A seminary education should be available to anyone who is called to ministry. Sometimes it's not practical or possible to relocate in order to attend seminary. Commitments to jobs, family, church or meeting, or other things may prevent people from moving in order to pursue their studies.
ESR Access addresses the needs of these people. Full-time Access students can earn both the M.Div./M.Min. degree or the M.A. in Religion, by taking a combination of online courses and two-week intensive courses at ESR in Richmond, IN. Courses are taught by regular ESR faculty, and adhere to the same standards as residential courses.
Degrees earned through Access are fully accredited by ATS. We also offer Access classes to Occasional Students.
Access Distance Classes
Students encounter the same academic demand in distance classes as they do in the classroom. Those who excel in distance learning are motivated, self-disciplined, and active and independent learners. They are able to manage their time effectively in order to complete class assignments, and actively participate in online discussions. Successful online students also have strong written communication skills, and are able to clearly organize and articulate their thoughts in a concise manner.
Classroom discussions are an important part of learning. In the same way, online discussions are a critical component of a successful online class. Instructors not only teach, but facilitate exchanges that help students learn from one another.
Basic computer literacy is helpful in order to succeed in distance classes, but it is not essential. Technology aids learning, but it isn't the focus. Much of what students need to know about distance learning tools is taught in a technology orientation.
The two-week intensive class allows students to satisfy residency requirements and to participate in campus life without moving to Richmond, IN. We offer two-week intensive classes three times a year: August, January and May.
Preparation for an intensive class starts long before arrival in Richmond. A class syllabus guides students. Typically, they will read much of the required texts; they might be required to write reflections or research specific topics in advance of the class.
Classes meet for 3-1/2 hours Monday to Friday, for two weeks. Classes are not held on the weekend between, and some students may choose to return home though we encourage them to remain in Richmond and participate in the ESR community. Following the two weeks students will have several weeks to complete a final project or term paper to complete the requirements of the course.
Academic Support and Resources
ESR supports Access learning by providing resources that meet the unique needs of students in the program.
ESR online courses are delivered through the Moodle course management software. During the initial intensive course, students are given an orientation and training for Moodle and other technology resources.
Research is an essential part of the ESR Access education. Earlham's Lilly Library provides:
- A Document Delivery service that will send books to you – your only cost is return shipping.
- Photocopied articles through interlibrary loan of journals not available online.
- Through WorldCat, you can search the OCLC listing of books in U.S. libraries. Most likely you can then make an interlibrary loan request through your public library.
- Academic databases (ATLA, Academic Elite, JSTOR) with access to numerous journals in the fields related to the study of religion and theology, many of which journals are available in full-text. You will also have access to other databases like reference works (OED, Oxford References Online, Encycopedia Britannica) and digital libraries (NetLibrary, Early English Books Online).
The Digital Quaker Collection is a freely-accessible site from Earlham School of Religion. It was created primarily to serve the needs of ESR Access students who are not on campus to take advantage of the excellent Friends Collection in Lilly Library.
Online courses at ESR are conducted through the Moodle course management software. Students do not need to be available at a certain time on particular days. There are also opportunities for synchronous learning through audio/video chat software. Computer requirements for participation in ESR Access are not demanding. Students need a recent computer with an up-to-date Web browser, reliable broadband Internet access, and office productivity software like Microsoft Office, Open Office, or Google Docs.
Accommodations for Access Students
Students who take the Introduction to Spiritual Formation class as a gateway to the ESR Access M.Div./M.Min. program are required to stay at the Quaker Hill Conference Center. Special arrangements are made during the two weeks for students in this class to have some meals together and engage in community-building activities.
Students are responsible for the arrangement and cost of their own housing and meals during the intensive. Many students continue to stay at the Quaker Hill Conference Center during two-week intensives. Lauramoore House, which is located near the ESR campus, offers comfortable accommodations for students visiting for intensives.
Other accommodations are available in the Richmond area. The Wayne County Community Network Association web site maintains a lodging guide as well as a guide to local restaurants. Students quickly become acclimated to the area and coordinate meals together as well as share transportation.
How to Get Started
The Director of Admissions will notify you of the admissions committee's response to your application. If you are accepted, you will be mailed a confirmation request. If you decide to enroll as a student at Earlham School of Religion in the ESR Access program, return the confirmation card with the $125 confirmation fee.
Please be aware that there are admissions & registration deadlines. The intensive courses will require course work prior to the two-week class period and following it. Therefore, get your application materials submitted in advance of the registration deadline for the course and be prepared to begin work weeks before the intensive.