, a maximum of one year of which may be off-campus via distance learning.
Master of Diaconal Ministry Degree
The diaconate is the doorway to ordained ministry in the Armenian Church. This program is designed for men seeking diaconal ordination, who wish, beyond their secular work, to devote themselves to serving in those ministries traditionally associated with deacons: liturgical ministry, teaching, preaching, visiting the sick, praying with and for others, and assisting the priest in other ministries at the parish level. In addition to liturgical skills, students are given a foundation in sacred Scripture, the liturgy, prayer, and Armenian Christianity (including theology, history, saints, and sacred arts). Training in various pastoral skills and arts is provided. The course is designed to be completed in 3-6 years of part-time work, most of it via distance learning, under the supervision of both a St. Nersess faculty member and a priest-mentor.