The bishops envisaged Scalan as an all-through College, one that would be both a Junior and a Senior seminary. It would take students from their early teens, when for five years they would study the typical Latin-based courses of a Scottish Grammar school as well as specifically religious courses. They would then proceed to the Senior stage, where after two years of Philosophy followed by three of Theology they would be ready for ordination to the priesthood in their mid-twenties.
In fact, however, the College very rarely fulfilled the role envisaged for it. In its eight decades of existence fewer than half a dozen priests received their entire training in it. For the great majority it served as a Junior seminary only, from where students graduated to the Scots Colleges abroad for their senior courses and subsequent ordination.