Field Education remains a cornerstone of the Master of Divinity curriculum at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. We believe that deep learning occurs not only through readings and classroom experiences, but also through the very practice of ministry. By doing, reflecting on that doing with peers and mentors, and then going back to do again, we learn more about God, ourselves, and our communities.
Welcome to Field Education at Louisville Seminary
Field Education Director Marcus Hong and Administrative Assistant Laura March are eager to guide you through the joys and challenges (and paperwork!) of Field Education. All incoming MDiv students must attend a morning of Orientation to Field Education.
If you have any questions, or would just like to meet us, come see us on the first floor of Schlegel Hall, offices 103 and 104, or contact us by email or phone.
Louisville Seminary supports a variety of opportunities to serve in ministry. (If you are reading this and you are interested in becoming a Field Education Site, please view the Supervisors section.) Students are able to work in unique agency placements, such as the VA Medical Center, Baptist Health Floyd, Hosparus, nursing homes, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) offices, campus ministry, and more. Congregational placements in churches spanning many denominations are reserved for second-year students who have completed several vital introductory courses during their first year. Other, more intensive full-time experiences, including Clinical Pastoral Education in a hospital, summer-time intensives, and year-long internships are also available after the first year of coursework.
ALL incoming MDiv students must make an appointment to meet with the Field Education Director during the month of January. A major part of our work at the Field Ed Office involves getting to know each of you individually, exploring your past leadership experiences, your vision for future ministry, and your personal learning goals. Please schedule this interview with Laura March.
Before we meet, ALL MDiv students must complete and return the Biographical Sketch 2018–19 (click to access), which will help you to reflect on your vocation, and will jump start our conversation. You can submit this biographical sketch at any time over the summer, but it must be submitted at least 24 hours before our meeting so the Director can read it.
May God richly bless you in life and ministry! We look forward to meeting you.
Field Education Basics
Field Education Program Goals
Field education is an integral part of preparation for ministry at Louisville Seminary. Through supervised experiences in congregations and agencies, the student has an opportunity to:
- develop basic skills in the practice of ministry;
- clarify and focus the sense of call;
- discern specific gifts for ministry;
- integrate theology and theory with experience;
- develop pastoral identity and character;
- build a network of persons (ordained and lay) who can serve as references as the student seeks a first call and who can continue to be mentors during early years in ministry.
Students at Louisville Seminary experience a wide variety of opportunities for field education. Louisville Seminary requires four units of field education for the MDiv degree program. Two of these units must be in a Congregational setting; the other two units can be in an Agency, Congregation, or Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). See “Varieties of Field Experience” for more information on these and other options.
While not required, some first year students might want to consider an Agency Placement, in order to explore an area of ministry. Most students postpone field education until their second and third years, to concentrate on academic work the first year. Congregational placements are reserved for second and third year students who have completed basic biblical and theological courses. One unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), which is required by many church traditions for ordination, can fulfill the requirement for two units of Field Education.
Field Education during the academic year is a 34 week, continuing experience. Sixteen (16) hours of work each week for a semester is required for a unit of field education. Full-time work for ten weeks in the summer gives two units of field education.
Stipends and Payment
A stipend is provided for approved agency and congregational field education positions. If the congregation or agency is unable to pay the full stipend, the seminary may provide a stipend subsidy. However if the student continues for a second year at the same site, the seminary will not subsidize the second year.
No stipends are paid to students taking CPE. However the seminary will pay a local supervision fee for the first unit of CPE. If a student chooses to take a unit of CPE outside of Louisville, the seminary will pay the unit/tuition fee of that unit up to the amount of the current local supervision fee for the first unit of CPE. The seminary will not pay application or interview fees for CPE taken outside of Louisville. (See the Field Education Handbook for more information).
Varieties of Field Experience
Congregational Staff Positions
Field Education in a congregational setting is provided for the student in a congregation where there is a pastor trained in supervision and willing to partner with the seminary. This is a part-time placement (14 hours per week), and is required for the MDiv degree.
The congregational position provides experience in a broad range of pastoral work including worship leadership, preaching, pastoral care, mission, Christian education, youth, and administration. Because such positions require biblical, theological, and pastoral understandings, these positions are open only to second and third year students.
Church Supply Positions
Students who already serve as full or part-time pastors in a congregation are required to engage in a year of field education with supervision. Ordinarily this year of required supervision is done during the second year of seminary. Their current place of ministry may be used as the site. They will be required to work concurrently with an individual supervisor provided by their denomination or in group supervision with a supervisor provided by the seminary.
After successfully completing the two units of PTC and the year of supervised ministry, the student may be given two additional field education credits for previous ministry work. See the Field Education Handbook for more information.
At Louisville Seminary, most Field Education experiences, which are part-time, are called “placements.” Full-time experiences (40 hours per week) are called “internships.” For students who wish to take a year’s full-time internship, the Field Education Office provides information on congregations and agencies qualified to work with a student. The internship is open to students who have satisfactorily completed three semesters of academic work and two units of field experience.
