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Distance Education FAQs

General FAQs

What online degrees does PRTS offer?

Currently, PRTS does not have a degree program that can be completed entirely online. We do, however, have certificate programs and online language courses that are available entirely online. Students are permitted to earn up to 50% of a degree’s credits via our distance education courses. At least half of the courses towards any of our degree program, however, must be completed on our campus.

Can I complete a ThM from a distance?

Yes. At least one-half of the coursework towards the ThM must be completed through on-campus classes (modular or intensive-style courses qualify as on-campus courses). As many of the ThM courses are offered via modular format (usually intensive week-long courses), this means the accepted ThM student does not have to relocate to complete the ThM program. Completion of the program will require, however, a number of week-long trips back and forth to Grand Rapids.

Can the residency requirement for the MA or MDiv degrees be fulfilled by intensive or modular classes?

No. While much of the MA or MDiv can be completed from a distance, and some courses can be taken as intensive courses, most of the MA and MDiv courses are offered as semester-long classes. You should count on at least 3 semesters of full-time on-campus work for the MA degree, and at least 5 semesters for the MDiv degree.

How can I obtain books and articles needed for courses I am taking?

PRTS students in the USA and Canada who are currently registered as distance education students are able to borrow books from the PRTS library and to have them mailed to their home.  They are responsible for return postage and must observe the usual loan periods (4 weeks from receipt of books, though they may also renew books online or by email).

Journal articles may be requested from Primo or any of our databases using the links within the databases and the Office 365 credentials received when first enrolled as a student at PRTS.  If requesting articles from our print journal collection, please email the librarian ( to request the pdf article.

Distance students may also check out books through the Association of Christian Librarians’ Reciprocal Borrowing Program or the Association of Theological Libraries’ Reciprocal Borrowing Program. If a participating library is located near your home, you are able to borrow books there as long as you have an authorization form from PRTS filled out. Authorization forms are available by request from the William Perkins library and can be emailed to interested students. For further information, contact William Perkins Library staff (

Distance students who are Michigan residents are encouraged to use MeLCat (Michigan’s eLibrary catalog).  A Michigan public library card is all you need to request books this way.

Interlibrary loan requests for books are often more efficient when processed through the distance education student’s local library, though we are happy to provide research assistance in finding books as requested.


FAQs for Online Courses

What is an online course?
PRTS’s online courses offer the most flexibility to our distance learners. Since these courses are not synchronous with an on-campus course, there are no set meeting times which the students must observe. The student moves through the course on a weekly schedule and interacts with the other students around a common body of instruction.

What can I expect to see in an online course?
Students will learn from recorded lectures, readings, worksheets, and online quizzes. Throughout the entire course, there are weekly discussions in which both the students and the instructors participate bringing the students together and giving each one the opportunity to learn from the experience and knowledge of others.

Will I ever need to be on-campus in such a course?

Are there any synchronous elements to this course?
No. If a student desires to contact a professor, he can do so during that professor’s posted office hours.

How will I interact with the professor?
You will have weekly contact with the professor in the discussion forums. If you need to speak directly to him, you can call him during his posted office hours.

FAQs for Live-streamed Courses

What is a live-streamed course?
PRTS opens certain courses to distance students.  These courses appear on our course schedule and the classes occur at pre-determined meeting times. Using video-conferencing, students can take these courses from a distance.

What can I expect in a live-streamed course?
In these courses, the student will follow the same requirements set out in the course syllabus exactly as the on-campus students do.  He will attend class, meet the same deadlines, contribute to group discussions, and at times participate in the actual class itself.  The only difference is that the student is not in the physical classroom; he participates via video conference.

Will I ever need to be on-campus in such a course?

How will I interact with the professor?
If you need to speak directly to him, you can call him during his posted office hours.

FAQs for Independent Studies

What can I expect in an independent study?
Because the standards and deadlines for these courses are arranged between the overseeing professor and the student, they vary from course to course. Typically the student will listen to recorded lectures taking notes as he goes. Then the student will write a research paper and possibly a book review. Most of these courses have a midterm and final exam. The original language courses are also independent studies, but they work somewhat differently. Online language classes are broken down into lessons, each with their own assignment, vocabulary quiz, and grammar quiz.

How long do I have to complete an independent study?
Students enrolled in an online language course have one year to complete the course.  In all other independent studies, the student is given six months to complete the course.

What is the difference between an online course and an independent study?
In an online course, the student participates in an actual class of students who are taking the same course at the same time and following the same weekly schedule.  In an independent study, the student conducts research independently and apart from an actual class of students.

Still have questions about Distance Education?