Here at McCormick we get all kinds of questions. So recently, we sat down with our Director of Recruitment, Rev. JC Cadwallader to get her answers to these questions. While these are not all the answers, they are some helpful ones. If you have more, you can check us out at:

Once there, check out our Meet a Student section. These are our student recruitment representatives (yours truly is one of them!). Our e-mail addresses aren’t on there, but you can e-mail any of us at any time at:

We’re pretty much used to answering any and all questions. Trust me, nothing shocks us (ok, that’s a lie, some things do, but don’t hesitate to ask us whatever you need!). We want you to have an honest portrayal of McCormick and what its like here. It might not be the right fit for you, but it just might be! And we want to make sure you know!

Seminaries are like puppies, they might look the same or different and all have different personalities and fit different people, but they are all wonderful creations of God and they are puppies (who doesn’t like a puppy!?!). You just have to find the puppy that is right for you before you take it home and commit to walking it at night and cleaning up after it and bathing it and so on. I hope you find the following questions and answers helpful.


~Shelley D.

So, inquiring minds need to know: is the seminary conservative or liberal? I hear its a bit more liberal.

The short answer is yes…and there’s a longer answer, which explains the interesting reason for this label of “liberal.”

As a tagline, we use 4 words to describe our community and theological education experience.  They are ‘cross-cultural,’ ‘urban,’ ‘reformed’ and ‘ecumenical’ and we strive to live into the current and relevant meanings of these words. Because we do this, we have been labeled “liberal.”

We understand that God is diverse and we believe it is imperative to learn to be a leader of communities of faith in a diverse setting.  We have an anti-discrimination policy which states our intolerance of expressions of hatred, bullying or hurtfulness towards others.  We welcome all people regardless of race, ethnic background, sexual orientation, religious tradition, physical ability or economic situation and learn and worship together as a community.

We reside in an urban setting which provides a rich experience for nurturing a call into ministry.  As our Church is changing, we encourage our students to live into the call into ministry that they are called to.  We do not prescribe what ministry it is that God is calling them to. We do not shy away from conversation or conflict and seek to learn together what it means to be a part of the Beloved Community in an urban context.

As reformed Christians, we continually revel in and seek the presence of God in the world in which we live.  We learn the lessons of our ancestors, the lessons of our history as a people and we appreciate the ever-creating presence of God in the world today.  Here at McCormick, we seek to train leaders for a church that is still to come…not simply the church as we know or have known it.  We believe it is important to engage with who we are today as a Church and begin to look ahead to what possibilities God might have in store for us as a community of faith in the future.  Because we have this understanding of training leaders for what is to come, this ‘we’re not afraid of change but living into the bold and radical call of the gospel to love one another’ kind of approach to ministry, we are deemed “liberal.”

What is community life like at McCormick? What if I don’t fit in?

Our community is a very diverse community.  Each person here, student, staff member, faculty member is unique in their own right.  As we seek to live into the identity of a Beloved Community, it is imperative that each individual bring their whole selves to the table, not just a portion of themselves and therefore, we must make space for one another.

I would suggest not wasting your energy wondering if you’ll fit in…we’re not a square hole and you’re not a round peg.  We are a community of diverse individuals and we need you!

How many denominations are represented at McCormick? Is it only for Presbyterian Church (USA) students?

McCormick is not just for PC(USA) students.  In fact, students of the PC(USA) only make up about 40% of our student population.  For our latest incoming class, those who are first year students currently, they come from 11 different denominations ranging from Baptist to non-denominational, Seventh Day Advents to Presbyterian Church of the Republic of Korea.

What are the demographics like at McCormick?

For the latest incoming class, here are some statistics: (please note: this is not for total enrollment)

Total % of Total
21-24 6 11.76%
25-29 10 19.61%
30-34 8 15.69%
35-39 9 17.65%
40-44 3 5.88%
45-49 5 9.80%
50-54 4 7.84%
55-59 5 9.80%
60-64 0 0.00%
65+ 1 1.96%


Total % of Total
European American 15 29.41%
African American 14 27.45%
Non-resident Alien: Korean 12 23.53%
Hispanic/Latino/a 4 7.84%
Asian American 5 9.80%
Non-resident Alien: Other than Korean 1 1.96%
Native American 0 0.00%
Multi Racial 0 0.00%
Total % of Total
Men 24 47.06%
Women 27 52.94%

Degree Program

Total % of Total
M.Div. 31 60.78%
M.T.S. 15 29.41%
M.A.U.M. 3 5.88%
M.A.D.D. 2 3.92%

(Please not that these numbers only represent our first year class of students that entered in the Fall of 2010.)

