Frequently Asked Questions about Divine Word College

What is the student body like?
What is the retention and graduation rate at DWC?
What are the current default rates for Divine Word College?
What do graduates do after leaving DWC?
What degrees and majors does Divine Word College offer?
Are students full-time or part-time?
What are the faculty qualifications?
How much does it cost to attend DWC?
Can I get financial aid at DWC?
What are the admission deadlines?
Where do students live?
What does “SVD” stand for?
How do you know if God is calling you to the priesthood or religious life?
How do you know which religious community is right for you?
What is your charism?
What kind of ministries are your members engaged in?
How many countries do you work in? 
Are you Roman Catholic?
What kind of prayer life do you have?
What is the formation program like?
Do I  get any breaks from the seminary throughout the year? Can I leave the campus?
What is the male/female gender ratio on campus?
What do I have to do to join your Order/Seminary? 
What are the admission criteria?
What is the difference between a priest and a Brother?
What is the difference between a religious priest and a diocesan priest?
How do I pay for the Seminary? How do I pay for my transportation?
I was born in another country. Can I go back and visit my family there?
Do I live on campus? What is the facility like?
Is Divine Word College an accredited college?
Divine Word College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The College is affiliated with the following organizations:
  • American Association for Higher Education (AAHE)
  • American Council on Education (ACE)
  • Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU)
  • Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU)
  • Council of Independent Colleges (CIC)
  • National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU)
  • National Catholic Education Association (NCEA)
  • Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB)
  • American Association of University Administrators (AAUA)
  • American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO)
  • National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO)
  • National Association of College Seminaries

Divine Word College is:
  • Incorporated by the State of Iowa as an institution of higher education empowered to grant degrees and academic honors.
  • Approved under the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Service as a school for attendance by non-immigrant students.
Can I transfer college work I have already done to Divine Word College?
Divine Word College usually accepts credit for courses completed with a grade of "C-" or above at other accredited colleges and universities. However, like other colleges, Divine Word College reserves the right to judge both the quality of those courses and their equivalence to specific courses in its own program. We will need your transcript, the course description and occasionally a syllabus.
Where do students come from?
Many of our students are first or second generation immigrants to the USA. Some of our English as a Second Language (ESL) students are religious Sisters, religious Brothers, or priests from other countries who are here to learn English on their way to a mission setting in an English speaking location. 
What is the student body like?
Some of our students come to us as eighteen-year-old freshmen who have known for years that they have a calling to become missionary priests or Brothers. Some heard the call some years later. In Fall, 2017, the average age of our students was 31. Sixty-three percent of the students were male and 37 percent female. In terms of race/ethnicity, 16 percent consisted of Asian, 3 percent Caucasian, 2 percent Black/African-American, and 3 percent Hispanic. Seventy-six percent are categorized as Non-Resident Alien.
What is the retention and graduation rate at Divine Word College?
DWC is a very specialized college. Our primary mission is to prepare future missionary priests and Brothers. Our programs are designed to do this very well. If a student determines that he is not called to religious life, rather than changing his major and moving on (which is what would happen at most colleges), the student generally leaves DWC for a school where he can study other things. Since one of our goals is to help students determine if they are really being called to religious life or not, we consider this a success. 

Divine Word College
  First-Year Retention Rate Cohort Graduation Rate*
2001 78% 48%
2002 79% 58%
2003 69% 31%
2004 77% 50%
2005 46% 31%
2006 75% 20%
2007 60% 36%
2008 78% 67%
2009 100% 79%
2010 89% 30%
2011 74% 69%
2012 84% 71%*
2013 77% 33%*
2014 92% 10%*
2015 67%  
2016 56%  
*Several students are still pursuing their degrees.
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What are the current default rates for Divine Word College?

The Department of Education announces a school's three-year cohort default rate in the Fall of each year for Direct (Stafford) Loans. For DWC, they are 2014 - 0%, 2013 - 4.1%, 2012 - 8.6%. The 2015 three-year official rate will be available in the Fall of 2018.

