Frequently Asked Questions

Feel free to ask us anything.  Here are some questions we get a lot:

Is the Centre for Christian Studies a church?

No, CCS is a theological school. We are affiliated with the United Church of Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada, and we educate people for ministry within and on behalf of church, but we are first and foremost a school.

Can you explain what CCS is all about in one sentence?

No.  But if I was trying, I would probably use phrases like “contextual theology”, “learning in community”, “adult education”, “action-reflection model”, “integration”, “transformative learning”, “diaconal identity”, and “church in the world.”  If you think you can squeeze those all into one sentence, go for it.

How many students does CCS have?

In a given year there’s generally about 30 students at various stages of the CCS program.  As well there are 20 to 25 people each year who take the 2-week Leadership Development Module

Is the Diploma Program full time?

Yes.  Students taking a Theme Year or Integrating Year are considered full-time equivalent students.

 Do I have to have a university degree to study at CCS?

No.  However, the work at CCS is fairly intense, and you will have to take some external university courses as part of it, so it’s important to be prepared for a certain amount of academic rigour (lots of reading, lots of writing).  If you’re applying to the diaconal training program and you don’t have any university or college experience, we ask you to submit a sample of your writing that demonstrates your ability to express thoughts, analyze ideas, and be self-reflective.

How long does it take to complete the Diploma Program?

The Diploma Program is made up of a Leadership Development Module (2 weeks), 3 Theme Years (1 year each), and an Integrating Year (1 year). You also need to take 8 external courses at another educational institution. Some people manage to do all this in 4 years. Most take a reflection year or two somewhere in the process so they can focus on external courses without also trying to deal with Theme Year assignments and field placements at the same time.

Because the 3 Theme Years are offered on a rotating basis, most people who take Reflection Years do so before or after their 3 Theme Years (otherwise you have to wait three years for that particular Theme Year to come around again).

How much does it cost to do the whole CCS Diploma Program?

Well, let’s do some math. Visit the tuition page and jot down the tuition for an LDM, 3 Theme Years, and an Integrating Year. If you think you’ll take a Reflection Year in there somewhere, jot down that fee too. Add all those up, and maybe add 3% (just to be safe, in case tuition rates go up over the course of your studies). Now factor in costs for travel, accommodations, food, etc. for 9 Learning Circles (estimates further down on the tuition page). Now add the cost of 8 external courses at a university or theological school. (Those rates will vary depending on where you go, but let’s guess something like $600/course.) And then there’s a few thousand dollars for the Global Perspectives Experience. And depending on where you do your Field Placement, there may be some travel costs or incidentals there… So, lots of variable factors, but ballpark you might pay around $40,000 for the whole program.

Is there financial help?

For information on bursaries, Student Loans, and other sources of funding, visit the bursary page.

Do I have to move to Winnipeg?

No. Our students come from all across Canada. During Theme Years and Integrating Years students gather as a group in Winnipeg twice a year for Learning Circles in the Fall and Spring. Each Learning Circle is about two-and-a-half weeks long. The rest of the time students work from their home communities, doing course assignments (which are submitted to Program Staff by email) and engaging in Field Placement learning. Students are encouraged/challenged in their learning by their local committees, their learning facilitators, and their vocational mentors. Program Staff check in with students on a regular basis by phone and email.

Is CCS only for Anglican and United Church students?

No; they’re the majority though.  We’ve also had students who are Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Unitarian, Mennonite and Metropolitan Community Church . CCS is recognized as school for training diaconal ministers by the United Church of Canada, and as a seminary by the Metropolitan Community Church.

Do I have to be a candidate for ministry to attend?

This is primarily a United Church question, but no, it is not necessary to be a recognized candidate for ministry to be a student at CCS. Some people discern a call to diaconal ministry and become candidates for ministry before they come to CCS, some become candidates while they’re at CCS, and some never become candidates.

Isn’t a diaconal minister just a minister who is somewhere between vertical or horizontal?

You’re thinking of “diagonal”. Common mistake.

Will there still be a church by the time I graduate?

Oh, probably. But you’re right, the world is changing and the church is changing, and the institution might look different in the future. As we’re training students for ministry at CCS we try to pay attention to the church as it currently is, but also to prepare people to serve the future church. We also try to prepare students for ministry outside of the church. So while there may be changes to church structures and governance and policy and pay scales, etc., we believe that the skills of service, justice-seeking, and transformation will always be needed.

What kind of work do CCS graduates do?

CCS graduates work in a wide variety of ministries, both inside and outside the church.  Here’s a snapshot of (United Church) grads between 2000-2010 CCS:

  • 73 UCC grads.
  • 53 are currently working in pastoral/congregational settings – 34 rural solo, 16 urban team, and 3 urban solo.
  • 3 are working in community ministry.
  • 3 are working in First Nations communities.
  • 2 are working in youth ministry.
  • 3 are working as Conference staff.
  • 1 has retired.
  • 1 died.
  • 1 is doing further academic studies.
  • 1 is on disability leave.
  • 2 are currently unemployed.
  • 3 were not commissioned (living and working as lay people).

