Application Process

 

Making an Application to the School of Theology

Once you have determined which degree program is right for your academic interests and vocational goals, you are encouraged to apply online.  Applying online speeds the process considerably for you, your references, and for the Admissions Office staff.  You may start your application at any time, so long as the semester to which you are applying is available on the online application site.  The online system allows you to begin an application and save, review, and change it at your leisure until you are ready to submit it.

Access the online application system here.

Application Instructions

Each applicant is responsible for submitting all the necessary credentials, documents, and data via the online application system. Decisions on admission cannot be made until all materials have been received from an applicant.  An application will not be considered “complete” for the sake of deadlines until all materials (including all references) have been received by the School of Theology Admissions Office via the online application.

Applications for admission should be completed by the appropriate deadlines to be considered for financial aid and scholarships.

McNair Scholars (http://mcnairscholars.com/) should be in contact with the Office of Admissions directly at sthadmis@bu.edu for waiver of application fee.

Master's-level Applications Checklist

  • Online application form

 

  • $80 non-refundable application fee, submitted online

 

  • Copies of transcripts from all academic institutions where the applicant received previous academic credit
    • Applicants will be asked to upload to the online application copies of their transcripts from all previous institutions where they have earned academic credit.  Applicants should make sure that the uploaded transcripts are oriented vertically wherever possible. The file size of any scanned transcripts must be shrunk to 500KB or less to be able to be uploaded to the online  application (instructions for shrinking a file’s size are readily available online). Students who are provisionally-admitted to the School of Theology are required to submit official copies of their transcripts to the STH Admissions Office by postal mail before they begin classes.

     

    • 3 Letters of reference
      • 1 Pastoral Reference – Reference may be from a pastor, ecclesiastical superior, or denominational administrator.  In the case of an applicant who is not seeking ordination and is not connected with a church, a general character reference from a colleague, mentor, church member, or professor may be substituted for the pastoral reference.
      • 2 Academic References – Reference may be from a previous college professor, academic advisor, or Dean/President.  A reference letter from a work supervisor may be submitted for one academic reference letter.  If you have been out of college for a number of years, you may substitute work supervisors, colleagues, or other appropriate persons for academic references.
    • Personal statement
      • In a statement of 500 words or less, describe and reflect on your life journey and the vocational directions toward which you are pointed.

     

    • Application essay
      • In a 500-word essay, describe and interpret a favorite book or movie with commentary on why it is meaningful to you.

     

    • Standardized test results
      • For domestic applicantsNo standardized test results are required of domestic applicants who are applying for admission.  (For example, the GRE is not required.)
      • For international applicants – official results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), taken during the past two years (A TOEFL score of 570 paper-based, 230 computer-based, or internet-based 89 with at least 22 in each of the four areas are the minimums required for admission.)  Though the Admissions Committee prefers the TOEFL, applicants who cannot take the TOEFL may take the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test instead.  A score of 6.5 on the IELTS is required for admission.  If an applicant successfully graduated from an accredited college or university where instruction was primarily in English, the TOEFL requirement is waived.  All standardized testing scores need to be received directly from the testing organization (ex. Educational Testing Service).  Standardized tests submitted by applicants are not considered official until we receive the official scores from the testing organization.  The student may request that ETS forward a copy of their TOEFL scores to the School of Theology’s code:  3233, Department 99.
    • MSM Applicants only:  In addition to the above requirements, MSM applicants must submit a pre-screening video by the December 1st prior to their hoped date of matriculation.  Recordings should be made no earlier than six months prior to the final MSM application completion deadline of January 1st.  Recordings should be uploaded via the School of Music’s “DecisionDesk” online portal.  Information about the DecisionDesk portal and requirements can be found on the School of Music’s audition information site:  http://www.bu.edu/cfa/music/prospective/auditions/
    • International Applicants only: International applicants to all School of Theology degree programs must include additional items as part of their visa application with the United States government.  Please see the “Additional Information for International Students” section below for a description of these items and the process by which admission occurs for international students.

    Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Applications Checklist

    • Online application form

     

    • $80 non-refundable application fee, submitted online

     

    • Copies of transcripts from all academic institutions where the applicant received previous academic credit
      • Applicants will be asked to upload to the online application copies of their transcripts from all previous institutions where they have earned academic credit.  Applicants should make sure that the uploaded transcripts are oriented vertically wherever possible. The file size of any scanned transcripts must be shrunk to 500KB or less to be able to be uploaded to the online  application (instructions for shrinking a file’s size are readily available online). Students who are provisionally-admitted to the School of Theology are required to submit official copies of their transcripts to the STH Admissions Office by postal mail before they begin classes.

     

    • Resume/CV

     

    • 3 Letters of reference
      • 1 Pastoral Reference – Reference may be from a pastor, ecclesiastical superior, or denominational administrator (In the case of an applicant who is not connected with a church, a general character reference from a colleague, mentor, professor, or church member may be substituted for the pastoral reference.)
      • 2 Academic References – Reference may be from a previous college professor, academic advisor, or Dean/President.  A reference letter from a work supervisor may be submitted for one academic reference letter.  If you have been out of college for a number of years, you may substitute work supervisors, colleagues, or other appropriate persons for academic references.
    • Personal statement
      • In a statement of 2000 words or less, please describe your goals in undertaking doctoral study in your given field, including an indication, even if only general at this point, of your proposed focus and research.  Also, how have your experience and study to this point helped prepare you for this doctoral program and your proposed research focus?

     

    • Standardized test results
      • For domestic applicants – official results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test, taken during the past five years; the Millers Analogy Test may not be submitted as part of the PhD application.  All standardized testing scores need to be received directly from the testing organization (ex. Educational Testing Service).  Standardized tests submitted by applicants are not considered official until we receive the official scores from the testing organization.  The student may request that ETS forward a copy of their GRE scores to the School of Theology’s code:  GRE – R3070.
      • For international applicants – two standardized tests are required:
        • official results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test, taken during the past five years; the Millers Analogy Test may not be submitted as part of the PhD application
        • official results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), taken during the past two years (A TOEFL score of 570 paper-based, 230 computer-based, or internet-based 89 with at least 22 in each of the four areas are the minimums required for admission.)  Please note:  the IELTS may not be substituted for the TOEFL of doctoral applicants.  If an applicant successfully graduated from an accredited college or university where instruction was primarily in English, the TOEFL requirement is waived.  All standardized testing scores need to be received directly from the testing organization (ex. Educational Testing Service).  Standardized tests submitted by applicants are not considered official until we receive the official scores from the testing organization.  The student may request that ETS forward a copy of their TOEFL scores to the School of Theology’s code:  3233, Department 99.
    • Sample of scholarly writing
      • Not to exceed 30 pages
      • Feel free to excerpt from a larger work or thesis, including an abstract of the entire piece and an indication that the sample is an excerpt from the whole.
    • International Applicants only: International applicants to all School of Theology degree programs must include additional items as part of their visa application with the United States government.  Please see the “Additional Information for International Students” section below for a description of these items and the process by which admission occurs for international students.

    Doctor of Ministry (DMin) Applications Checklist

    • Online application form

     

    • $80 non-refundable application fee, submitted online

     

    • Copies of transcripts from all academic institutions where the applicant received previous academic credit 
      • Applicants will be asked to upload to the online application copies of their transcripts from all previous institutions where they have earned academic credit.  Applicants should make sure that the uploaded transcripts are oriented vertically wherever possible. The file size of any scanned transcripts must be shrunk to 500KB or less to be able to be uploaded to the online  application (instructions for shrinking a file’s size are readily available online). Students who are provisionally-admitted to the School of Theology are required to submit official copies of their transcripts to the STH Admissions Office by postal mail before they begin classes.

     

    • Resume/CV

     

    • 3 Letters of reference
      • 1 Pastoral Reference – Reference may be from a pastoral colleague, ecclesiastical superior, or denominational administrator (In the case of an applicant who is not connected with a church, a general character reference from a colleague, mentor, professor, or church member may be substituted for the pastoral reference.)
      • 1 Reference from a parishioner or someone who has experienced your ministry – The goal of this reference is to have a sense of your ministerial work from someone you have cared for, worked alongside, and/or served in some way.
      • 1 Academic Reference – Reference may be from a previous college or seminary professor, academic advisor, or Dean/President.  If you have been out of school for a number of years you may substitute work supervisors, colleagues, or other appropriate persons for this academic reference.
    • Personal statement
      • In a statement of 2000 words or less, please describe your goals in undertaking the Doctor of Ministry degree program, including an indication, even if only general at this point, of your proposed focus and research.  Also, how have your experience and study to this point helped prepare you for this DMin program and your proposed research focus?

