Benedict, in his Rule, calls the monastery a "school for the Lord's service" (Rule of Benedict Prologue). Graduate study and ministerial formation at Saint John's draw on this tradition; students prepare for service with the help of a community.
The three year Master of Divinity program for lay ministry candidates readies students for church leadership as lay ecclesial ministers. Consistent with Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord, the formation program addresses the whole person, attending to human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral development. The program guides students through discernment of their call to ministry, their gifts, limitations, and pathway to ministry.
Classroom learning, Clinical Pastoral Education, and field education work together to teach students to reflect theologically on their ministerial experiences, while spiritual direction and communal prayer nurture students' spiritual lives. Through theological study and formation, students grow in their understanding of God's activity in their lives and develop an understanding of themselves as lay ecclesial ministers called to serve in Christian communities.
Master of Divinity students may also earn a Master of Arts degree, either simultaneously with or after their Master of Divinity studies, by completing 18 additional credits, two graduate papers or a thesis, the language proficiency exam, and comprehensive exams.