“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 mode), intensive, and evening/weekend courses that allow you to study with renowned PSR faculty and other students without leaving home, job, or family. These options are ideal for distance students who live outside commuting range to the Berkeley campus.

Flexible Learning options include:

  • Online courses are taught with simple, robust technology.
  • Hybrid courses blend 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, except 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.

PSR’s Flexible Learning Program offers multi-modal opportunities to earn academic credit toward a certificate or degree or simply to take a course or two for personal or professional development. Options include:

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. TEL follows in the tradition of PSR’s Certificate of Ministry Studies program.

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

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.

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.


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. Contact the Office of Community Life.

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 IT, support@endsight.net

  • PSR Student Services
    • Admissions   Contact PSR Admissions for any questions related to applying and admission to PSR programs, adding programs or transferring from one program to another.  You can reach the Admissions office people by email at admissions@psr.edu or by phone at 800/999-0528 toll-free or 510/849-8931.
    • Matriculation – Getting a Web Advisor ID and password (comes from IT).  When a student has turned in an Intent to Enroll Form, the Registrar sends IT the student’s name and IT assigns a Web Advisor ID and password (that also provides access to Moodle).  If students find they do not have or have forgotten their PSR ID number, they can contact IT for assistance at support@endsight.net or the PSR Registrar registrar@psr.edu.
    • Getting a student ID card   https://psr.edu/identification-and-library-cards/   Video about this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1O5VeEx5HQ  Students can follow this procedure once they have a PSR student ID.
    • Getting a ses.psr.edu email account   http://www.gtulink.edu/Home/student-email-accounts . These email accounts are created when a student receives Web Advisor ID and password.  When the ses.psr.edu email account is created, the PSR IT office sends the student an email notification with instructions about how to access and use it.
    • Financial Aid help https://psr.edu/financial-aid/  For help contact financialaid@psr.edu
    • Paying Tuition, payment plans, etc.   Information about Tuition amounts and payment methods is on the PSR website at https://psr.edu/tuition-and-fees/   Video instructions using Web Advisor http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-pFzY5STqI
    • Registering for a class   https://psr.edu/academics/registration/   Video about Registration process   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-1_PS1BvZI
    • Sonis help  If you need help with anything related to Sonis, contact the PSR Registrar at registrar@psr.edu. Your email will be answered within a day.  If you need urgent help, you can reach the registrar through the PSR Dean’s Office at 510-849-8233 (Monday –Friday 8:30-4:00 Pacific Time).
    • ADA accommodation   https://psr.edu/accessibility/ describes the federal legal requirement and there are tabs for resources available for students with particular disabilities as well as a tab describing the procedures for requesting accommodation.
    • Changing registration   https://psr.edu/registration/  click on the Change Registration tab for instructions about changing grading option, dropping or adding a course.  A video demonstrating how to do this in Web Advisor is found at this link – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvyKk071Xag   Even though this is about changing a grading option, it also shows how to drop or add a course.  After the second week of the semester, a fee may be assessed for changes.  For Registration help contact registrar@psr.edu.
    • Signing up for SRC 9999 or SRC 8888 courses   Basic Information about special Reading courses is found at https://psr.edu/academics/registration/special-reading-courses/  including toward the end of the page instructions about how to register for an SRC 9999 course and a link to the form you need to submit in addition to registering in Web Advisor.
    • Transferring credits you take at another school to your PSR degree.  To transfer credits you may have already taken to a PSR degree you will find information and instructions at https://psr.edu/academics/student-policies/transfer-credits/ .  If you are a distance student and want to take an appropriate course from an educational institution near you, follow that school’s procedure for admission as a special student and register and pay for the course through that school. When you are finished, follow the procedure outlined in the information above to transfer the credit to PSR using this form: https://psr.edu/wpcontent/uploads/2015/10/Petition_to_Transfer_Coursework_Advanced_Standing.pdf .  The PSR Registrar can assist you with this process and can be reached at  registrar@psr.edu.  PSR has special arrangements with certain schools to facilitate the process of taking courses at those schools.  If you are in Berkeley, the schools with which we have such agreements are U. C. Berkeley, Holy Names College, Mills College, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, and Dominican University.  Information about registration for a course at one of these schools is found at the end of the PSR registration webpage: https://psr.edu/registration/.
    • Participation in PSR events like Chapel or Lectures    Check the PSR webpage www.psr.edu for information about live streaming of events at PSR.
    • Pastoral Care or Spiritual Direction   https://psr.edu/current-students/student-life/health-and-wellness/.
    • Help with writing/ESL editing https://psr.edu/writing-center/
    • PSR IT help for email problems or technology/software advice/support to be ready for online courses – Contact support@endsight.net.  You can find tutorials online about the software you need to use often by Googling the question or looking in YouTube.  They can either be video demonstrations or pages you read.  If you are having trouble, contact Tech Support at PSR and they may be able to advise you.
    • Contacting Advisor/Faculty or problems contacting Advisor/Faculty – it is usually best to contact your advisor or a faculty member by email to set up a time to talk in person, by phone, or by video conference.  Faculty teaching courses you are enrolled in will have their contact information in the syllabus for the course.  You can find the email addresses of PSR faculty members in the Faculty Director on the PSR webpage:  www.psr.edu/faculty. Then either click on the picture of the faculty member you are trying to reach or click on the tab labeled Faculty and Staff Directory and scroll down to the faculty member you wish to reach. PSR faculty members have a lot of responsibilities and cannot always answer your email right away.  You can usually expect an answer within a day, but not on weekends or evenings.  If you experience difficulties contacting a faculty member contact the Dean’s administrative assistant who will probably be able to help you.  You can send an email to deansoffice@psr.edu.
