tuition and financial aid

The School of Theology assumes that all its students are in need of significant financial help to afford their seminary education. That is why the vast majority of students studying here receive generous financial aid. The cost of the School of Theology’s tuition is less than half the cost of attending Boston University at the undergraduate level. We allocate the financial aid funds offered by the University, the United Methodist Church, and individual donors as widely as possible to benefit the most students. Additional merit fellowships are set aside to reward academic excellence and extra-curricular distinction. For all of these reasons we expect that School of Theology graduates will be able to follow their vocational passions without being weighed down by tremendous educational debt upon graduation.

To qualify for financial aid, a student must register for 6 to 14 credit hours per semester. Full-time is 9-14 credits per semester. Part-time is 6-8 credits per semester. Registering for 15 credits or more is considered overload and requires the authorization of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. No students registered for less than 6 credit hours are eligible to receive financial aid. For part-time students receiving financial aid from STH, the total financial aid award cannot exceed the equivalent aid award for a full-time student enrolled in the same degree program.

All scholarships, fellowships, and awards are subject to satisfactory academic progress, need, submission of financial aid application(s), and the availability of funds. The School of Theology maintains a rolling admissions policy for all master’s degrees, which means that there is no cut-off date for acceptance into the School for those degrees. However, it is in the student’s best interest to be admitted to the School of Theology as soon as possible. Financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

The School of Theology accepts and applies the principles of student financial aid approved by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada. Most accredited seminaries follow these principles as the most fair guide to distribution of financial aid. Their application helps to eliminate financial considerations as a primary reason for choosing a theological school.

Below are some helpful summaries of tuition, financial aid, and financial aid policies at the School of Theology:

Tuition, fees, residence and board charges, and any previous balance must be paid in full each semester before the payment deadline; missed payments and deadlines will result in late fees. Invoices are sent by Student Accounting Services to students several weeks before the start of the semester. All payments should be directed to Student Accounting Services, 881 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215-1390, 617-353-2264.

The University does not accept credit cards as payment of tuition, fees, room and board, etc. Checks must be made payable to Boston University. Other accepted payment methods: Electronic Payment (via Student Link), Credit Card (part-time students ONLY), and Wire Transfer.

Although the University does not offer its own deferred payment plan for full-time students, students may arrange for financing through private agencies. This should be done well before the start of the academic year. Information on such plans may be viewed here.

The University assumes no liability for failure to provide educational or related services arising from causes beyond the reasonable control of the University. The University will exert reasonable efforts to provide comparable or substantially equivalent services, but its inability to do so shall not subject it to liability. The Trustees of the University reserve the right to change tuition rates, fees, and residence and board charges at their discretion when it is deemed advisable.

Tuition and Mandatory Fees

It has been and remains the policy of Boston University to withhold all diplomas, degrees, official transcripts, and other official recognition of work done at the University from students with respect to whom there are any outstanding overdue debts to the University, including, but not limited to, amounts owed in satisfaction of tuition, loan agreements, fees, and charges as well as monies owed for occupancy in University-owned or operated residences and for dining service. No student may withdraw from the University in good standing or graduate from the University unless all current obligations to the University are paid in full.

The following tuition rates apply from September 2018-August 2019:
Full-time Master’s Students (those enrolled for 9 to 14 credits per semester): $10,352/semester

Part-time Master’s Students (those enrolled for 6 to 8 credits per semester): $863/credit

D.Min. in Transformational Leadership Part-Time Students: $647/credit

PhD Students who matriculated prior to Fall 2014: $647/credit

Full-time PhD Students who matriculated in Fall 2014 or later: $26,408/semester

Part-time PhD Students who matriculated in Fall 2014 or later: $1,651/credit

Fees for Full-time Students and Students Certified Full-Time with a Part-Time Courseload:

  • Student Services Fee: $166/semester
  • Health and Wellness Fee: $212/semester
  • STH Community Fee: $62/semester
  • STH Graduate Program Fee $124 (charged in Fall only) or $60 for students entering in Spring

Part-time Fees (Including Non-Degree Students)

  • Student Services Fee: $60/semester
  • STH Community Fee: $62/semester

D.Min. in Transformation Leadership Fees

  • Student Services Fee: $60/semester
  • STH Community Fee $62/semester
  • Technology Fee $60/credit in online course

Medical Insurance

Massachusetts law requires all students carrying at least 75 percent of the full-time curriculum to be covered under a qualifying medical insurance plan. If the student does not wish to participate in the Boston University Medical Insurance plan, they must annually file a Medical Insurance Waiver form that certifies coverage under a comparable medical insurance plan. The Medical Insurance Waiver form can be found here. Students, including those who are international, seeking to waive the Boston University Medical Insurance must read here. The 2018-2019 Basic rate is $2,205.  The 2018-2019 Plus rate is $2,973.  Prospective students should see the Student Accounting website for the most up-to-date prices and plan information.

