What is a Graduate Resident?



At the very heart of the Center for Youth Ministry Training’s mission to develop theologically formed and practically effective youth ministries is our graduate residency program.

Our graduate residency program creates a whole-person learning environment by nurturing residents academically in the classroom, vocationally in the local church, and personally through coaching.

Graduate residents in the program gain practical experience by serving a three-year supervised residency as a youth director in a local church. Residents are formed theologically as they study for and earn a Master of Arts in Youth Ministry through our partnership with Memphis Theological Seminary.

Graduate residents are placed at one of CYMT’s partner churches. CYMT partners with churches from different denominations in the Nashville, Memphis, and Birmingham regions, including North Alabama, North Mississippi, Eastern Arkansas, Southern Kentucky, and Middle and West Tennessee.

The CYMT graduate residency in Youth Ministry includes:

Seminary Education + Practical Experience

The graduate residency at CYMT is designed to blend theological training with practical experience in the local church—a unique approach that develops youth ministers who are then able to live fully into their call.

“Some youth ministry programs emphasize the learning of theory, others focus on practical skills, and still others emphasize internships or working in a church. What is unique about CYMT is our commitment to equip our graduate residents through balance and integration of all these foundations for youth ministry expertise.” —Andrew Zirschky, CYMT Academic Director

Why is the CYMT Graduate Residency Important?

Burnout rate:  Youth directors burnout rate is 3.9 years. CYMT’s training and coaching teach graduate residents how to sustain and thrive as a youth minister.

Staying power:  Many youth ministers leave after 18-24 months, but many stay for years. There is a direct correlation between youth minister tenure and the health of a youth ministry. 70% of CYMT residents have continued to serve their churches beyond the length of the program.

Education matters: Only around 17% of paid youth workers have theological training, CYMT graduate residents are prepared both theologically and practically to develop strong youth ministries in your church.

Accountability: CYMT coaches hold both our residents and our partner churches accountable to developing the best youth ministry we can together. Open lines of communication allow for development and growth in the ministry.

Support: All CYMT coaches have over 12 years experience in a local church. Your coach and CYMT’s full time staff is there to ensure that youth ministry happens and to help when other “stuff” happens.

Community: A community of 36 peers provide the support and relationships essential to youth director sustainability.

Debt Free: CYMT residents don’t get paid a lot of money, but they don’t build up debt from student loans, either. At the end of the program, residents will have three years solid experience, a Master of Arts in Youth Ministry, and a reference from the top youth ministry training program in the country.

Our Graduate Residents Stories

Here are a few stories of our graduate residents and their churches:

CYMT Graduate is Ordained in UMC: Jon Snape

CYMT Resident watches Program Succeed over 5 Years: Tess Frohock

An Interview with CYMT Resident: Courtney Blacksten

Called to Youth Ministry: Joanna Bellis

Do you know someone called to Youth Ministry?

Please let them know about the CYMT graduate residency program or you can nominate them by emailing our admissions department admissions@cymt.org. Our Spring application deadline is March 1.


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