“Boldness Begins at Home”

Pacific School of Religion is located in the beautiful hills of Berkeley. And in your beautiful living room at home. Flexible Learning includes online, hybrid, blended, intensive, and evening/weekend courses that allow you to study with renowned PSR faculty and fellow students without leaving home, job, or family.

These options are ideal for, but not limited to, distance students who live outside commuting range from the campus in Berkeley. Online courses are taught with simple, robust technology. Hybrid courses combine on-campus and online learning. Intensive courses are conducted on campus in one-, two-, or three-week sessions. Evening/Weekend courses invite students to learn on campus outside of office hours. Seekers, seminarians, clergy and scholars from Berkeley and around the world can easily join together in dialogue around critical theological texts and issues in progressive Christianity.

Online students outside of California

Pacific School of Religion is either authorized to provide distance education or exempt from such authorization in all U.S. states with the exception of Alabama.

For more information

For more information about Flexible Learning at PSR, including how to apply, contact the PSR Admissions Office at 800/999-0528 or 510/849-8253.

There are many different ways to engage with PSR’s Flexible Learning programs. If you are interested in pursuing ministerial studies for academic credit, PSR offers the following options:

  • Individual courses – Pursue your passion or take a taste of PSR by enrolling in individual courses.  SeeSpecial student status or Auditing courses for summer or semester courses.
  • Certificate of Theological Studies  – Follow an eight- to twelve-course plan of study that fits into your life schedule. Credits may later be applied to a master’s degree.
  • Certificate of Sexuality and Religion – Select seven to thirteen courses in sexuality and religion, offered in partnership with PSR’s Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Ministry (CLGS).
  • Master of Divinity – Begin at home with the Certificate of Theological Studies, then apply to complete the MDiv with just two years of on-campus coursework (typical residency is three years).
  • Master of Theological Studies – Begin at home with the Certificate of Theological Studies, then apply to complete the MTS with just one year of on-campus coursework (typical residency is two years).
  • Doctor of Ministry – Take six courses online and/or on campus to explore pressing issues in ministry. Develop your research skills in this interdisciplinary program.

For shorter, non-credit, lay or continuing education courses see Theological Education for Leadership (TEL).  TEL has a separate cost structure and admissions process from other Flexible Learning options. Study online or in your local community with TEL, a theological education program for lay leaders and clergy (not for graduate credit). TEL follows in the tradition of PSR’s Certificate of Ministry Studies program.flexi

What technologies are used in online classes?

Most PSR and GTU courses, online and face-to-face, are taught using the GTU’s Moodle course management system. Moodle is a password-protected home for each class where materials are presented and class members interact with each other and the instructor.

Additionally, PSR courses may employ a range of technologies selected by individual faculty to best suit the course’s learning outcomes. There may be live or recorded audio/video lectures, slide shows, live conversation, student presentations, and group or one-on-one meetings by email, chat, phone or web conference. Students may be asked to create blogs, simple videos, wikis, or other technology-based products.  The instructor’s syllabus will indicate what technology will be used.

Distance students sometimes join face-to-face classes via videoconferencing tools such as Zoom.

See the PSR Online Course Tech Guide for details about Moodle & Adobe Connect.

What competencies are required of online learners?

Students enrolling in online courses will be expected to have moderate proficiency in the following.  These skills are not taught at PSR:

  • use of a PC or Mac, including Windows Explorer/Search function (PC) or the Finder (Mac)
  • connecting and using your webcam with your computer
  • effective use of Internet browsers, including Mozilla Firefox
  • Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint)

Students should be prepared to adapt to new online applications. Instruction will be provided via tutorials, workshops and one-on-one support through the Office of Community & Continuing Education.

Learning from a distance can demand a higher level of planning, concentration, self-motivation, proactive communication, and commitment than traditional learning. Students should enter with the expectation of applying these skills in the online setting.

What technologies are required for online learners?

Unhindered access to a high-speed Internet connection is required.  If possible, the computer should have the option of being hard-wired to the Internet, rather than connecting wirelessly, to improve connection speed.

A quiet place should be designated for working online, uninterrupted by family or work activities.

Students need the following hardware.  While every class may not require all the items below, these are considered basic needs:

  • computer: Mac (minimum 1.83GHz processor, 512MB of RAM (1GB recommended), OS X 10.7.4)
    or PC (minimum 1.4GHz processor, Windows 7, 512MB of RAM (1GB recommended)).
    Although a tablet may be sufficient for many functions, some applications may require a computer to run correctly.
  • computer speakers
  • computer headset
  • webcam
  • telephone with headset

Students need the following software/accounts.  While every class may not require all the items below, these are considered basic needs:

  • latest version of Adobe Flash (free)
  • latest version of Adobe PDF Reader (free)
  • Mozilla Firefox Internet browser (free)
  • Microsoft Office or the equivalent (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) (student version of Office is acceptable)
  • Skype account (free)
  • Google plus account (free)

Online courses run in weekly rhythms over the full length of a semester.

As in the traditional classroom, faculty choose from a variety of teaching methods, depending on the subject matter and their own teaching style. There will be an abundance of reading, writing, and conversation (written or spoken) in each class. There may also be live, audio, or video lectures, slide shows, live conversation, student presentations, and group or one-on-one meetings by email, chat, phone or web conference.

Asynchronous courses have no required meeting time; you engage with the course on your own schedule on a weekly basis. These courses may have occasional “synchronous” components such as conference calls or web conferences. They are conducted through the GTU’s online learning system, called “Moodle.”