What do graduates do after leaving Divine Word College?
After graduation from DWC, those students planning on continuing with the Society of the Divine Word go to a year of novitiate at the Techny, IL, SVD house and take first vows at the end of that year. After novitiate, seminarians pursuing the priesthood continue their studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and earn their Master of Divinity degree. Brothers pursue further studies at an appropriate educational institute. Both seminarians and Brothers complete a one to three year program of cross-cultural training prior to professing perpetual vows as a Divine Word Missionary. Divine Word graduates who decide not to continue their studies with the Divine Word Missionaries typically enter the graduate school or enter the workforce.   
What degrees and majors does Divine Word College offer?
Divine Word College offers Bachelor Degrees and Associate of Arts Degrees.  Students may earn a BA Degree in Philosophy, Intercultural Studies and Theology and Religious Studies.  AA Degrees are offered in Intercultural Studies, Theology and Religious Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies.  Each student is also required to minor in an area other than their major, unless the student opts for a double major.

Are students full-time or part-time?
Very few of our students are part-time. The Spiritual Formation aspect necessitates living and working on campus. Our part-time students are non-traditional students who are not pursuing degrees.
What are the faculty qualifications?
Seventy-six percent of the faculty are full-time and thirty-eight percent have been at DWC for ten years or more. The average length of faculty service is 9.7 years. Forty-four percent have earned doctorates in their teaching area.
How much does it cost to attend DWC?
Student Expenses
Room and Board
            Academic Year 2017-2018                                         $3,600
            Academic Year 2018-2019                                         $3,700

Tuition – Full-Time Attendance
            Academic Year 2017-2018                                         $12,750
            Academic Year 2018-2019                                         $13,000
Tuition – Part-Time Attendance and Audited Courses
            Academic Year 2017-2018                                         $430 per credit hour
            Academic Year 2018-2019                                         $440 per credit hour

