Seminary after High School or College First?


So I am currently 16 years old, an incoming High School Senior by the start of the school year (July) and am thinking where to go after graduation.

Currently I am discerning a vocation to the priesthood and it is still strong. I am thinking of entering the Seminary right after High School but my parents suggest that I should attend college education in order to give me time to discern and enjoy my youth. (Especially to interact with the opposite sex, since I am currently studying in an all-boys school) Another reason is that, if ever anything happens (such as supporting the family in case my parents retire or become physically incapable or God is directing me to a different vocation) I have a fallback in working for a job.

In your opinion (especially priests in this forum who deal with vocations) should I follow my parents and attend college education or enter the seminary right away?

And, if I graduate from college and that vocation is still alive, which seminary should I enter?
Should I enter the College Seminary or the Senior Seminary if that case happens?


I’m not a priest, but I would recommend going to the Seminary right after high school. Unless you want to be a special priest who uses a secular degree (like a priest scientist, priest bio-ethictsis, priest high-school non-theology teacher, etc) I would recommend going to the Seminary first.

As a priest (with your Bishop’s permission) you could always pursue further degrees like an JCD, PhD, MT, STB, STL, STD, ThD, MBA, MA, MS, JD, etc

I mentioned MBA, because I know of a few priests who have received their MBAs or another Master’s degree to help them learn to be better managers of their parish / diocese. Others might receive a masters in a subject that allows them to teach high school.

In the US, seminarians out of high school earn a bachelors degree in philosophy before starting work in theology for their Master of Divinity degree. A degree in philosophy (esp from a seminary) can provide you with the background necessary for a masters in almost any of the humanities.

Finally, one of the reasons the seminary is a long time is to allow the decernment process. There are many who go to the seminary and learn they are not cut out for the priestly life. But the classes taken for philosophy (or the degree of finished) will not be waisted. If you decided you didn’t want to be a priest, you can always go back to college. But going to college first can rack up debt and or a desire to have work experience first. Also, unless you attend a college with a very strong Catholic identity, college could lead you away from the Church (even if only for a few years).

So my personal recommendation (assuming that your seminaries are similar to the ones here in the US) go straight to seminary.

God Bless


What he said.


Ditto. Just because you enter a seminary doesn’t mean you will become a priest. Usually the first year or so is about discernment (not that the other years aren’t about discernment but the first year or so especially are).


My opinion is in line with your parents. I would suggest a college or university with a strong, orthodox Catholic community.


It’s interesting that you say this. I for one think we need more High School Seminaries.

God Bless


I’m not a priest either, but I am discerning a call to the permanent diaconate. One of the blessings that I have as an aspirant in the diaconate, is that we have two wonderful seminaries in my diocese where we study. This also allows me to see the young men who study at the seminary and it also allows me to see the faculty.

What I would suggest, if you haven’t done so already, is to visit the seminary and for you and your parents to meet with the Vocations Office and see what they have to tell you. I feel this would help both you and your parents discern the potential call.

Both options that you lay out have merits, but you have to decide which is best. We just recently had a man ordained who was in his early 50’s. He already had a career when he entered the seminary. I’m not sure what all he had to do since he didn’t have an undergraduate degree in philosophy, but your vocations director can lay that all out for you.

I will pray for you, your parents, and all the others discerning a potential call to the priesthood.

Blessings for what is to come!



Another thing to remember is that you should talk to your diocesan office of vocations, assuming that is the direction you are discerning. They, not you, will determine which seminary you attend.


I knew a couple of young men who were in a high school seminary and told me they regretted it. It was prom night and we were at a friend’s house who was hosting a pre-party for about 40 couples.

He told me, and I remember it to this day, that he regrets not having these normal life experiences and he thought it was imperative to do so before discerning a vocation to the priesthood.

Both he and the other man left the seminary and are now married.

I also was at a youth event where our former bishop, the wonderful Bishop Wester, spoke to the high school students about his experience going straight into the seminary and how very difficult it is as. It seemed to me he didn’t recommend it either. This same bishop has spoken with both of my sons about the priesthood so I know he is a strong advocate of priestly vocations.

I understand the need to preserve our young men so they can discern their vocation in a nurturing environment. My own son has a similar situation. I just don’t know if it’s the right way to go about it.


I have attended diocesan vocation events throughout my high school years, and I have discussed this with many seminarians and priests. I got a lot of mixed reactions. Some said that the seminary is a great place to go after high school, and some said that college life should be experienced before seminary. When I was a sophomore in high school (currently a junior in college), I thought I wanted to go to seminary right after high school, but as the years went on, I realized I wasn’t ready for it. I felt that the seminary would be too structured for me. Of course, that might be my own preconceived notion, but I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed it right after high school. Transitioning from high school to college is hard, but transitioning from high school to the seminary seems harder to me.

