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There is enormous value in setting aside time for full-time theological study — the best preparation for a lifetime of gospel service. Whether you are considering vocational ministry or mission, or simply wanting to know your Bible better, full-time study allows the time and resources to dig deep, reflect and grow in Christ-like character (See Graduate Attributes).
All full-time students need to study an ACT accredited course at either undergraduate, graduate or post graduate level. In addition, you'll also participate in a non-accredited program called Certificate of Bible and Ministry (CBM), which is recognised by many churches, mission agencies and parachurch organisations as an excellent distinctive feature of SMBC’s training for ministry.
Full time study at SMBC is just that – full time. Your week will involve lectures, study time, chapel services, prayer groups, mission teams, conferences and church activities. You’ll be immersed in the College community with excellent access to lecturers and deans to support spiritual and character development. All full-time students also participate in our annual College Mission and the biennial SMBC Preaching and Missions Conferences.
Overseas students can also apply for full-time study at SMBC. Find more information at Overseas Students
Download SMBC Course Overview PDF (74KB)
SMBC Principal, Stuart Coulton, interviews Graham Cole (Dean of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) on the importance of spiritual formation.
Hear from some of our full-time students...
The short answer is No. But full-time and residential is the premium package of the study experience at SMBC and we encourage students try to experience this for at least part of their studies, if it is possible. This is because the Bible college experience involves both educational and spiritual/character development.
Full-time and Part-time:
- Full-time study is defined by the Government as being enrolled in an Australian College of Theology (ACT) course and 3-4 units per semester. At SMBC, full-time students are also required to be enrolled in the Certificate of Bible and Ministry (CBM) – an internal certificate program which seeks to add value to the educational and spiritual/character development and supplement your ACT studies. This requires an application for a position within this program.
- What is the CBM and its purpose? This Certificate ranges from two semesters to six semesters in length, depending on your ACT course and length of full-time study. It involves some extra lectures (in Bible, introductory theology, missions, preaching, etc), attendance at chapel and prayer groups, participation in College Mission, weekly duties and having lunch together each day with faculty and students. The CBM supplements and enhances your other studies. It is recognised by many churches, mission agencies and parachurch organisations as an excellent distinctive feature of SMBC’s training for ministry.
- Can I be full-time but not do the CBM? To study 3-4 units at SMBC, you will need to do the CBM as well; this is the unique structure for full-time study at SMBC. If you are doing study across two or more colleges, then you can be full-time load in your ACT course but only doing 1 or 2 at SMBC.
- Part-time study is defined as being enrolled in 1-2 units per semester. Part-time students at SMBC do not enrol in the CBM, but are welcome to attend the chapels and have full access to the library and faculty staff.
- Can I complete part of my studies as full-time and part as part-time? Yes, and some students will start their ACT course as part-time students and then apply to complete their course as a full-time/CBM student. Note: you do need to have at least 6 units left in your course to be eligible to become a full-time student for two semesters and be eligible to enter the CBM. Other students will start their course as a fulltime student (in the CBM program) and then finish their studies as a part-time student. There is flexibility but also restrictions on that flexibility – especially when it comes to pre-requisites and in which semester certain units are offered.
Full-time CBM students will have 8-12hrs of lectures for ACT units and then between 12-15hrs for the CBM program. Time for library use, research and reading also needs to be added to this.
Part-time students will need to be at college for the 2-3 hrs per unit enrolled plus possibly time in the library, etc.
Lectures range from 8:30am through to 9:30pm, so it will depend on your timetable, but full-time (including CBM) will mean that you will be at college from Monday to Friday, especially in your first year of the CBM program.
As a full-time (CBM program) student it is best to start in Semester 1 (February) but it is possible to start in Semester 2 (July). As a part-time student, you may begin in either Semester 1 or 2.
Of course we would love you to do all your study through SMBC, but no, some students will get credit into their ACT course for prior learning. Other students will have studied at other ACT colleges and so have completed part of their course when they come to SMBC. Since we are part of the ACT collegiate, then studies can be done through another ACT college as well. We would like students to do at least 75% of their studies with SMBC, once they start at the college. We try to be flexible and offer students a variety of options so as to complete their studies with SMBC.
Yes, there is scope to change course, by extending your study, or cutting it short, or changing level. There are some rules and restrictions that need to be considered, but generally there is scope to extend or shorten your study. There is limited scope for movement between levels of study. Examples include: 1. Changing between Diploma P1 to undergraduate level, or undergraduate level to Diploma P1; 2. Changing from graduate level to undergraduate level (but not undergraduate level to graduate level); 3. Extending from Diploma P2 to the Bachelor of Theology, or from the Bachelor of Theology to exit with a Diploma P2.