Miscellaneous Expenses
Transportation  $300 to $1,000
Personal items  $750
Medical expenses                                                                    $1,650
(Medical insurance is mandatory for students not otherwise covered by medical insurance.)
Total average additional expenses                                         
$2,700 to $3,400
 Application Fee (non-refundable)    $25
 Book Rental     $180
 Student Activity Fee (per year)   $40
 Late Registration Charge   $  5
 Change of Registration Charge                                                     $  5
 Late Examination and Test Charge  $  5
 Transcript Fee (first copy free)   $  5
 Graduation Fee                                                                           
 Cap and Gown rental                                                                    $60
 Computer Lab Use    $60
 Lunch Fee $  6
Can I get financial aid at DWC?
Any duly qualified applicant, sincerely interested in studying for the priesthood or brotherhood as a Divine Word Missionary, will never be turned away for lack of money. While expecting students and their parents to pay what they can reasonably afford, Divine Word Missionaries will assist them in obtaining the necessary financial aid.
What are the admission deadlines?
The Admissions Committee ordinarily processes applications within two weeks of receipt of all the required documentation. Applicants are encouraged to complete the application process as early as possible. Applications will be processed until July 15 for the fall semester and until December 1 for the spring semester.
Where do students live?
Besides taking classes, our seminary students take part in a spiritual and personal formation program. As a part of the personal formation program, the students live and work in multicultural Formation Groups. To accomplish this, students live on campus so that they can fully participate in the formation program.
What does “SVD” stand for?
Most members of a religious community use initials after their name to identify the religious congregation they belong to. For example, SJ stands for the Society of Jesus and OSF reflects the Order of St. Francis. SVD is Latin for Societas Verbi Divini. Translated into English, it means Society of the Divine Word. However, in the USA, we are more commonly called the Divine Word Missionaries or the SVDs.
Do your members wear a habit?
No. Today’s Divine Word Missionaries do not wear a distinct or specific habit here in the United States. Other Divine Word Missionaries who serve in different countries wear clothing that is acceptable within their ministries. While celebrating Mass and participating in other liturgical services, ordained priests and vowed brothers wear appropriate religious clothing. If a Divine Word Missionary is an educator or works within an institutional environment, he may wear formal or casual business clothing and priests may wear their clerical collars. As a Divine Word College student, you will wear casual student clothing and dress either formally or semi-formally for certain occasions and special liturgical celebrations. 
How do you know if God is calling you to the priesthood or religious life?
There is no easy answer to this question, but here are five things to do to help you decide—pray, talk with others, assess your talents and skills, start spiritual direction, and enter formation. Prayer helps you to listen for God’s call. God often communicates to us through other people. Do you have talents and skills consistent with the needs of the Universal Church and that of a missionary congregation? A qualified spiritual director can help you explore God’s presence in your life. If you have a general feeling that God is calling you to religious life, formation helps you to grow and understand your vocation more clearly. 
How do you know which religious community is right for you?
In discerning your own unique response to God’s call of service, you may seek out the religious order or diocese that is the best fit for you, matching your own special gifts and talents with a congregation’s mission. Wherever there is a need in the missionary endeavors of the Church, there is a need for a Divine Word Missionary.
What is your charism?
“Charism” comes from the Greek word charis, meaning grace. Since grace is a gift that we receive from God without any merit on our part, as Catholics and Divine Word Missionaries we share this grace by using our own particular gifts for the good of others and to spread the Word of God. This grace, or charism, has continued to grow in the spirit of our founder, St. Arnold Janssen, and is reflected in our international community life and ministry. Divine Word Missionaries profess vows of consecrated chastity, evangelical poverty and apostolic obedience. We learn the language and cultures of those we serve and are open to leaving our home countries to minister in any one of our Society’s global missions. 
What kind of ministries are your members engaged in?
The Society of the Divine Word has a wide range of ministries that include, but are not limited to:
  • Parish pastoral and sacramental ministries
  • Educational and religious training and teaching
  • Evangelization
  • Youth, adult and family programs and services
  • Lay leadership programs
  • Healthcare ministries
  • Seminary formation programs
  • Counseling and chaplaincy services
  • Economic, peace and justice ministries
How many countries do you work in? 
Today, Divine Word Missionaries serve in over 70 countries worldwide and number more than 6,000. We preach the Gospel and share the Word of God by living, working, teaching, and sharing with others in many areas of global ministry. The society has grown to encompass four main SVD mission zones: AFRAM (Africa), ASPAC (Asia/Pacific), PANAM (the Americas), and EUROPE.
Are you Roman Catholic?
Yes. Divine Word Missionaries are the largest international missionary congregation in the Roman Catholic Church. Located in Epworth, Iowa, Divine Word College is the only Roman Catholic college seminary in the United States with the primary mission of educating Catholic missionaries.
What kind of prayer life do you have?
Traditionally, the prayer life of the Society of the Divine Word has been guided by one or a combination of three devotions especially important to St. Arnold Janssen, our founder: Devotion to Mary, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and devotion to the Holy Spirit. After Vatican II, our imitation of Christ reflects the coming forth of the Divine Word from the bosom of the Father and the embodiment of the Holy Trinity. This is our ideal in going forth into the world as missionaries.  As a Divine Word College student, your schedule will include both communal and personal prayer times. After private morning prayer, you will join the community in daily Mass. Special Masses celebrated in different languages are also offered on a weekly basis. Communal evening prayer includes weekly Vespers and evening Holy Hour. You will also pray with others in small formation groups.
