Barbara Doyle, 2011 graduate and pastor of two United Methodist Churches, drives over 2 hours from Radford, Va. to attend classes at Eastern Mennonite Seminary.

New Seminary Course Schedule Benefits Commuters and Part-time Students

HARRISONBURG, Va. – Eastern Mennonite Seminary is making it easier for commuter and part-time students to take seminary courses. How? By changing course schedules so that more classes meet just one day a week.

Twelve of the 23 courses offered this fall will be offered once a week or on the weekend to make it easier for students who must travel a distance to the seminary.

Over one-third of the students currently taking courses at EMS live at least an hour from Harrisonburg. Some drive two or three hours. With the new block schedule, these students may only need to come one or two days a week instead of three or four.

Commuters will travel less

“Next year it would be possible for someone from Roanoke to come and take up to six credits one day a week,” said Don A. Yoder, director of admissions.

Lee Ann Powers drives two hours one way from Bedford, Va. to attend her evening class this semester.

“With the rising gas prices I’m looking forward to a monthly weekend class next fall. It will be cheaper for me to drive up once a month and stay overnight,” said Powers. “Plus I’m hoping it will enhance the sense of community and belonging to be here more than one evening a week.”

Part-time students will be able to balance work and school

“Almost half of the students taking courses at the Harrisonburg campus are part time,” Yoder noted. “Many students hold part-time ministry positions or work other jobs along with their seminary studies.  This new schedule will make it easier for them to manage work and school. ”

The block schedule also benefits students taking courses in other graduate programs at EMU. All other graduate programs have block schedules, and so students who are taking courses in multiple programs will be able to schedule classes more easily.

Dual degree students benefit

“I’m enrolled in both the seminary and EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding,” said Brian Gumm, a third-year student from Harrisonburg, Va. “The new schedule will make it much easier for me to take all the classes I need to graduate next year.”

To learn more about courses at Eastern Mennonite Seminary, visit the seminary website, call the admissions office at 540-432-4257, or email