This is one of the difficult questions which is usually best answered as part of a conversation. Each course has its own merits and value. Here are some basic considerations to help determine the most appropriate course for you:
- How many years do you want to study? Each course has a minimum and maximum length in which to be completed (except for Diploma P1 which has unlimited time).
- Do you know what you might use the qualification for after your studies?
- If you are thinking of studying full-time, will you require Centrelink allowances?
- What level of education have you achieved in the past?
- Do you want to study Biblical Greek and/or Hebrew?
There is always a possibility for credits. When enquiring or enrolling please ask the question and have available details of your previous studies – level, institution, and when you studied. You may be granted credits or exemptions from some units.
There are four general components to this:
- ACT course tuition costs.
- CBM program costs: For full-time students in the CBM program only (Note: this cost cannot be put against FEE-HELP). This fee includes CBM tuition costs + SMBC service fee + lunch Monday-Friday during semester time.
- Accommodation costs: Residential accommodation includes most meals, utility costs, Wi-Fi, etc. When making the comparison with living off campus, include the cost and time it takes to travel to and from college.
- General living costs: This could include mobile phone, clothes, toiletries, extra food, local travel and maybe holidays, money for books, printing and computer costs. If you have a car, then costs of the vehicle need to be included.
Please refer to our Costs page for up-to-date details.
There are many ways this happens, but here are a few:
- Using Government support programs – but note these will not cover all your costs of study and living.
- FEE-HELP - this is a government loan scheme that applies to the tuition costs of ACT units. If you are an Australian citizen you are most likely eligible to use FEE-HELP. You can choose to put some units on FEE-HELP and some units by UPFRONT payment. Check www.studyassist.gov.au for details and conditions.
- Study Allowances through Centrelink.
- Rent Assistance through Centrelink.
- Family Allowance – for families.
- Transport Concession – NSW government offers full-time students public transport concessions.
- Savings: Some full-time students will use their savings to enable them to pay for their full-time study. Part-time students will often work as well as use some savings.
- Work: Because of the extra CBM commitments of full-time study at SMBC, there are very limited opportunities during the week for work (lecture and CBM commitments are spread across Monday to Friday). Many students do work during the breaks between semesters and some will get ministry positions in their church. There are very limited options of employment at SMBC. It’s important to ensure that your studies take precedence over your work/ministry.
- Partnership support: Some students will have family (maybe the spouse will work, or parents will pay a proportion of costs) who will support the study and/or living costs while they study. It is also a great idea to begin building a partnership prayer/support team – from family, church and friends – who will support you in this study venture. Remember, Bible College is a place of spiritual development and it is wise to have people praying and supporting you through this time – whether you are full-time or part-time.
- Simplifying Lifestyle: Some students find by simplifying their lifestyle, that cost of living can be reduced and more manageable on reduced income.
The earlier the better is the simple answer. You can find the information about the full-time application process here.
If you are seeking residential accommodation, then an early application will mean you are added to the potential accommodation list early.
There is no cut off date for applications for full-time study, but the process normally takes 3-4 weeks, so it is wise to put the application in at least before December (remember that Christmas and New Year means we lose a few weeks). The other consideration is often about your own planning and knowing with some more clarity for study – the application process helps you to gain clarity of direction and you can, at the end of the process, decline the offer SMBC makes to you re full-time study. Often once you let people know you have applied, then they know you are serious and will be praying for you in your decisions.
Not many. As an educational facility, it is inevitable that some students will fail a unit of study. Why they fail has many reasons, but at SMBC, we seek to offer support for students in study and essay writing skills, management of time and pastoral care. We have a number of deans who seek to assist students. We work hard at advising students in what might be the most appropriate level of academic study, and there is flexibility to change courses if the level of study becomes too hard. As a spiritual/character development college, an educational fail may not reflect the positive spiritual development that is happening. We seek to encourage students to use the academics, and other aspect of college life, to grow in godly character. It is also true that some students will not complete the course they first start in. There are many reasons for this. Some will simply take a break in study – for spiritual, financial, or relational reasons, or they move away from Sydney.
Many will move into mission and ministry roles, some will return to their profession/work and be active (more equipped) in their local church. We aim to help equip you for wherever God leads you.