What is the formation program like?
Formation is a journey of discovery and development, helping you to grow both spiritually and personally. Formation helps prepare you for the commitment to serve God’s people and enables you to be certain that God is calling you to be a Divine Word Missionary. A seminary student’s formation program at Divine Word College includes five main areas: Human, Spiritual, Intellectual, Cross-Cultural and Missionary Ministry Formation. At Divine Word College, formation includes an academic program. Most students are working toward earning a BA Degree. Along with educational classes, students will participate in retreats, apostolic activities, various liturgies, spiritual direction and peer formation groups. In addition to formation at Divine Word College, Divine Word Missionaries offer four other formation programs: Associate, Brother, Novitiate, and Theologate Formation Programs. (Click here for more details about these formation programs). 
Do I get any breaks from the seminary throughout the year? Can I leave the campus?
Yes. As a seminary student or brother candidate, you will have breaks for Thanksgiving, Christmas and during the spring and summer break periods. You may leave the campus during these times and also on weekends for special events and occasions. Students who have professed their temporary vows will perform summer ministries in various SVD mission locations. On a daily basis, the campus is open and you are free to leave campus for leisure activities.
 What is the male/female gender ratio on campus?
In the Fall of 2017 there are 63 men and 37 women enrolled at Divine Word College.
What do I have to do to join your order/seminary? 
The first step is to contact one of our vocation directors, who will be happy to answer your questions and guide you in the process(Click here to contact a Vocation Director).  
What are the admission criteria?
Guided by the Constitution of the Society of the Divine Word, when Vocation Directors and the Admissions Committee make decisions about candidates, they look for positive evidence of:
  • Sound faith and spiritual life and active participation in the life of the Church, including involvement in local parish activities or with other service projects.
  • A religious spirit appropriate to the applicant’s age, with a sincere interest in responding to a religious missionary calling.
  • Concern and openness for the missionary vocation, concern for others and generosity of spirit.
  • The necessary talent for the education required.
  • Sound physical and mental health/emotional stability.
  • Social skills appropriate to the applicant’s age.
  • Ability to accept responsibility.
  • Sense of purpose in life.
  • The capacity for and a pattern of lived celibacy for an appropriate period of time.
  • Willingness to live in a cross-cultural environment.
What is the difference between a priest and a Brother?
A religious priest or brother belongs to a particular religious order, such as the Franciscans, Jesuits, Benedictines, or Divine Word Missionaries. Each religious order is founded to fulfill a particular need in the Church through various ministries like teaching, monastic prayer and missionary service. Priests perform sacramental ministry such as celebrating Mass and administering the sacraments. Brothers belong to these religious orders as “lay religious” (not ordained) and take the same vows of chastity, poverty and obedience as religious priests. They witness to God’s Kingdom on earth and serve the Church in many ways but do not perform sacramental ministry.
What is the difference between a religious priest and a diocesan priest?
As explained above, a religious priest belongs to a particular religious order. Each religious order is founded to fulfill a particular need in the Catholic Church through various ministries. “Order priests” can be assigned to any location and any ministry where their religious congregation is present. A diocesan priest is one who is responsible primarily to the bishop of his particular diocese, a specific geographical region of the Church governed by the bishop. Within this region, the priest usually serves in a parish, though he may also be involved in other ministries like administration, communications, teaching and hospital or prison chaplaincy. Diocesan priests do not take any vows, but promise chastity and obedience to their bishops. Both religious and diocesan priests perform sacramental ministry.
Do you offer vocational retreats?
At present we do not have specific vocational retreats, but we do offer our “Come and See” visits at Divine Word College and other ministry locations. This is an opportunity to visit the campus and other ministry locations to learn more about the Society of the Divine Word. Visitors meet with the Divine Word College community as they experience a day in the life of a Divine Word College student. The schedule balances time for prayer, liturgy, class participation and personal interaction with students, faculty and staff. You will meet some of our Divine Word Missionaries and have an interview with one of our vocation directors. You will also have time to relax and have some fun, too!
How do I pay for the seminary? How do I pay for my transportation?
All Divine Word College seminary students receive a scholarship! Qualified students sincerely interested in studying for a religious life as a Divine Word Missionary will never be turned away because of inability to pay. Some college students, if they qualify, pay part of their tuition through student loans and state and federal aid. Various other DWC scholarships are available as well. Transportation costs are included in your financial aid package.
I was born in another country. Can I go back and visit my family there?
Yes. Many of our students in formation are from different countries and return to visit their families, at their own expense, during scheduled vacation times. Students must be mindful of immigration laws and requirements.  Once you become a professed Divine Word Missionary, travel to your home country is determined and paid for by Province policy.
What are the campus facilities like?
The main buildings at Divine Word College contain classrooms, dormitories, a gym and weight room, indoor swimming pool, state of the art library and computer labs, dining areas, and offices and living quarters for the SVD members. Our beautiful chapel with its unique stained glass windows is the center of spiritual life within the College, and our 30-acre campus provides opportunities for outdoor recreation, including soccer, baseball and tennis. The Heritage Trail is nearby and offers hiking, biking and cross-country skiing. On campus, you can relax with friends in the College “Pour House” – which features a snack bar, game room and recreation area. You might join our photography club or choose to be matched with an area family as part of our FAN (Friends Across Nations) club. Whatever your interests may be, there’s something for everyone at Divine Word College.