Synchronous courses meet online at designated times weekly.  Attendance online at scheduled times is required.  These courses may include both students in the Berkeley classroom and students online. Residential and Flexible Learning students participate together in ways that may include lectures, projects, presentations, and discussions.  They may be conducted using a web conferencing technology called Adobe Connect.

Hybrid courses involve some time in the classroom on campus and some time learning online using technologies mentioned above.

Intensive courses are one-, two- or three-week long classes offered during the summer or January intersession on PSR’s Berkeley campus. Students share lectures, worship, special events, and the beautiful Bay Area with classmates as they progress through their courses. Housing on campus is generally available.

Evening/Weekend Courses are offered on campus in the evenings and/or on weekends, enabling those with commitments during business hours to conveniently attend.

Theological Education for Leadership (TEL) Courses are fully online lay and continuing education courses.  CEUs are available; these courses are not for academic credit.

What courses are offered?

Each year, PSR will offer online or intensive courses in the following areas. Some courses may meet multiple area requirements:

Certificate of Theological Studies (four of the five areas below offered each year) areas:

  • Biblical Studies (BS, OT, NT)
  • History (HS)
  • Theology or Philosophy (ST, PH, PT)
  • Christian Ethics or Religion & Society (CE, RS)
  • Practical Theology (FT, SP, HM, LS, PS, ED)

Certificate of Sexuality and Religion area:

  • Sexuality and Religion

At least one online course will be offered by PSR each fall, spring, and summer term. PSR intensive courses are offered on campus during January and summer terms. Courses offered by other GTU schools in any format enrich the curriculum and may be taken by PSR students at no additional cost.

Those living close to the Berkeley campus but seeking the Flexible Learning experience may choose to take semester-long, on-campus courses as well as online and intensive courses.

Online Course Listings

Remember that flexible learning courses include more than just online courses.  See the GTU course catalogfor information about all PSR’s flexible learning offerings.

8000-8199 ONLINE Introductory courses which have no prerequisites
8200-8399 ONLINE Intermediate courses; primarily for Masters students
8400-8499 ONLINE Advanced courses for Masters and Doctoral students

Evening and Weekend Courses

PSR and the other schools of the GTU offer Master’s level courses on evenings and weekends. Designed for seminarians and other Master’s-level students, these courses can also be taken by those seeking continuing education. Their scheduling makes them particularly appropriate for those who are currently serving congregations or working full time.

If you are interested in taking one of these courses as part of one of PSR’s degree programs, please contact the Admissions Office for more information.

If you are interested in taking one particular course as a stand-alone class, you have two options:

  • You can audit the course: auditing gives you a chance to participate in a PSR course of your choice. You do not receive academic credits or a grade. Each instructor determines the ways their auditors are expected to participate in the course, but auditors usually do not write papers or take examinations. If you are interested in auditing a course, please contact the Registrar.
  • You can apply for Special Student Status. If you are not enrolled in a degree of certificate program at PSR, Special Student Status allows you to take a maximum of two classes per semester for academic credit. Special students are not eligible for financial aid or for PSR housing. Please note that if you have already graduated from a degree or certificate program at PSR, you may register as an alumna/us rather than as a special student.

The deadline to submit a complete Special Student application is two weeks prior to the beginning of the semester.

To see a complete list of PSR’s evening and weekend course offerings, consult the GTU course catalog.

Courses are taught by core PSR and GTU faculty and trusted adjunct faculty. Online faculty have been trained in the art and technology of teaching online and are supported through the Graduate Theological Union (GTU)Library and IT department.

Video Tutorials for Flex Learners

Many more videos about registration, student life, and other PSR topics.
(click on the “Recordings” tab from the new student orientation page)

Campus Offices

All campus offices are prepared to welcome students in Flexible Learning programs to PSR and help them achieve their academic and ministerial goals. Faculty and staff are available by phone, email, chat and/or web conference.

Academic Advising: The Assistant Dean and Registrar can assist with course selection and planning progress through academic requirements and milestones.

Faculty Advisor: Each student enrolled in a certificate or degree program is assigned a faculty advisor from the core PSR faculty. The advisor is there to help you with both academic and vocational planning and progress.

Library: All PSR students are eligible to receive GTU library cards and access to rich online research resources.  Reference (research assistance) services are available online, by phone or email, as well as in-person. PSR Distance students should receive email from the PSR registrar letting them know their barcode is ready. Email the GTU Library at library@gtu.edu for your barcode number needed to access online resources.

Student Life: The Director of Student Life and Spiritual Care is aware of the special needs of Flexible Learning students and strives to include and engage them in the broad array of possible campus activities.

Campus Pastors:  Campus pastors are available to Flexible Learning students for pastoral care by phone, videoconference, or in person.

Technical Assistance: Library staff are prepared to help with questions about Moodle, the learning system used by most GTU courses.  The Moodle support email address is moodle@gtu.edu.  Your instructor will refer you to the most appropriate assistance for particular issues related to your course.  Also, see the Technology Guide for Flex Students.

For non-Moodle technology questions you may contact the PSR IT Helpdesk during business hours at (510) 849-8204 or techsupport@psr.edu.

General Assistance & Support: The Office of Community & Continuing Education is the Flexible Learning home base. The Director is available to assist Flex students with online learning and technology questions, navigating PSR from afar, and connecting to PSR and GTU resources.