The programs in supervised ministries help students gain professional competence, build frameworks for raising practical theological issues, acquire comprehensive and realistic views of ministry in the Church and other settings, and develop ministerial identities.
Supervised ministry is one of the most important ways that YDS partners with churches, schools, and other institutions in the theological education and formation of individuals for ministry. Sites participating in the internship program represent a broad range of denominations, theologies, and missions. They include parishes, campuses, and both faith-based and secular community organizations. Typically, there are more sites that request interns than there are students who are seeking placements. Students participating in the program are an equally diverse group. As an educational program of Yale University, internship sites must be open to all students regardless of sex, race, age, disability, veteran status, or sexual orientation.
While supervised ministry is a requirement of the M.Div. program, it is open to all Yale Divinity School students in degree programs. Students may elect to meet this requirement in several ways, including a part-time internship during the academic year, a full-time internship during the summer, or a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (see chart of Internship Options). Most students choose to do the Part-time Ministry Internship during their second year at YDS. Students may do more than one supervised ministry—at the same or a different site—for credit in their degree program. It is the student’s responsibility to know the field education requirements of his or her ordaining body, and to be sure their supervised ministry meets those requirements.
The Office of Supervised Ministries helps students negotiate a supervised ministry experience that will develop or enhance the skills and practical wisdom required for the ministry to which they are drawn. Each unit of supervised ministry requires a total of 400 hours, including preparation and commuting time and time spent in Practicum. Each site has an experienced supervisor who directs and supports the student’s experience and a theologically trained mentor who engages in regular theological reflection with the student about that experience. Most often there is a single supervisor/mentor that performs both roles. The YDS program is built around the mentoring relationship between individuals. The importance of this relationship explains how potential supervisors are chosen: they have the qualities of a good mentor, they have extensive experience or participate in training in supervision, they commit to meeting weekly with interns, and they collaborate in regular assessment. The supervisory relationship is really the heart of the educational and formational process for interns. This is not to discount the importance of the tasks interns perform, nor of the value to them of being exposed to sites where ministry is flourishing; it simply means that the learning all comes together in the supervision they receive.
In addition to their activities at the ministry site, student interns also participate in a weekly practicum at YDS. Their instructors are experienced practitioners trained to guide small groups of interns in practical theological discussions and mutual support. These groups become a model for professional peer groups that students are encouraged to seek or develop to help sustain their ministries in the future.
The Supervised Ministry Internship with Practicum is a course in the YDS curriculum and should not be construed as a job. (If a site would like to employ a YDS student, please contact Susan Olson, Director of Career Services, at email@example.com.) Each unit of supervised ministry carries three credits per semester. These are elective and do not apply toward Area IV requirements. Students’ grades are assigned by the Director of Supervised Ministries, based on the student’s and supervisor’s evaluation reports and feedback from the Practicum instructor. Specific responsibilities are set out in a Learning Agreement developed by the intern and the supervisor prior to the internship.