Have a seminary student on your list? Here are some gift ideas that will encourage and equip them for this busy and formative season of life.
As you may have guessed, some of these are affiliate links. This just means if you click them and make a purchase I get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Even so, these are items I personally would recommend based on my own experience at seminary.
While these ideas are in no particular order, this is purposefully at the top of the list. These “Nice” brand bookstands are pretty much essential for paper writing, as they allow you to keep a book open hands free as you write, and the wire page holders make sure it stays on the right page.
You can adjust the angle and fold up the ledge for tossing it into your bag. These stands come in several sizes, but I found that the 12.8×9 to be a good size for just about any book.
Prices range from about $13 to $27, so its a great gift at an affordable price. Pick one up on Amazon.
Pens & Highlighters
No real explanation needed here. Pens and highlighters are always needed. While it is obviously a matter of personal preference, in my opinion you can’t beat the Pilot G2 for pens or the Sharpie Smear Guard highlighters.
Backpacks are for high school and college. When you get to seminary, its nice to have something a bit more classy. There are a wide range of options for messenger bags, but this one from Amazon is a good one. It’s leather, has room for your laptop (up to 15.6″), and can fit a fair amount of books.
Comes in a variety of color options and it has over 6,700 5-star ratings. Purchase on Amazon.
There are a number of subscription ideas that would be helpful for the seminarian, both digital and physical. Here are a few options:
- Scribd | Scribd is a digital library of books, magazine, and audiobooks. I primarily use and recommend it for the audiobooks. In addition to being able to lighten the reading load when possible, this also makes it easier to take in other books that otherwise wouldn’t be feasible given the amount of assigned reading. A Scrbid subscription also includes access to Pandora Plus (ad-free music), Curiosity Stream (like Netflix but documentaries), and more. Subscribe here for 60 days free.
- Tabletalk Magazine | This resource from Ligonier includes articles to deepen theological understanding and devotionals to draw our hearts closer to God. New issues come out monthly. Subscribe here.
- Expositor Magazine | This magazine comes from the ministry of Steven J. Lawson and is devoted to calling those who stand in pulpits to the high standard of biblical preaching. Subscribe here.
You an use book darts to keep tabs on sections of a book you know you’ll have to reference again and again, or mark key areas for studying for the next exam.
This tin of book darts has 125 markers, so you can use a whole lot of them before running out.
Gift cards are always a good idea. Of course you can give something versatile, like Amazon, Target, or Wal-Mart where they can decide to splurge on something they want or pick up some necessities to make their budget stretch further.
But here’s a slight improvement on giving generic gift cards: pick up gift cards for restaurants near the campus they attend and let them know that part of the purpose is for them to take a fellow student or better yet a professor out to lunch. This will help them deepen relationships while attending seminary. You’d be surprised at how willing many professors are to make time for their students, and if they are nudged to ask them by your gift I’m sure the seminary student you’re buying for would gain a lot from the interactions.
If the seminary student has a preaching lab or is actively serving in a teaching or preaching role while attending school, I highly recommend getting them a nice 3-ring binder. This looks much better than bringing loose papers or a typically white three-ring binder to the pulpit. This is also a nice thing to have for performing weddings, funerals, or even teaching Sunday School classes.
To make it easier to go through their pages, I recommend picking up some page protectors as well.
This isn’t meant to be used for organization but for presentation. Most of the time these will only have about 12 pages or less, so they don’t need to be very thick – 1/2 inch should do it. The purpose here is style points, so I recommend one that looks like leather. Here’s a good binder on Amazon.
If your seminary student is married, and especially if they are married with kids, consider making it possible for them to take a family outing. This could be tickets to a nearby attraction, items for a movie night, money for a babysitter so mom and dad can have a date, or anything else that makes it possible to reconnect.
Both time and money are usually tight in the seminary years, so an encouragement to make time for being together as a family will be a great way to support them.
There are a number of ways that having a voice recorder could come in handy for the seminarian. If they have to miss a class, they can send the recorder with a friend so they can listen to the lecture later. There are many times where the ability to re-listen to a lecture would also be a help for studying for a final. Also, it can be helpful to record presentations and sermons so that you can listen to them yourself, evaluate your delivery, and make changes (this is often a required part of preaching labs).
Yes, you can record things on your phone these days but with a voice recorder you don’t have to worry about using up space on your phone and you can send it with another student when you won’t be in class. There are a lot of options out there, but I have liked mine from Olympus. It is easy to use, the audio quality is good, and the USB connection is built in to transfer the files to your computer. (If you ever had the need, there are even lapel mics you can get that are compatible for even better sound quality).
Studying in public places can be easier with a good pair of headphones. For those who like Apple products, Air Pods are typically the way to go. For us non-Apple users, I recommend these earbuds from JLab. The sound quality is very good, they fit in the ears well (even on a jog) and the case has USB attached for easy charging. Plus, they aren’t very expensive – just about $30.
With any headphones you go with, you’re going to want Bluetooth. Messing with wired headphones is a pain, and these wireless ones are hassle free and you can go many hours without having to recharge them.
I would strongly recommend that seminary students keep a “commonplace” notebook to record insights from professors, quotations from their reading assignments, reflections on their spiritual progress, ideas for future ministry, and just about anything else that they wish to keep accessible for future reference.
This is different than having a notebook for a specific class, as you record anything and everything in it – whether it be a helpful application from a chapel speaker, a quote from a book you’ve read, or any other observations they want to record.
This notebook from Amazon is a high quality option that comes in a gift box, has 8 color options, and has great reviews.
A universal experience for every seminarian is lots and lots of reading. Students often have to stay up late in order to keep up with the assigned reading, and so a good desk lamp. Consider getting one that has multiple light modes so they can pick a setting that is easy on the eyes for late-night studying. Many include USB or even wireless phone chargers, which is a bonus.
Seminary is an exciting but difficult season. In addition to the heavy workload there are the realities of tight budgets, competing commitments, little free time, and the challenges that accompany spiritual formation. You can help them keep things in perspective by sending along something for them to put on their desk or in the room where they study.
Our digital products can be downloaded to be printed and framed. Our Pilgrim’s Progress poster is a great looking decoration as well as a helpful reminder to trust God throughout all the ups and downs of our journey to the Celestial City in the world that is to come.
Check out more of our digital products, such as our vintage hymn prints, at our store page.
Chances are pretty good that the seminary student on your list loves books. But they are buying and reading so many books for class that they are unlikely to be able to squeeze any additional reading in. But that doesn’t mean that any and all books should be off the gift list! Reference tools can be a welcome help for personal study, getting more out of class, sermon prep, and more.
Here are some recommended reference tools that are unlikely to be assigned for class but can be a big help:
- Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Revised and Expanded
- Matthew Henry’s Bible Commentary
- The Pastor’s Book: A Comprehensive and Practical Guide to Pastoral Ministry
- The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
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