Resources for Entering Students
Now that you’ve decided to join us as a student there are some next steps you should take to ensure a smooth transition into your program. The New Student Checklist below will take you through these steps one-by-one. Make sure you complete all of these steps before Orientation, and be in touch with the Admissions Office if you have any questions along the way.
New Student Checklist
Confirm Your Intent to Enroll
The first step to becoming an entering student is declaring your intent to enroll. To do so, log in to the Liaison application portal and accept your offer of admission therein. Depending on your program, you may need to pay a deposit to do so. Once you have electronically accepted your offer of admission you will move in our system from an “applicant” to an “entering student.” This will allow you to begin the steps listed in the checklist below.
Get a BU Email Address
We use email to communicate with students every few weeks until classes begin. It is important that incoming students establish a BU email address and that they check their new inbox regularly. Soon after your admission is processed you will receive an email from the Admissions Office that includes your BU Identification Number (a 9-digit number that begins with a “U”) and instructions on how to enroll in the University’s “BU Google Apps.” BU student email is powered by Gmail (Google Mail). Once you have established a BU email address and Kerberos password you will have access to the Student Link and other University resources.
Complete All Your Financial Aid Materials
Once you have confirmed your intent to enroll (step 1 on this checklist), you must communicate with the School’s Financial Aid Office so they can process your STH financial aid awards and help you secure federal aid, if necessary. All incoming students must complete the “STH Financial Aid Application,” and anyone applying for federal aid (federal unsubsidized loans or federal work-study funding) must also provide the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Please see the STH Financial Aid page for an overview of the financial aid process.
Submit Official, Final Transcripts to Admissions Office
You were admitted to the School of Theology on the basis of the academic work you completed at previous schools and colleges. You uploaded unofficial electronic copies of these transcripts to your online application. Now that you are an entering student we need final, official copies of each transcript in your academic past. These become part of your permanent file here at the School of Theology. If you have received any academic credit from an institution, including study abroad or transfer credits, we need to have an official transcript on file for that work.
We consider a transcript “official” if it is sent directly from your previous institution’s Registrar’s Office to the School of Theology’s Admissions Office. “Final” transcripts are ones that show a final GPA and graduation date. If the School of Theology does not receive all of your official, final transcripts, you will be unable to register for classes in future semesters.
Secure Housing in Boston
Finding housing in Boston can be daunting to those coming from outside the city. However, the Admissions Office can help resource you with names of realtors, descriptions of properties where STH students have lived successfully in the past, and information about STH’s own community housing options. See the Housing section of this website for more information. Please be diligent in your search, but rest assured that each year the entire entering class finds housing in which to live, and you will, too.
Make Plans to Attend Orientation
Orientation Day is mandatory for all entering students, and you should adjust your travel plans to make sure that you can attend. Orientation typically falls the Friday before Labor Day weekend each Fall semester, and the day before classes begin each Spring semester. More information, including the day’s agenda, is sent to entering students nearer to the start of classes. Entering students are not encouraged to bring family members to Orientation Day.
The first week of classes each fall is considered “Welcome Week” and includes a wide variety of social, spiritual, and academic offerings. These help acclimate new students to the community and returning students can take part as well. Please make plans to attend some Welcome Week events. Though optional, these gatherings will help connect you with this community. You will receive a listing of all Welcome Week events on Orientation Day.
Choose Your Health Insurance Option
Every student enrolled in a degree program at BU must have health insurance. This is Massachusetts state law and a University policy. The University assumes that all students plan to opt into the University’s Student Health Insurance Program, and will charge your student account during the fall semester for a year’s worth of health insurance coverage unless you tell them not to do so. If you would prefer not to use the University’s health insurance plan, you may complete the Medical Insurance Waiver Form (available at the Student Accounting website), stating that you have alternative medical insurance.
Complete Your Medical History and Physical Report
BU requires that all incoming students complete the University’s “Immunization and Physical Form” before starting classes. Please see the BU Health Services Website to find and complete this form, and to learn more about the resources available for your health and wellness through the University’s Student Health Services Office.
Begin Working with BU's Office of Disability Services
The purpose of BU’s Office of Disability Services is to provide services and support to ensure that students of all abilities are able to access and participate in the opportunities available at Boston University. If you have a learning difference, or are differently-abled in any way that requires assistance, you should begin securing that help several weeks before Orientation so it will be available to you when classes begin. Review the Office of Disability Services (ODS) website and note which services could be of help to you. When you are ready, complete the ODS “Request for Accommodation Form” and make an intake appointment with the staff of that office by calling 617-353-3658 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Petition for Academic Advanced Standing
(Only optional for MDiv or MTS students with previous religious studies coursework)
If you are an incoming MDiv or MTS student and if you have completed significant coursework in Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), New Testament, Church History, or Theology, you may apply for Advanced Standing in those disciplines. Advanced Standing means that, instead of taking an introductory-level class in that discipline, you could take an advanced course instead. For example, instead of “Intro to New Testament” you could choose to take “Jesus in the Gospels.” Please note: this does not reduce the number of credit hours you must take in your program, but rather allows you to customize your curriculum toward more advanced coursework.
