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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 of Shepherds Theological Seminary, located in Laramie, WY, gives Christians this unique opportunity.

Students at The WEST Institute are immersed in sound Biblical teaching, are challenged through intentional discipleship and community, study in Rome and Israel, and have the chance to enjoy many 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 provides the academic teaching and accreditation, and Laramie Valley Chapel provides a local church setting in which the seminary thrives.

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. 

Our unique format makes seminary an option for all Christians, not just those pursuing vocational ministry. The entire 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, but it also makes seminary an option for men and women headed into every walk of life.

Students receive Biblical training from the faculty and staff of Shepherds Theological Seminary. This instruction occurs through Master's level classes, the Bible Institute, and the Israel Initiative trip. Students complete 15 Master's level courses, spend 300 hours in a verse-by-verse study in the Bible Institute, and study in Rome and Israel for nearly three weeks. Students and their spouses are also involved in authentic community and weekly small groups. These elements are designed to make sure the Biblical knowledge is actually impacting their life.

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. Students take courses in Old Testament Studies, Hermeneutics, New Testament Studies, Life of Christ, Systematic Theologies, Church History, and many other topics. 

For some this is a chance to receive a biblical foundation prior to entering the secular workforce. For others this is a step toward ministry and possibly even an accelerated path to a Master of Divinity. The Master of Divinity can be completed with an additional 2-3 years of study at the campus in Cary, NC.

Future missionaries, pastors, youth pastors, teachers, accountants, engineers, nurses, mothers, fathers, and all others are invited to consider setting aside a year to focus on learning and applying the Bible.

Degree Details

The WEST Institute is a teaching 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, our 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 complete program that is focused on the heart of each student. 

Our whole 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 and WEST staff. To learn more about our discipleship efforts please see the pages on the Heart Study and Life-on-Life. Our discipleship program is based largely on the work of the Association of Biblical Counselors.

Our campus is located in a perfect location for outdoor adventures.  We are within 30 minutes of rock climbing and skiing.  We provide in-class training and an equipment rental program and encourage students to go explore!  Outdoor adventures challenge students mentally and physically, offer opportunities for discipleship, and often create memories that will last a life time.