Additional Costs

In addition to academic costs, each student must prepare for life in Boston. Boston is an expensive city in which to live but well worth it, and students who employ careful financial planning and budgeting can achieve a good quality of life without succumbing to extraordinary debt. While the School of Theology does everything it can to help students plan, best financial practices are the responsibility of each student’s own household.

  • Books & Supplies – Graduate students should budget $1,412/year for books and supplies.
  • Housing – Students coming from less-expensive areas of the country should be prepared for high housing costs in particular. Students should budget at least $700/month for single students and $1200/month for coupled students for decent, affordable housing within a comfortable commuting distance of the School of Theology. The School of Theology Admissions Office has
    relationships with several landlords, realtors, and institutions that can help students find such housing.
  • Incidental Expenses – Boston University recommends that graduate students budget approximately $4,170 per year for incidental expenses, which vary with individual circumstances. Incidental expenses include transportation, laundry, clothing, recreation, and miscellaneous expenditures. See feed the pig for tips on savings.
  • Late Fees – Late fees may be assessed to those students who complete their official registration during the late registration period. Late fees escalate on a regular basis. Late fees will not be reversed or waived for failure to register on a timely basis. It is the responsibility of the student (not the University) to complete the registration process. Information on payment deadlines and late fees can be found here.
  • Transcripts – To request an academic transcript of grades and coursework, a student should submit a Transcript Request form to the Office of the Registrar. Full instructions on ordering a transcript can be found here.
  • Replacement of Boston University Identification Card – (Terrier Card) $40

Almost all Boston University STH Master’s and PhD students receive a partial or full-tuition scholarship. Information about the scholarships available to STH students is available: here.

Students in the Doctor of Ministry in Transformational Leadership program are not eligible for financial aid from the School of Theology.  However, there are resources to assist these students with academic costs:

  • Additional Scholarships -To aid students in their scholarship search, the School of Theology’s Financial Aid Office maintains a large list of outside awards and scholarships, arranged by eligibility, here.
  • Federal Unsubsidized Loan – Students taking at least 6 credits per semester are eligible to apply for a federal unsubsidized loan.  For more on how to apply, see the “How to Apply for Financial Aid” section on this page.

To be eligible for School of Theology and federal student aid funds, a student must make satisfactory academic progress each semester.  For a description of what satisfactory academic progress entails for each degree program, please see the STH Bulletin.

The following policies were developed in consultation with the Federal Student Aid Handbook.

Length of Time for Financial Aid Coverage

The length of time a student is eligible for School of Theology financial aid depends on his or her degree program. Generally, a full-time semester of aid can be split into two part-time semesters of aid. However, students must also abide by the time limitations of each degree. A full-time or part-time semester of aid may be used in the summer.

Degree Full-Time Semesters of  Aid Part-Time Semesters of Aid Time Limitation
MDiv 6 12 5 Academic Years
MTS or MSM 4 8 4 Academic Years
STM 2 4 2 Academic Years
PhD 10 N/A 7 Academic Years

It is also important that a student track the number of credits remaining to complete his or her degree requirements.  While number of semesters remaining is the most common method for tracking financial aid eligibility, the School of Theology also reviews the number of credits remaining to complete degree requirements. The School of Theology does not provide financial aid to students past the number of credits they need to meet their program requirements.*  Therefore, if students apply for a course overload in one or more semesters, this may leave them with a small number of credits to complete in their final semester and they will only receive financial aid towards the number of credits needed.  In that circumstance, the number of credits remaining supersedes the number of semesters of financial aid eligibility.  The student has the option to enroll in additional courses past the number of credits required to complete the degree, but they will be at the student’s own cost.  Likewise, students taking fewer than 12 credits per semester may end up using all of their semesters of financial aid eligibility prior to completing their degree requirements.  For these reasons, students should be cautious in keeping in mind their maximum number of semesters of financial aid eligibility and their remaining credits when planning their registration each semester.

If a student receives a failing grade, the School of Theology will not provide financial aid for a course taken to replace the failed course. Similarly, the School of Theology will not provide financial aid for any tuition charges of a dropped course. If you are considering withdrawing, taking a leave of absence, or dropping a course as a part-time student, please review Boston University’s Withdrawal and Tuition Refund Schedule.

*Full-time School of Theology MDiv, MSM, and MTS students may take Seminary Singers (up-to 2 credits) and/or Spiritual Companioning (up-to 2 credits) without counting them toward their degree program free electives. In that case, the credits do not count toward a student’s financial aid eligibility. Students, however, may count those credits toward degree program free electives if they wish, in which case they would count toward a student’s financial aid eligibility.