I still consider seminary after college a possibility, but I’m not sure. I think, in all honesty, it boils down to the individual person. Some men might like the life of a seminarian after high school. Others may find it how I did - very structured and rigid. This is why it’s important to attend any events that the seminary might hold. You get a taste for what to expect.


That is why, taking up a course in college would seem a discernment stage for me. If I feel that God is still calling me to be a priest after college, then I would enter the seminary.

I do not know who I must turn to. I do not want to bring dishonor to my parents if I do not listen to them. But God is calling me. I am really confused.


Check out colleges that are very orthodox. It could be a win-win. :slight_smile:


Keep in mind that the first 4 years of Seminary is college, just with a structured prayer life.

As someone previously posted, the best advice is to schedule an appointment with your vocations office and speak with them. Bring your parents.

Tell your parents, you just want to learn more about being a priest, not sign up.

Also, it’s important to note that some parents might not know or understand that Priests do receive real college degrees in the Seminary.

Anyway, a meeting with the vocations office would be a great way for you and your parents to have your questions/concerns addressed & discussed.

God Bless


Exactly… in our diocese, the guys who enter the lower seminary (college level) attend a Catholic college that is local. They attend along with guys and gals who are not pursuing a potential calling to priesthood. The differences I am not fully aware of, but basically, they are philosophy majors in college, have a structured prayer life, and do some other things.

As stated before, it would be best to talk with a vocations director. He can give you all the answers that you seek information-wise. I can’t tell you what would be needed to enter into the upper seminary after you attend college, but I would think that you would need to get a degree in philosophy if you did want to become a priest. What does that all entail if say you have a degree in Chemistry or Business, etc. It may mean you need four more years of undergraduate college, or it may be something less.




First of all, talk to your vocations director and see what they recommend.

My brother is currently in minor seminary and we have had several friends who have also entered the seminary. Basically my experience is this, if you get nearly any bachelor’s degree before you enter the seminary, they will start you off in a major seminary, but you will have to take up to 3 years of make-up theology and philosophy classes before starting the major seminary classes. If you can go straight into a minor seminary, you will be able to take the required theology and philosophy classes, and possibly double major in something that you can use if you discern out of the seminary.

To me, it makes sense to go straight to the minor seminary. That way, you are still getting your bachelors degree and don’t have to spend 4 years getting your bachelor’s only to find out you are 3 years behind on classes for the major seminary. I believe most minor seminaries still allow plenty of opportunity for socialization with other people, including women.


I think that if you are not certain which choice to make and you feel an equal pull in both directions…then you should go to regular college first.

The experience you gain there is unique and invaluable and the varied people you’d meet would only enhance your abilities as a priest later on.
And after a few years of college, you will be all the more sure of your decision for a vocation.

Plus…your parents know you well and are suggesting for you to take time to have more interaction with women. They must think that getting married/having kids is a very real option for you since they are advising you need/should get more experience in that area before making a big life decision for your future.

I totally agree that is a wise, sound thing to do.

I assume you would not have any female classmates in Seminary, right?




I agree completely with this poster.

The fact that you have been in an all boys’ high school is, for me, a strong argument for attending a good Catholic college and mixing with those of the opposite sex. If you have a priestly vocation, it will still be there after college. We need priests who are well rounded, and who have experienced normal, healthy social interactions on a day to day basis during their formative years. I think this is especially important in the current post (hopefully) Catholic clerical scandal environment.

God bless you as you discern.


This depends on the Seminary. Some seminaries are actually divisions of a larger Catholic University. Seton Hall University and Mount Saint Mary’s University are two examples, they both have Seminaries.

Also if a seminary offers Masters of Theology degrees to lay people, then if a seminarian is doing a double major in MDiv and MA Theology degrees, then they will most likely have classes with women.

Minor Seminary (undergraduate) depends on the seminary or house of formation. As someone mentioned before, some diocese and/or religious orders have a house of formation for the undergraduate years on the campus of a Catholic college. The Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception for example have a house of formation for their undergrads at Franciscian University of Steubenville. The Augustinians often have some of their seminarians spend some time at Villanova University.

So point is, depending on the Diocese and/or religious order, seminarians might have some classes with women.

God Bless!


It is completely different in the Philippines. Only boys study in the seminary and they do their college seminary itself. Especially in San Carlos Seminary (the seminary which is close to us around here) they have their college studies in the Seminary complex itself

In the Philippines, the minor seminary is the high school seminary. Now that I am to graduate from high school a year from now, it is either I enter the college seminary if I resolve to enter straight into the seminary, or the senior seminary if I graduate a degree in college.


Ok, still recommend visiting with the vocations office. God Bless

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