I’m past 40 years old and have been out of school for a long time. Will I fit in?

Wow, you’re old!  Oh wait, no you’re not.  Students at CCS range in age from their early 20’s to their 60’s. Many of the students in the program are at the “second career” stage of life. This is typical for theological students throughout Canada. Inquirers often express some anxiety about returning to a full time program of study after being out of school or home with children for a number of years. Sometimes students use the Leadership Development Module as a way to test out those anxieties. A number of students have come hesitantly to the LDM and have been surprised by how much they enjoyed it, how well they fit in and how much ability and passion for learning has been awakened in them.

Do I have to be a feminist to attend CCS?

You probably don’t need to call yourself a feminist, but you will have to wrestle with questions of justice, gender, and equality.  (Feminist isn’t a bad word, you know.)

I’ve taken a bunch of theology courses already. Do I have to take more?

Some of your previous courses might be eligible to be counted toward your externals requirement. The principal can accept a certain number of external courses at the time of admission.  (Generally theology courses more that 10 years old won’t be accepted.)  You can find more information about externals on the externals page.

It’s not a requirement, but you might want to think about taking at least one theology course (eg. Introduction to Christian Scriptures) prior to starting the CCS program.

Does the CCS program count toward a university degree at CCS?

It can.  CCS has a joint-degree arrangement with the University of Winnipeg and St. Stephen’s College in Edmonton.

Where can I stay during learning circles?  Where can I buy groceries?

Here is an local information sheet for learning circles that take place in Winnipeg (which is most of them).

Do I have to participate in the travel pool?

The travel pool is administered by the students themselves.  Student Forum decides whether or not a all students are expected to take part in a travel pool.

Can I audit the LDM or a Theme Year?

Yes. If you would like to sit in on a learning circle, take part in discussions and activities, but don’t want to do the assignments or get credit, you can audit. See the tuition page for information about auditing costs.

Can I just take one of the Theme Years?

Yes. You can take one of more Theme Year for a Certificate in Pastoral Care, Educational Ministry, or Social Ministry. The LDM is prerequisite for the Certificate program.

Can I work while studying at CCS?

Well, that’s sort of a question of your time-management skills, family and community responsibilities, and energy. You certainly wouldn’t want to work more than half time, and students tell us that if you can afford to focus on your CCS learning without trying to balance a job at the same time it’s probably worth it.

Will I have a Field Placement in my own community?

Quite possibly. A Field Placement is part of each of the Theme Years and focuses on the theme of that year (pastoral care, educational ministry, social ministry). Some Field Placements will be in a congregational setting, some can be in other places (such as senior’s homes, prisons, social service agencies). Students submit Field Placement proposals to Program Staff, and most are able to find a suitable placement close to their home.

Are Field Placements a paid position?

Technically, no. Field Placements are a learning opportunity. However, some people are lucky enough to work in a setting that is appropriate to their learning goals.

In a field placement, the activity needs to be directed by the learning goals of the student. The process of reflecting on the doing is considered part of the field work. If a student is employed, for instance, 15 hours a week doing youth ministry in a congregation, they would have to demonstrate that there was time and room in the job description to meet the learning goals. In a Pastoral Care Year, perhaps one learning goal might focus on youth and peer pressure. In that case, there might well be a way to accomplish both the paid work and the field requirement at the same time. If another learning goal was about expressing a ministry of hope with 80 and 90 year olds, there is not likely going to be room for this work to be done in the youth ministry job description. Then there are options: renegotiate the job description with the employer for that year, trade work assignments with a colleague, volunteer the additional hours on top of the paid work, do the field placement, or part of the field placement in another setting, or combination of the above.

Because the 3 Theme Years have different focuses, it is very unlikely that a student could do all three field placements in the same place.


Website Questions

Can I use the material on the website?

Probably.  A lot of CCS material is Creative Commons. This means you can copy, distribute, or adapt it if you attribute it to Centre for Christian Studies. Essays and articles that are authored by others but are cited on this website are property of their respective authors and permission should be sought to repost or use. (CCS material is licensed through a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License. To view a copy of this licence, visit  this link or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbot Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA.)

How do I find things on the website?

There is a navigation bar with drop-down menus near the top of the page that link to various pages and sections of the website. As well, there is a “search” button at the top of the page.  If there’s something particular you’re looking for but can’t find, let us know.

Something’s not working. Why can’t I open some pages?

There could be a variety of reasons.

  • Some of the links on the website are to PDF documents. To open a PDF document you will need to have a PDF reader installed. You can download one for free from PDF reader from
  • Some links may have become broken. If you discover a link that isn’t working, let us know.
  • The website is built on a WordPress platform, and occasionally there are updates that wreak havoc.  I’m probably working on fixing it, but I may not have noticed, so feel free to let me know.

I found a broken link, out of date info, or typo. What should I do?

We try to keep the website up to date, but sometimes things slip. Let us know what needs to be corrected. If you can be as specific as possible and include the URL of the page where you noticed the mistake, it would be very helpful.


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