Financial Aid Warning

If a student fails to maintain satisfactory academic progress according to the appropriate student review committee for their degree program, they may receive a financial aid warning which applies to their School of Theology financial aid and, if the student has it, their federal financial aid.  For example, if a student fails to make satisfactory academic progress in the Fall semester, they may be placed under a financial aid warning in the Spring semester.  The warning period lasts for one semester during which the student may continue to receive School of Theology and federal financial aid funds.  The student’s academic progress is evaluated at the end of the warning period.  Financial aid warnings can occur after a student’s first semester of enrollment.

Financial Aid Probation

Students who fail to make satisfactory progress after the financial aid warning period may continue to receive their School of Theology financial aid for the following semester as a grace period.  However, the student loses their federal financial aid eligibility unless they successfully appeal the School of Theology Academic Services Team and are placed on financial aid probation.   A student may appeal on the basis of: injury or illness, the death of a relative, or other special circumstances.  The appeal must explain why the student failed to make satisfactory academic progress and what has changed in their situation that will allow them to make satisfactory academic progress at the next evaluation.   Financial aid probation lasts for one semester and means that the student’s eligibility for federal financial aid is reinstated for that semester.  The student’s progress will be evaluated at the end of the financial aid probation period.

If, based on the student’s appeal, the STH Academic Services Team decides that the student should be able to meet satisfactory academic progress by the end of the next payment period then the student may be placed on financial aid probation with or without an academic plan.   If an academic plan has been devised for the student (by the appropriate student review committee for their degree program) and they are meeting its requirements, they are eligible to receive federal financial aid as long as they continue to meet the plan’s requirements.

GPA Requirements and Financial Aid

If a student receives a failing grade in a course, the School of Theology will not provide financial aid for a course taken to replace the failed course.

If a Dean’s Scholarship recipient does not meet the required 3.5 cumulative GPA at the end of an academic year, the student will receive their Dean’s Scholarship as a grace period for the upcoming semester and the tuition scholarship pertaining to their degree program for the semester following the grace period.  If the student is able to raise their cumulative GPA to a 3.5 or better at the end of the grace period, their Dean’s Scholarship will automatically be reinstated for the following semester.  If a student does not achieve a cumulative 3.5 GPA by the end of the grace period but achieves a 3.5 semester GPA they may appeal the STH Academic Services Team to retain their scholarship moving forward.

If a Tuition Scholarship recipient does not meet the required 2.7 cumulative GPA at the end of an academic year, the student will receive their Tuition Scholarship as a grace period for the upcoming semester.  If the student is able to raise their cumulative GPA to a 2.7 or better at the end of the grace period, the Tuition Scholarship will be automatically reinstated for the following semester.  If the student does not achieve a cumulative 2.7 GPA by the end of the grace period but achieves a 2.7 semester GPA they may appeal to the STH Academic Services Team to retain their Tuition Scholarship moving forward.

Disciplinary Probation and Financial Aid

If a student is placed on disciplinary probation and they are either a Dean’s Scholarship, Dean’s Fellowship or Merit Scholarship recipient, they will instead receive the tuition scholarship that pertains to their degree program, unless otherwise determined by the Academic Policies, Procedures, and Fellowships Committee.

Defaulted Federal Student Aid

If a student is currently in default status on any federal student aid (Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans (where the student was the borrower), Direct Consolidation Loans, or Federal Perkins Loans), the student cannot receive any further federal or institutional student aid funds until they have resolved the default in accordance with the Federal Student Aid Handbook.

Merit Aid for Part-Time Students

The School of Theology recognizes that many students have obligations in addition to their academic studies. Therefore, if a student needs to enroll part-time (6-8 credits/semester) and the student is offered a Dean’s Fellowship, Ordination Scholarship, or Named Fellowship, the School of Theology is committed to awarding the full award according to the policies below:

  • The total amount awarded cannot exceed what the student would have received if the student completed the degree full-time
  • STH will not provide financial aid to students past the number of credits needed to complete program requirements:
    • MDiv – 73 credits
    • MTS – 49 credits
    • MSM – minimum of 44 (choral conducting) or 41 (organ)
  • The degree must be completed within the time limitations named in the STH Academic Bulletin:
    • MDiv – 5 years (This requires an average of 7.3 credits/semester over 10 semesters)
    • MTS & MSM – (This requires an average of 6.125 credits/semester over 8 semesters)
  • If the student’s award includes a stipend, the part-time student may only receive half of the stipend each year. For example, if the student would have received a $5,000 annual stipend as a full-time student, the student will receive a $2,500 annual stipend as a part-time student.
  • If a tentative graduate has not received the full amount of the stipend offered, the remaining amount will be awarded in the student’s final semester. For example, if the student would have received a $5,000 annual stipend as a full-time student (for a total of $15,000 over 3 years) and the part-time student received a $2,500 annual stipend over 10 semesters (for a total of $12,500 over 5 years), the student will receive an additional $2,500 stipend in the student’s final semester for a total of $15,000.

