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Some seminarians at Calvin Theological Seminary breathed a sigh of relief when a 12-percent reduction in their course load was announced in June.

The Grand Rapids, Mich., school’s Master of Divinity program, which prepares students to become ministers in the Christian Reformed Church, has been reduced from 153 to 134 credit hours, enabling most students to complete seminary in three years—a feat that until now was possible on paper but difficult to achieve.

The seminary also reduced the credit hours for its Master of Theological Studies program.

“Calvin Seminary was at the very high end in the number of course hours required compared to other seminaries,” said Rev. Henry De Moor, the seminary’s vice president for academic affairs. Moreover, with so much academic work, some students found it hard to make time for activities that encourage personal spiritual growth, he noted. “We’re saying, ‘Let’s give students some room to grow in every area of their lives and not have too much emphasis on the classroom experience.’”

The changes will make the seminary more competitive with other seminaries, which the administration hopes will boost enrollment.

But, said De Moor, the seminary doesn’t want to “sacrifice any of the quality” of its programs. It reduced the hours by combining classes and reducing the number of core classes. A “Culture, Pedagogy and Curriculum” committee will investigate further possible changes to the seminary’s course load and schedule.

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