School of Theology Policy
Language study while in a degree program at the School of Theology is encouraged when possible. Biblical, classical, and modern foreign language study is possible at Boston University and through Boston Theological Institute schools.
Modern Foreign Languages and Classical Languages (not Biblical)
Master of Divinity, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Sacred Music, and Master of Sacred Theology Students
While master’s-level students are encouraged to increase their understanding of and ability to communicate with the non-English-speaking world, credit for language study will only be granted if approved by petition to one’s advisor and the academic dean and if a level of competence in that language is integral to the student’s degree program.
Doctor of Philosophy Students
All students in the program are required to demonstrate competency in at least two modern foreign languages (normally, German, French, or Spanish) according to the provisions of the PhD handbook. Substitutions for this requirement for classical languages or qualitative and quantitative research methods are discussed in the handbooks. Registration in a University language course is encouraged if necessary, but such registration is not considered part of the course load required for satisfactory academic progress or financial aid. Courses taken to meet language requirements do not count toward the required coursework for the PhD.
While the study of biblical languages is not required for the Master of Divinity degree, it is considered normative in preparation for ministry. MTS students with specializations in either Hebrew Bible or New Testament studies are required to demonstrate competence in biblical Hebrew or New Testament Greek. Competence is achieved by successful completion of two 3-credit courses and a 2-credit reading course in the biblical language. Master of Divinity students may complete the Hebrew Bible II or New Testament II core elective requirement by studying a biblical language. Students who choose to complete this option must complete two 3-credit courses and one 2-credit reading course in the biblical language.
Students in the STM program may enroll in formal study of any biblical, classical, or ancient Near Eastern languages appropriate to their major for full credit toward the degree, up to a maximum of 12 credits (the requirement of 800 level or higher courses does not apply in these cases).
It is assumed that PhD students in Hebrew Bible or New Testament studies will have achieved advanced competence in either biblical Hebrew or Greek prior to admission to the program. Beginning coursework in biblical languages does not accumulate for credit in the PhD degree program. Examination in biblical languages is required of all PhD students studying Hebrew Bible or New Testament prior to the semester of comprehensive examinations.
International Student English Requirements
The School of Theology requires all non-native speakers of English to demonstrate competence in the English language as part of their degree program. International students who have studied in other American seminaries or universities before their admission into Boston University are not excused from the requirement.
If any faculty member finds that a student’s English preparation is inadequate for coursework, a recommendation can be made to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs that the student be required to undertake additional English language study. The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs will then work with the student to determine if this is the case, and will either recommend resources to the student or will require the student to pursue further English preparation, depending on which is necessary. If the student requires further work in English, the student will be placed in coursework through the University’s Center for English Language and Orientation Programs (CELOP), at the expense of the student.
A non-native speaker of English is defined as one who holds an F-1, F-2, J-1, or J-2 visa and whose primary language of instruction in his or her formal education (including primary and secondary schooling and college, university, or seminary training) was not conducted in English. A Resident Alien is not required to take the English Placement Examination, although in some cases such persons have needed and benefited from additional work in English.
Master of Divinity and Master of Theological Studies degree candidates must register as full-time students, complete 18 semester credit hours for two semesters, and earn at least three-fourths of their total semester credits in the School of Theology (or other approved courses within the University). The entire Master of Sacred Music (MSM) degree must be completed on the Boston University campus, although MSM students may take up to one Boston Theological Institute (BTI)course to fulfill their theology requirements. BTI courses do not count toward residency requirements. BTI courses taken during the summer are counted as transfer credit and may not be used to satisfy core requirements.
Master of Sacred Theology and Doctor of Philosophy degree candidates must complete six courses (STM) or eight courses (PhD) at Boston University. Candidates who are not previous School of Theology graduates must register as full-time students for two full semesters (they need not be consecutive), paying full tuition each semester.
Doctor of Ministry degree candidates may earn their degrees as part-time students.