    • Health Insurance   Information about health insurance is available at this link: https://psr.edu/health-insurance-plan-for-students-hips/.
  • Library
    • Getting a library card   https://psr.edu/identification-and-library-cards/.  A video about accessing the library, buying textbooks and getting readers and getting library cards is available at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1O5VeEx5HQ.
    • Access the online resources at the GTU Library    You access the online materials at the GTU library by means of the Library website www.gtu.edu/library , distance students will need a Library ID number.  In the first two weeks of each semester, the PSR registrar sends the GTU Library Access Services department a list of all verified PSR online students with student ID number. When contacting the GTU Library for services, be sure to give you full legal name and the seven-digit ID number. If you require a photo library ID card for other reasons besides library resource access, you will need to either attend Orientation and take your picture for your photo ID library card during designated Orientation times or email the GTU Registrar to set up an appointment where you can come in person to take your photo for the photo ID card. If you have any difficulties accessing the online resources at the GTU library, contact the library help desk at http://gtu.edu/library/get-help/reference-desk.
    • Using Interlibrary Loan to get a book from GTU library      GTU participates in domestic lending on the OCLC network. This network uses the WorldCat online catalog. A tutorial on how to use this service is located here http://libguides.gtu.edu/c.php?g=417949&p=2848571. Students are encouraged to access Inter Library Loan services from any local library they are able to gain membership with. PLEASE NOTE. Libraries using the OCLC network each follow their own policies and procedures including checkout duration, fees, and preferred borrowing institutions. This means that libraries may NOT choose to borrow resources for the GTU and opt to borrow from institutions they are more comfortable working with. As a result of the OCLC structure the lending library determines access and terms for material they lend. Due to these constraints the GTU Library is not currently able to guarantee transactions to students via Inter Library Loan.
    • Accessing Reference Librarian assistance http://gtu.edu/library/get-help/reference-desk . This page has several ways to access Reference Desk assistance.  As a distance student you can call in during the hours posted here or you can send an email to the reference librarians using the address provided or clicking on the Ask a Librarian link.  The library has tutorials about all aspects of library research at http://libguides.gtu.edu/
    • Help using online catalogue and databaseshttp://libguides.gtu.edu/start provides information about how to use the library catalogues and other research databases.  You can use WorldCat to find books at libraries closer to you if you are a distance student.  There is a video demonstration about WorldCat in this library guide.
    • Accessing Moodle – The Moodle platform used by PSR and GTU courses is found at http://moodle.gtu.edu/ Using your Web Advisor ID and password, log in as a user using the box on the upper left part of the page.  If you have any questions or want to learn how to do something in Moodle, a good place to start is this Student Help Page for Moodle: http://gtu.edu/library/studentmoodle.  If you have forgotten your log in information, use the log in box to click on the Lost Password link to receive log in information.  If these resources do not help with your problem, contact the GTU Moodle Help desk through moodle@gtu.edu or by phone (510) 649-2510 during the Moodle Support office hours as posted on the http://moodle.gtu.edu  home page.
  • Distance Education Support and Advice
    • How to be a good distance student – motivation, time management, collegiality, access to help.  PSR has a video describing some strategies for being a successful distance student.   https://vimeo.com/150960656 is a good basic video.  The help information at the end is not accurate for Fall 2016.  If you are having difficulty as a distance student, pay attention to the nature of your problem and first see if one of the items in this list will be of help to you.  If your problem is a general problem with distance learning, you may want to speak with your advisor or faculty members teaching online courses you may be taking.  There is also a good short course for students new to online learning offered by GTU Moodle.  The link to that course is called Orientation to Online Learning, http://moodle.gtu.edu/enrol/index.php?id=474. Email moodle@gtu.edu for enrollment instructions. When you click on the course link, you will be prompted to give your Moodle login information.
    • What kind of technology and software is necessary?   The specific technologies PSR uses in distance learning are outlined in the video https://vimeo.com/150960656.   Make use of online tutorials and YouTube videos about using particular kinds of software or solving particular problems using software.  Contact techsupport@psr.edu for assistance with technology.  They can get busy at the beginning of a semester, so be patient about a reply.  They may also refer you to other sources of help.
    • Strategies for time management – Good strategies for general online learning time management can be found at these links:  http://www.elearners.com/education-resources/online-learning/time-management-for-online-learners/  This link has lots of information and ideas to offer.
    • http://www.straighterline.com/blog/8-time-management-tips-adult-college-students/  This link has a concise checklist of the major helpful strategies.
    • http://bestonlineuniversities.com/7-important-time-management-tips-for-online-students/  This link contains suggestions for success that are not mentioned in the other sites.
    • Strategies for contacting other students.   Being a Distance Student can be lonely.  There are several ways to contact other students at PSR. Students often relate first to the other students they know in class.  If your course has a Moodle page, on the left hand side you will find a navigation bar.  One of the links there is Participants.  Clicking on this link will bring you a list of the students in the course.  If you click on the name of a student you will be able to send a message to that person.  Just as you might in a face to face class, it is OK to be in touch with your fellow students just to make friends, to ask a question about how they are approaching something in the class, to comment on anything else that you might bring up with another student.  You can contact the Community Life office about other options:  CAPSR is the PSR Student organization https://psr.edu/community-association-of-psr-and-student-groups/, and Rev. Ann Jefferson is the Director of Community Life, ajefferson@psr.edu.   If you are a Facebook user, there is a PSR Student Facebook page.