Courses in Vocational and Spiritual Exploration provide a spiritual dimension to a person’s life and career exploration. According to James Fowler, “Vocation is the response a person makes with his or her total self to the address of God and to the calling to partnership.”  VSE courses are open to all students regardless of academic major and are designed for personal spiritual growth.

The VSE program also serves as a pre-professional program for students considering religious, public, or humanitarian service as a primary career.  As such, VSE complements other rich programs offered at Jewell, including, but certainly not limited to, service learning, health-related programs of study, education, and non-profit leadership. The VSE program involves 6 credit hours of course work plus a major or minor from the Department of Religion.  A major or minor in Religion is required because we believe that an understanding of the role of religion in private and public life is crucial for one to engage in meaningful spiritual growth and to be most effective in the world of religious, public, or humanitarian service. A semester-long, supervised internship is required that includes a weekly peer group and significant personal reflection. Participation in the VSE program includes a Talent/Co-curricular Financial Award that is subject to the rules and regulations governing financial assistance.

The VSE Program is for students of any major who are in one of the following categories:

  • wanting to learn and practice a variety of skills involved in a career in religious, humanitarian or public service;
  • planning on pursuing a career in a church-, synagogue- or mosque-related vocation;
  • planning on being involved in religious, public or humanitarian service as a volunteer;
  • planning on attending seminary, rabbinical school or other graduate-level education that is related to a career in religious, humanitarian or public service; or
  • considering post-graduate short-term or vocational missions or humanitarian or public service

Participation in the VSE program involves the following requirements:

  • Be accepted into the program on recommendation of the VSE program director.
  • Make progress toward a major or a minor in religion.
  • Successfully complete VSE 201, Finding One’s Calling, during the first fall semester in the program.
  • Successfully complete VSE 203, Vocational and Spiritual Exploration Internship.
  • Successfully complete two of the following: VSE 205, 209 or 211.
  • Maintain active involvement in a campus religious or service organization, including Jewell Chapel.
  • Participate in a service project at least once per semester or be employed/ involved in a local faith or philanthropic community.

Students interested in the VSE program should contact Dr. Andy Pratt, VSE Program Director.

Hester Scholars
Each year, one or two students are named Hester Scholars. This distinction is awarded to a student participating in the VSE program, majoring in religion and preparing for a career in religious, public, or humanitarian service and who excels in scholarship, service and leadership.

To qualify as a Hester Scholar, students should be in the top 25% of their high school graduating class; demonstrate evidence of leadership in their educational and religious or public/humanitarian service communities; agree to major in the study of religion; and state their commitment to professional service through  ministry, teaching, missions or other significant humanitarian or public service. The Talent/Co-curricular Financial Award for a Hester Scholar is more significant than the VSE award.

In addition to being accepted into the VSE program, Hester applicants will submit an essay on the topic, “What role do you see your program of study at Jewell playing in your preparation for a professional career devoted to religious, humanitarian or public service?” An on-campus interview with the Department of Religion is highly recommended. Students who would like to be considered for a Hester Scholar award should contact Dr. Brad Chance, Chair of the Department or Religion. Hester Scholars are determined by the faculty of the Department of Religion.

While the VSE program is intended to include all students who wish to pursue a vocation in religious, humanitarian, or public service, whether as a full-time professional or as a volunteer, we recognize and affirm that many students will want to continue their education by attending seminary or rabbinical school. We offer the following guidance for such students.

Pre-Seminary/Rabbinical School Study
William Jewell College follows closely the recommendations of the American Association of Theological Schools on pre-seminary/rabbinical school study. A summary of college recommendations follows.

Recommendations for Pre-Seminary/Rabbinical School Studies
William Jewell College follows closely the recommendations of the American Association of Theological Schools on pre-seminary/rabbinical school study. A summary of college recommendations follows.
Skills and Mindset

  • Communication skills: writing and speaking.
  • Ability to think critically.
  • Appreciation for the Abrahamic traditions while remaining attentive to one’s own and others’ experiences.
  • Awareness of growing sense of moral responsibility, both personal and social.
  • Awareness of the world and its complexities.

Information Base

  • A fundamental understanding of the tools and methods of biblical interpretation.
  • A basic grasp of biblical history and the Judeo-Christian heritage.
  • An awareness of the theological and biblical resources that shape Judeo-Christian ethics.
  • Familiarity with the historical, philosophical, and literary developments of Western civilization.
  • Awareness of religious traditions beyond the Jewish and Christian traditions.
  • A basic competence in Greek syntax, grammar and reading skills.
  • Some basic hands-on experience in ministry (through the VSE program).

Subjects in Pre-Seminary Study
By combining their study in the Department of Religion with a complementary area of study at William Jewell, students will be better prepared for the significant learning experiences of seminary and for the field of service to which they have been called. The religion and culture major normally requires 26 to 29 hours. These requirements often leave enough time to pursue another area of study to provide a solid liberal arts base for seminary or rabbinical study.

Possible combinations follow:

  • for pastoral ministry –  religion + literature or history
  • for sacred/liturgical music –  religion + music
  • for family-life programs/recreation –  religion + recreation & sport
  • for evangelism –  religion + communication
  • for mission field –  religion + foreign language
  • for faith-related counseling –  religion + psychology
  • for denominational service –  religion + business

General Information
All pre-seminary/rabbinical students should have a professor in the Department of Religion serve as an academic advisor throughout their course of study. When a major other than religion is chosen, a joint program of advising will be undertaken with a member of the department of major study advising in academic matters pertaining to the major. The double major (religion plus another area) is strongly recommended.