University of Dubuque


Frequently Asked Questions

When Jesus called his disciples, he simply said, "Follow me" (Mark 1:17). When he sent them out, he advised them to "take nothing for the journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics" (Luke 9:3). The disciples responded in faith.

Although the decision to come to seminary does not require such a radical economic discipline, it is just as much a step in faith. At the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary you will not take that step alone; we are committed to helping you answer the practical questions connected with a decision to come to seminary.

Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about seminary education at Dubuque:

Do I need to have a call to come to seminary?
Can I afford seminary?
How well will Dubuque prepare me for ministry?
Will I Fit into the seminary community?
What arrangements are there for commuters?
What about the city of Dubuque?

Q: Do I need to have a call to ordained ministry to come to seminary?

A: The Christian Church has traditionally believed that people entering ordained ministry should be called by God. A call can take many forms. For some, it is a single, life-changing experience like the apostle Paul's. Others experience God's call gradually, a steady nudging that ministry is right for them. For still others, recognizing God's call is a difficult process of stops and starts, of experimentation and questioning. Some come to seminary to test the waters - to see if their sense of calling is confirmed by the experience of living in community, working with faculty who are both pastors and teachers, and focusing on ministry full-time.

As there is an inner call, those preparing for ministry in the Church should also have an outer call - the affirming voice of the church community saying, "We believe you have the gifts for ministry." While Dubuque Seminary does not necessarily require you to have formal candidacy with your sponsoring denomination prior to your acceptance, we are committed to working in coordination with your sponsoring denomination in providing you the preparation you need for ministry.

Q: Can I afford seminary?

A: We realize that it can be daunting to consider having to pay for three or four years of seminary knowing that pastors often do not have large salaries. The Financial Planning office at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminaryis committed to making seminary as affordable as possible for each student. Tuition grants are available to those who show need. Additional aid is available to cover both academic and living expenses, in the form of federal work/study employment on campus, Stafford Loans (guaranteed student loans) and scholarships from sources outside the seminary.

Off-campus employment is also a significant source of income. Many super­vised practice of ministry (SPM) positions pay stipends, and the seminary helps students to locate student pastorates in which compensation generally includes not only a salary but also housing.

Students who choose to live off campus find Dubuque a pleasant and very affordable community. Housing and other costs in Eastern Iowa are much lower than in most other cities where seminaries are located.

For more information, please see the Financial Planning section.

Q: How well will Dubuque prepare me for ministry?

A: UDTS is above all a place of training for pastoral ministry. While most of our M.Div. students become pastors of congregations, many become associate pastors, pastoral counselors, or enter specialized ministries. Yet even those who enter teaching or specialized ministry appreciate the broad, scripturally-based foundation of their Dubuque degree. Historically, the placement rate for Dubuque graduates seeking calls to pastoral ministry is virtually 100%. Presbyterian students consistently score at or above the national average on the denomination's standard ordination exams and our graduates demonstrate exceptional longevity in pastoral ministry.


Q: Will I Fit into the seminary community?

A: Those who know Dubuque Seminary speak often of the close Christian community on campus. We are smaller than many seminary communities and value the intimacy that comes with our size. Students know each other well. Faculty members are highly accessible.

We are a community of men and women, young and old, professors and students, from a variety of Christian denominations. In short, preparation for ministry takes place in a community that is a cross-section of the church. The contributions of Native Americans and international students in our student body enrich our community.

The seminary's common life begins with chapel services and extends through classes and informal conversations to the various ministries in which we are engaged. Community is at the center of all that we do; it is a vital part of Dubuque's preparation for ministry. A typical seminary social event, in fact, looks much like a local congregation gathering: men, women, children, students, professors, and staff of different ages and backgrounds.

Q: What arrangements are there for commuters?

A: A large number of the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary students are commuters. Some commute because they are student pastors, serving a church part-time, while they pursue seminary classes; others simply make their permanent home in another city. The seminary provides a schedule that offers many courses for degree programs through attendance on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Commuter students also have the option of renting a furnished room in our townhouses if they choose to stay on campus a few nights a week.


Q: What about the city of Dubuque?

A: Dubuque's identity is shaped by its location beside the Mississippi River. The hilly countryside is covered with farms, streams, and woods.

Dubuque's geography and climate are ideal for many recreational activities, with each season creating new outdoor opportunities. The steep bluffs and rolling hills surrounding Dubuque provide a nice terrain for hiking in the summertime and alpine and nordic skiing in the winter. Several small neighborhood parks in addition to a few large parks provide prime locations for family picnics. These parks also welcome the trampling of feet from Dubuque's very active youth soccer organization.

For an entertaining and informative journey on the Mississippi, one can tour the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. Here visitors can spend hours enjoying the large aquariums, historical exhibits, and strolling through the wetlands.

The Five Flags Center plays host to a number of drama, music and sporting events. The Dubuque Symphony Orchestra, performs regularly in the splendor of the center's vaudevillian theater.

Iowa was recently named as "the best state in the nation to raise a child" by the Children's Rights Council, a national child advisory organization. Dubuque community schools are committed to academic excellence. Schools offer individualized instruction to qualified students with a number of special programs designed to meet the needs of the gifted and challenged. Elementary age children of most seminarians attend nearby Irving School. Washington Junior High School and Senior High School are also nearby and provide excellent instruction and extracurricular activities.

Local facilities make Dubuque the hub of a regional health team, providing hospitals and physicians to the tri-states of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois. The community's two hospitals - Mercy Health Center and Finley Hospital - boast state-of-the-art equipment and between the two have exceptional capabilities in neonatal intensive care for high-risk newborns, and trauma services.

Many seminarians spend Saturday morning in the summer and the fall at the Farmer's Market, the oldest continuous outdoor market in the Midwest. With the addition of handicrafts, the market has grown to offer colorful items and produce.

Dubuque is easily accessible by air and is serviced by the Dubuque Regional Airport.

Miles from Dubuque:  

Chicago, Illinois…183
Denver, Colorado…856
Des Moines, Iowa…167
Indianapolis, Indiana…380
Kansas City, Missouri…375
Louisville, Kentucky…492
Milwaukee, Wisconsin…160
Minneapolis, Minnesota…260
Omaha, Nebraska…330
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania…691
Rochester, Minnesota…176
St. Louis, Missouri…330
Seattle, Washington…1,985