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Theology Experienced

The WEST Institute


One Year Seminary


"What would it look like if you set aside a season of your life to study God's Word and be challenged to apply it to your life?" That is the question we have asked students to consider from the beginning. The WEST Institute, an extension site of Shepherds Theological Seminary, gives Christians this unique opportunity. Future missionaries, pastors, teachers, accountants, engineers, nurses, mothers, fathers, and all others are invited to join us in dedicating one year to learning and living out the Bible.

Students at The WEST Institute are immersed in sound Biblical teaching, are challenged through intentional discipleship and community, study in Rome and Israel, and enjoy outdoor adventures. Our program is built on the belief that the Word of God alone can change the lives of students and those they will minister to for the rest of their lives.

The WEST Institute exists as a partnership between Laramie Valley Chapel (Laramie, WY) and Shepherds Theological Seminary (Cary, NC). Shepherds Theological Seminary is responsible for all academic instruction, and Laramie Valley Chapel provides a local church setting for intrusive discipleship and mentoring.

Program Overview

The mission of The WEST Institute is to see the lives of men and women changed through the study and personal application of God's Word. We are committed to helping students grow in their knowledge of Scripture and challenging them to live their lives as a reflection of God's Word. The Bible forms the basis of our education and students are challenged to always keep the Word of God as the lens by which they view the world.

Our unique format makes seminary an option for all Christians, not just those pursuing vocational ministry. The program is completed in just twelve months. Most Christians never consider seminary because of the 2-5 years of study required. Our one year format not only accelerates the schooling process for future full time ministers, it also makes seminary an option for men and women headed into every walk of life.

Students are enrolled in the Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree program of Shepherds Theological Seminary. The MTS is a unique degree only offered at the Shepherd Theological Seminary Teaching Sites (Laramie, WY; Bryan, TX; and Singapore). This degree is designed for students looking for an entry level masters degree that provides both a strong foundation in the Bible and theology, but also prepares them to serve more effectively where ever God has called them, whether in the local Church or in their place of employment. The MTS degree also appeals to students who may consider more advanced degree work and it counts towards 45% of the Master of Divinity degree at Shepherds Theological Seminary should a student decide to continue their studies. Click HERE to learn more about the MTS degree.

In addition to the MTS program, students spend 300 hours studying verse-by-verse through the Bible in the Bible Institute, visit Rome for one week, and study in Israel for nearly two weeks. Students and their spouses are also involved in authentic community, weekly small groups, and local church ministries through The WEST Institute and Laramie Valley Chapel. These elements are designed to make sure the Biblical knowledge is actually being applied and impacting the life of each student.

Students work though the program as one cohort. All students follow the same class schedule. Our academic year typically begins in early August and runs a full 12 months. Click HERE for a breakdown of the MTS Curriculum.

Degree Details

The WEST Institute is an extension site of Shepherds Theological Seminary. Shepherds is accredited through the Association of Theological Schools. Shepherds offers students at The WEST Institute two courses of study. Students can apply to the Master of Theological Studies (MTS) program or the Diploma Program. All Laramie students, regardless of the chosen program, complete the entire year as one cohort.

The Master of Theological Studies (MTS) is a 41 hour accredited degree which combines the highest quality of academic studies from the resident faculty of Shepherds with the personal guidance and discipleship of the staff in Laramie. The MTS has two purposes: (1) For the lay minister, to gain an advanced understanding of the Bible and theology in order to be qualified and able to serve the Lord more effectively in one's local church or related ministries; (2) For those anticipating vocational ministry, to prepare for further graduate studies, especially the Master of Divinity Program. For a full description of the MTS degree, please click "here".

The Diploma Program is designed for those who either have limited or no undergraduate college credit, or who do not feel called to pursue a formal graduate degree. Students in the Diploma Program at The WEST Institute participate in all of the same courses and activities as the students in the Master of Theological Studies program. Upon completion of the program, students will obtain a non-accredited Diploma in recognition of their fulfilling the requirements of the program. The tuition and fee rates for the Diploma courses are the same as for students enrolled in the Master’s programs.

Class Structure

All students at The WEST Institute take courses in a module format, taking only one at a time. Students work through the entire year as a cohort following a predetermined class schedule. This approach enhances the learning experience as students focus on one subject at a time. It also ensures that students will never have to take classes out of logical order just to make their schedule work. 

Each class involves 1-2 weeks of daily lecture followed by a 2-3 week break to finish the required assignments and work ahead for the next class. On average, students take one class every month for the twelve months they are enrolled in the program. 

All courses are taught by the faculty of Shepherds Theological Seminary. The faculty of Shepherds Theological Seminary is committed to sound scholarship and absolute loyalty to God's inerrant and infallible Word. Faculty members hold graduate degrees in their teaching field and also have many years of ministry experience. The faculty has served as biblical counselors, youth pastors, senior pastors, church planters, and Christian college administrators and faculty. Cumulatively they have over 150 years of pastoral experience and over 100 years of seminary teaching experience.

Authentic Community and Discipleship

We are committed to not only helping students grow in their knowledge of Scripture, but also to challenging them to live their lives as a reflection of the Word of God. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive program that is focused on the mind and heart of each student and spouse. Our program is uniquely able to accomplish this because it exists as a ministry partnership of Laramie Valley Chapel and Shepherds Theological Seminary. We exist to train men and women with sound biblical teaching in the context of intentional life-on-life community. 

Our program is built on the principle of discipleship. Students experience authentic community and are challenged to apply Scripture to their lives. This community exists among students, WEST staff, and Pastors and members of Laramie Valley Chapel. To learn more about our discipleship efforts please see the pages on the Heart Study and Life-on-Life

Our campus is located in a perfect location for outdoor adventures. Outdoor adventures challenge students mentally and physically, offer opportunities for discipleship, and create memories that will last a life time. We provide in-class training and an equipment rental program and encourage students to go explore!