To petition for Advanced Standing you must send to the School of Theology’s Registrar syllabi of all the coursework you have completed in a discipline along with a note stating that you are requesting Advanced Standing. Your syllabi will be reviewed by the Registrar and Academic Dean and a decision communicated prior to the start of classes. Any questions about Advanced Standing should be addressed to the School of Theology’s Registrar’s Office.
Register for Classes
The Registrar’s Office allows incoming students to register for next semester’s classes. In order to be eligible to register you must have confirmed your admission in the online application system (step one of this checklist) so you are listed as an official entering student. You will receive an email from the School of Theology guiding you through the steps of registration. This email is sent approximately mid-July for those matriculating in the fall. Spring matriculating students register at Orientation, and so will not receive a separate registration email.
Consider What Transportation Options You Will Utilize in Boston
If not bringing a car:
Most students moving to Boston do not need a car, especially those living on- or near-campus. Public transportation is ample throughout the city and surrounding towns, and most students purchase a monthly T-pass for their commutes. Options like ZipCar rentals and Lyft or Uber ride-sharing apps are also popular ways to have access to a car when needed without paying for insurance, gas, and parking in the city. Check out the MBTA website “Trip Planner” to learn which T stop is closet to your housing, and determine whether you will need to have a bus pass, subway pass, or “combo” pass that includes both subway and bus. Another option is biking around town, as Boston has many dedicated bike lanes and a robust biking culture.
If bringing a car:
If your residence is far from campus and difficult to navigate by public transportation, driving in to campus is always an option. However, parking on and around campus is limited, and so it is very wise to purchase an on-campus parking sticker if you come to campus most days. If you come to campus only a couple times each week, you may prefer to utilize the University’s pay lots, instead, and pay each individual time you park. We highly recommend that students living on- or near-campus do not bring a car.
Prepare to Make Your First Student Accounting Payment
Please familiarize yourself with the payment deadlines for the University’s Student Accounting Services, as these are the times by which you must pay your student bill. These deadlines can be found on the Student Accounting Services website. Deadline for incoming student payment is typically within the first two weeks of the semester, and includes all tuition, fees, housing, and student health charges. Students can work with Student Accounting Services directly to create a payment plan if the total cost is too much to pay at once.
Complete the Entering Student Questionnaire
(Fall incoming students only)
Every fall the Association of Theological Schools (the accrediting agency of seminaries in the US and Canada) surveys entering theological school students around the country. They collect demographic and financial information about students and inquire about motivations for entering seminary and professional aspirations. Data generated from these responses are helpful to academic deans, student services and admissions offices, and faculty. We would greatly appreciate it if you would fill out this survey. You will receive an email before Orientation with a link to the survey. If you have not received this link, please contact the Registrar’s Office and we will resend it. Students matriculating in the spring do not need to complete the Entering Student Questionnaire.
Once Classes Begin
Meet with Your Faculty Advisor
At Orientation you will be assigned a faculty member as your Faculty Advisor, and this person is a resource to you as you build your curriculum in the program. The Academic Dean assigns faculty as students’ Faculty Advisors on the basis of shared interests and fit, availability, and familiarity with a student’s program. In the first few weeks of classes you should make an appointment with your Advisor during their office hours to greet them and to begin conversing with them about your interests and vocational discernment. When it comes time to register for classes each semester you can meet with your Advisor to discern which courses are right for you.
Subscribe to BU Today
BU Today is the campus digital newspaper, which contains helpful, informative, and fun stories about the BU community on a daily basis. This is also where campus closings, such as snow days, are officially communicated. Subscription is free. Students can read more and sign up to receive email or text alerts via the BU Today website. The BU Today archives include many articles about campus life and history, student and alumni initiatives, and videos about BU and its surrounding neighborhoods. It is an excellent resource for incoming School of Theology students to learn about the wider University.
Join an STH Student Group
- There are many student groups within the School of Theology’s Student Association (STHSA), which range in purpose. Some are based on identity markers, others come together for shared service, and some are just for fun. A sample list of student groups includes:
- Association of Black Seminarians
- Korean Students Association
- Association of PhD Students
- Raíces Latinx Student Association
- Sacred Worth, the LGBTQIA+ and Allies Student Group
- Wesleyan Students Association
- Comma, the United Church of Christ Student Group
- BeUU, the Unitarian Universalist Student Group
- ThECOlogy, the group for seminarians seeking ecological justice
Each student group welcomes new student participation each semester. Orientation will introduce you to the leaders of the STHSA, and through them you can get involved where you would like. And if you do not see a group that interests you, consider starting one of your own. All student groups are student organized and led.
Participate in Spiritual Life Offerings
The School of Theology offers robust resources for spiritual formation and worship. From weekly Chapel worship and participation in the Seminary Singers choir, to special retreats and weekly religious programming, the hope is that each member of the community will be able to find something that they enjoy.