Students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents may apply for federal aid. To apply, students must complete both the STH financial aid application and FAFSA here. Further information on federal financial aid can be found here. Students may also apply for credit-based federal PLUS loans through the Boston University Office of Financial Assistance.

First-time borrowers must complete 1) an online master promissory note and 2) online entrance counseling. If a student has an active Master Promissory Note and has already completed online entrance counseling at a previous institution, they are not required to complete either again.

For current interest rates and loan fees, please visit the U.S. Department of Education online.

Repayment begins six months after the student borrower is no longer enrolled at least part-time in their degree program. Information on repayment can be found here.

Types of federal aid offered by the School of Theology: 

Federal Work-Study: This program is designed to help qualified students meet education expenses through employment. Jobs are available both on campus and in approved nonprofit organizations off campus. The School of Theology receives a limited amount of federal funds; preference is given to returning students who had a work-study job in the previous academic year and remaining funds are awarded to incoming students with the greatest financial need on a first-come, first-served basis.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Eligibility for federal unsubsidized loans is determined through the review of an accurate FAFSA. Students enrolled in a degree program and registered for at least 6 credit hours are eligible to apply for a federal unsubsidized loan. Note that Boston University is an approved direct lender for the federal unsubsidized loan.

Qualified students are encouraged to apply for financial aid at the School of Theology.

Stipends are divided into 4 monthly payments per semester and will be paid on the fourth Friday of each month (September-April).

U.S. citizens only will not have taxes withheld by the University but are still responsible for reporting the stipends accurately to the IRS and paying taxes if required.  See the “Financial Aid and Taxes” section of this page for more.

U.S. permanent residents/green card holders and international students will have 14% tax withheld, unless their government has a tax treaty with the U.S. and they then file the appropriate tax exempt forms with the University.  Also, see the “Financial Aid and Taxes” section of this page for more.

A student wishing to change their degree program (for example, from the MTS to the M.Div.) must make a formal request using a Change of Program form. These forms can be obtained in the STH Admissions Office and require the approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. If the Change of Program is approved and the student is changing to a degree program longer than their original program, their number of semesters of financial aid eligibility will be extended to match that of their new program. Likewise, if the program the student is changing to is shorter than their original program, their number of semesters of financial aid eligibility will be reduced to match that of their new program.

Students are not permitted to change programs in their final semester. If a student is a Tuition Scholarship recipient, their tuition scholarship percentage will be adjusted to that of their new program in the semester in which the Change of Program is effective.

All payments are made to Boston University Student Accounting Services.

Students can waive the Sports Pass fee if they wish through the Student Link>Money Matters.  More information on the Sports Pass and other fees can be found here.

Withdrawing Credit

Students can electronically request to withdraw credit (funds remaining after all charges have been paid) by using the “request a refund” option on the Account Inquiry page on the Student Link.  Students must provide a valid U.S. bank account number and the funds will be electronically deposited.  This process takes 1-2 business days after the student has made the request.

All in-school loan deferment is handled by the BU Office of the University Registrar.  All loan deferment paperwork should be submitted to them.

When completing your tax return, please be sure to consult the following information from the IRS on what is taxable income for students.  Information for international students from the IRS can be found here.  The BU Payroll Office provides tax information for international students here and here.  General tax information from the IRS for students is here.  If you have questions on what is taxable income for you, please consult a tax professional.  BU policy bars financial aid officers from tax advising.

For more information, see here.

If a student moves from part-time to full-time (or vice versa), their aid will be adjusted in relation to their new tuition charge. For example, if a Master of Divinity student moves from full-time to part-time and is registered for at least 6 credits, they would be eligible to receive 70% off the part-time tuition rate (provided that they have successfully completed the financial aid application process).

Students who officially withdraw or take a leave of absence will have their tuition and fees canceled or refunded in accordance with the University’s refund schedule, which is published by the University Registrar’s Office. The School of Theology does not provide financial aid for coursework not completed, which may leave the student owing a balance, depending on that refund schedule. Thus, for example, the School revokes its financial aid awards in cases where a full- or part-student withdraws or takes a leave, once registered. Financial aid is also revoked or reduced in cases where a part-time student drops one or more courses. In all such cases where coursework is not completed, the student’s corresponding STH scholarship will be canceled and the student will be responsible for all remaining charges (less any refunds that the University allows). For more information regarding Boston University’s refund policy, please review BU’s Withdrawal and Tuition Refund Schedule. For information regarding a mid-semester leave of absence from Boston University for medical reasons, please review these Frequently Asked Questions.

More Financial Aid Information:

Scholarships and Outside Awards

Loans and Future Annual Income