A three (3) credit independent study must be completed during the internship. Upon returning from such an intensive experience, students usually find themselves highly motivated for the remainder of their academic preparation. They are also guided by a clearer understanding of areas in which they need to do further work. More information can be found in the Field Education Handbook.
Students work in various agencies such as retirement and nursing facilities, social agencies, and social issue related ministries.
A limited number of field education placements are available with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Center where students work in various divisions and program agencies and gain a national perspective through working with experienced servants of the church.
Clinical Pastoral Education
CPE provides another category of field experience. The Field Education office strongly recommends that each student take advantage of the opportunity for a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at some point during the seminary career. Some denominations require CPE. This training facilitates the clarification of pastoral identity and the development of skills for ministry in times of personal crisis. See the Field Education Handbook for more information.
Information in this section of the Field Education site will be most helpful for current students engaging in Field Education, as well as their supervisors.
The Field Education Handbook contains all of our policies and procedures, as well as tips and tools for surviving Field Education paperwork, and a current calendar. It is updated every summer.
“Paperwork Required of All Field Education Students” contains brief information about the necessary paperwork, as well as links to that paperwork.
“Field Education Forms” contains all of the potential forms a student will need, including the required paperwork, as well as paperwork for specialized situations, including timesheets, mileage logs, and a previous ministry form, for students who have engaged in significant previous ministry experiences (for more information on this, see the Field Education Handbook).
“Supervisors and Locations” contains information for potential Field Education supervisors and sites.
“Available Positions” contains information about our available Field Education Placements.
Supervision and Evaluation
The Field Education Supervisor is a vital resource for students. In the weekly supervisory conference with these practicing professionals, the student reflects upon concrete segments of his or her work and engages in planning for future learning. Because of the importance of the Field Education Supervisor’s role, the Director of Field Education offers training annually for new supervisors and continuing education through the Supervisory Studies Program.
The Seminary depends upon the Field Education Supervisor to provide on-going feedback to the student and to work with the student in a final evaluation at the end of each unit of training. This process begins at the start of the unit as the student and supervisor together establish a Learning Covenant, clarify areas of responsibility and set criteria for evaluation. A copy of the final evaluation is normally shared with the student’s faculty advisor and the appropriate governing body of the denomination to which the student is related. The Director of Field Education is available for consultation in the event that problems arise in relation to the student’s work. With early negotiation, serious problems can often be averted.
Supervisory Studies Program
An important part of Field Education is participation by both student and supervisor in either the Supervisory Studies Programs which are held at 9:30 a.m. on the first Monday of October, November, March, and April for agencies or in the supervisors and student’s sessions of the Practical Theology in Congregations course. During these times students and supervisors explore tools for deepening the supervisory relationship and for theological reflection.
Become a Field Education Site
Agencies and Congregations seeking to become field education sites are required to interview with the Director of Field Education. The Supervisor must participate in a supervisory training session. The site must also submit:
- Ministry Site Information Form 18–19
- A Stipend (Congregations) OR Payment (Agencies) Agreement
- A Congregational OR Agency Supervisory Covenant
There are no available positions at this time.
Paperwork Required of All Field Education Students
The list below includes the basic paperwork required of all MDiv Field Education students at Louisville Seminary. The Field Ed Office encourages the prompt completion of this paperwork in order to reward Field Education units required for the MDiv program.
All MDiv students must complete and submit the following before and during their Field Education placements, except for those in CPE, who must submit a Field Education Registration Form and Sexual Misconduct Form at the beginning and their CPE Evaluation (from their CPE site) at the end of their placement.
- Brief Biographical Sketch – due at the beginning of the seminary journey and revised before every Field Education Placement.
- Sexual Misconduct Form – due before beginning any Field Education Placement.
- Field Education Registration Form – due two weeks before the beginning of each semester a student engages in Field Education. Without the form the registrar cannot place field education on the transcript.
- Administrative Agreement and Learning Covenant – due the third week in September, the third week in January, and for summer placements, the first week of June. Due dates are listed in the “Field Education Calendar.”
- Student and Supervisor Evaluation Forms – due the last week of the fall semester, the last week of the spring semester, and for summer placements the first week of September. Due dates are listed in the “Field Education Calendar.”
- Nurturing Committee Evaluation – included with the student and supervisor evaluations in congregational placements.
Other forms for specialized situations can be found in the Field Education Forms section of this site.
If the submission of the required semester Evaluation Form and other required work exceeds the deadline by more than two weeks, the student will automatically receive a failing grade for that semester of Field Education. A student receiving two failing grades in Field Education is terminated as an MDiv degree candidate. Extensions may be granted for doctor certified medical reasons or for other extenuating circumstances, if approved by the Director of Field Education or the Dean of the Seminary. Persistent tardiness in the submission of required paperwork may be noted in the Director’s attached comments on the semester Evaluation Form.
When a student’s evaluation for a unit of field education is marginal or failing, a conference with the Field Education Director is mandatory. A student receiving two failing evaluations is terminated as an MDiv degree candidate.
Field Ed Calendar
A two-page printable calendar with important dates and deadlines for the current academic year can be downloaded here: Field Education Calendar 2020–2021.