What if I don’t want to be an ordained minister? Why would I go to seminary?

A seminary education is not just for the ordained.  It is for those interested in gaining a sound theological education.  We are called into many forms of ministry, whether it be in the form of parish ministry, social work, religious non-profit work, or community work and one can benefit greatly from a theological education.  Especially in a time in our society where importance is placed on education, it is vital that our leaders of faith communities are educated as well.

Seminary is expensive, how will I pay for it?

There are many ways in which students are able to pay for their seminary education.   Students who apply to McCormick by the March 1 deadline are automatically considered for merit scholarships.  For those who do not receive merit scholarships, students are welcome to apply for need-based tuition grants from McCormick.  There are also many scholarships available from other organizations such as denominations, local judicatory bodies and local congregations.  Our Financial Aid officer has resources available for students interested in learning more about what scholarships are out there to be applied for.  Some of our students work for an income as well as going to school and some of our students apply for student loans to cover what is not by tuition grants and scholarships.

I still want to look at other schools, why should I come to McCormick?

It is very important that one look at all the options before making a decision on a seminary to attend.  You should come to McCormick because you believe we will provide the best theological education to prepare you for your call into ministry.

I want somewhere I can get involved in. What is there at McCormick?

Well, it depends on what you want to get involved in.  If we don’t have something already, we invite you to start something for the community!

Currently, we have several student groups on campus which you are more than welcome to become involved in.  They are as such:

Acts 10:15 – A group for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and queer members of McCormick and their allies. This group is interested in education, advocacy and support of equal rights.

AELM – A group for Latino/a students and those interested in Spanish-speaking ministries.

Anti-Racism at McCormick (ARM) – A group for students, families and alum of McCormick to address racism.

Commuters – A group for commuting students.

Eco-Justice – A group committed to raising awareness about environmental justice issues.

Global Community – A group which supports international students at McCormick.

KASA – A group for Korean students and their families.

Peacemaking – A group dedicated to peace and justice work.

Pan-African Student Organization (PASO) – A group for students interested in working with and in African American congregations and ministries.

Women in Ministry – A group especially for women.  Most of their meetings pertain to the annual production of The Vagina Monologues in the spring semester.

We worship as a community on Wednesday afternoons.  In fact, there are many other opportunities to participate in the spiritual life of the community such as leading or participating in prayer services and serving on the Board of Deacons.

And, if administration is your spiritual gift, we also have a Student Session (functions like Student Government) which you can be elected to and serve on.

If you are interested in volunteering with a church or organization outside of McCormick, we certainly encourage that as well.

I have a family with small children. Can I still come to seminary?

Absolutely!  Children bring a wonderful perspective into the community.  As I’ve said before, our community is quite diverse and age is a factor in that as well.  We have newborns in our midst as well as kids of all ages and above and everyone benefits from the presence of children…they keep a sense of humor and play, which is more than welcome in an academic setting, believe me!

I have 2 large dogs, can I bring them with me?

As a seminary, we have 2 residence buildings.  In one of the buildings, pets are allowed.  Dogs 50 lbs and less are more than welcome.  If they are much larger, you will need to have a conversation with Diane Sinish, our Residence Life Director to negotiate with her.  Check out the Friday editions of this blog which are perspectives of seminary pets!

I am currently a pastor at a church. I don’t know if I can juggle school, my family and home life and seminary. How do students do it?

I would say that it is only by the grace of God that anyone can juggle a seminary education and life in general, much less adding further responsibilities!  And, God is good!  Many of our students already serve as pastors and juggle family, education and congregation well.  It can be done!

However, when discerning to attend seminary, it is very important to take into consideration priorities in life.  It is an academic degree that will require lots of time for coursework, reading and writing.  Be sure to be in communication with your congregation and family about time and energy.  Sacrifices will most likely have to be made…be sure to communicate well with those around you throughout the process so that the adjustments and changes will be manageable and not as overwhelming.

If you (you, who’s reading this right now) are interested in talking with someone in this situation, call the Recruitment office…we would be happy to put you in touch with a current student.

Thanks JC! These were great answers! If you would like to contact us, you can call McCormick at 773.947.6300 and simply ask to speak to a Student Recruitment Representative! We are always more than happy to help you in your discernment towards seminary and what it is God is calling you to do. Even if you don’t choose McCormick, we are all part of God’s body, and as such we are called to support each other!

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