Today in the Mission Yearbook

Princeton Theological Seminary expands online offerings and grows its community of lifelong learners


President Walton calls for more flexible, inclusive and accessible learning opportunities

December 3, 2023

Dr. Johnna Herrick-Phelps

Princeton Theological Seminary is expanding its suite of flexible and accessible learning opportunities, executed by a growing team of education leaders with extensive experience in delivering engaging online education.

“Princeton Theological Seminary sits at the intersection of tradition and innovation, at a time when education — and theological education, in particular — is rapidly changing,” said the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Lee Walton, president of Princeton Theological Seminary. “We must accelerate the work underway to meet the moment to attract learners at every stage of their journeys and careers. This requires flexibility and a more inclusive approach to teaching and learning.”

Dr. Johnna Herrick-Phelps, the school’s first-ever Associate Dean for Online and Digital Learning, will lead this new focused effort. As a senior leader in the Office of Academic Affairs, Herrick-Phelps brings more than a decade of experience in higher education, with deep expertise in building and growing online teaching and learning opportunities.

“Johnna’s leadership, coupled with our world-class faculty and staff, will create systems and structures that bring the extraordinary resources and experiences of Princeton Seminary to more faith leaders, the faithful and the curious,” said Walton.

Herrick-Phelps’ arrival coincided with the launch of a Master of Arts in Theology (MAT) program that focuses on justice and public life. As the Seminary’s first online degree program, this rigorous 24-month degree track is designed for working professionals, with flexible and accessible digital programming and limited on-campus requirements.

The Rev. Dr. Jonathan Lee Walton

That kind of approach to meeting learners where they are is what Herrick-Phelps hopes to build upon in her new role. In addition to the new MAT program, there is a growing portfolio of online and hybrid options. The full range of professional programming can meet the needs of any lifelong learner, including global convenings, certificate programs, and coursework that taps into the deep expertise of the seminary’s faculty.

“Princeton Theological Seminary already has an incredible legacy of changing lives, and we want to make that experience accessible to even more people and more diverse communities of learners. Whether you’re a practicing minister or a social worker, educator, or interdisciplinary leader working for change in your community, we have something to offer that will help you develop and advance faith-informed solutions to the big challenges we face today,” said Herrick-Phelps. “The instant interest and demand we are seeing speaks to the changing needs of learners, and the opportunity we have before us to make Princeton Seminary the premier institution in the country and beyond for online theological education.”

Current students in the inaugural MAT cohort range in age from 23 to 63, and include legal professionals and higher education leaders as well as finance and nonprofit leaders, among other faith-informed professionals.

“We haven’t even discovered yet all the ways we can engage and inspire our students online, but with the backing of more than 200 years of theological excellence and a dynamic and dedicated faculty, we are excited to invite more people into our learning community for life,” said Walton.

Prior to joining Princeton Theological Seminary this year, Herrick-Phelps was the chief online learning officer at Champlain College Online, where she oversaw more than 60 online programs that attracted thousands of online students each year.

To learn more about the online, hybrid and continuing education opportunities available, visit

Princeton Theological Seminary, Special to Presbyterian News Service

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, December 3, 2023, the First Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Today’s Focus: Princeton Theological Seminary

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Rheannon Sicely, Director, Implementation & Continuous Improvement, Board of Pensions
Manuel Silva-Esterrich, Manager, Call Process Support, Ordered Ministry & Certification, Office of the General Assembly

Let us pray

O Holy Spirit, open each new generation to your renewing wind. Blow afresh in our lives, that we all might be empowered to do your will in service and love. Amen.