     

    • Standardized test results
      • For domestic applicants – No standardized test results are required of domestic applicants who are applying for admission to the Doctor of Ministry program.  (For example, the GRE is not required.)
      • For international applicants – one standardized test is required:
        • official results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), taken during the past two years (A TOEFL score of 570 paper-based, 230 computer-based, or internet-based 89 with at least 22 in each of the four areas are the minimums required for admission.)  Please note:  the IELTS may not be substituted for the TOEFL of doctoral applicants.
        • If an applicant successfully graduated from an accredited college or university where instruction was primarily in English, the TOEFL requirement is waived.  All standardized testing scores need to be received directly from the testing organization (ex. Educational Testing Service).  Standardized tests submitted by applicants are not considered official until we receive the official scores from the testing organization.  The student may request that ETS forward a copy of their TOEFL scores to the School of Theology’s code:  3233, Department 99.
    • Sample of scholarly writing
      • Not to exceed 10 pages
      • This paper should be an example of scholarly writing rather than a sermon-style piece.  It should include a bibliography and reflect your ability to do solid independent research in your field of interest.
      • Feel free to excerpt from a larger work or thesis, including an abstract of the entire piece and an indication that the sample is an excerpt from the whole.
    • International Applicants only: International applicants to all School of Theology degree programs must include additional items as part of their visa application with the United States government.  Please see the “Additional Information for International Students” section below for a description of these items and the process by which admission occurs for international students.

     

    Special Non-Degree Student Applications

    Those who wish to take foundational courses in preparation for Deacon’s Orders or a Certificate Program, or who want to take courses without applying for candidacy in a degree program may apply as a “Special Student” of the School.  Special Student applicants must submit the following application materials:

    • Online application form

     

    • $80 non-refundable application fee, submitted online

     

    • Copies of transcripts from all academic institutions where the applicant received previous academic credit
      • Applicants will be asked to upload to the online application copies of their transcripts from all previous institutions where they have earned academic credit.  Applicants should make sure that the uploaded transcripts are oriented vertically wherever possible. The file size of any scanned transcripts must be shrunk to 500KB or less to be able to be uploaded to the online  application (instructions for shrinking a file’s size are readily available online). Students who are provisionally-admitted to the School of Theology are required to submit official copies of their transcripts to the STH Admissions Office by postal mail before they begin classes.
    • A brief explanation of the proposed study plan indicating courses desired (“What classes do you want to take, and why?”)

    Please note that the four above items are all that is needed to apply for Special Student status.  There is no need to submit letters of reference, the personal statement, or essay.

     

       

      Additional Information for International Students

      English Language Requirements:

       

      A TOEFL score of 570 (paper-based), 230 (computer-based), or 89 with at least 22 in each of the four areas (internet-based) is the minimum score required for admission to the Boston University School of Theology.  Though the Admissions Committee prefers the TOEFL, master’s-level applicants who cannot take the TOEFL may take the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test instead.  A score of 6.5 on the IELTS is required for admission.  Doctoral applicants must submit TOEFL scores – the IELTS cannot be a substitution on doctoral applications.  All standardized testing scores need to be received directly from the testing organization (ex. Educational Testing Service).  Standardized tests submitted by applicants are not considered official until we receive the official scores from the testing organization.  The student may request that ETS forward a copy of their TOEFL scores to the School of Theology’s code:  3233, Department 99.

      Applicants who do not meet the TOEFL requirement but are otherwise eligible for admission to the Boston University School of Theology may be considered for the “Bridge Program” between the School of Theology and the University’s Center for English Language and Orientation Programs (CELOP).  Applicants who are chosen for the Bridge Program will have TOEFL scores very near the School of Theology’s required minimum scores, and will be required to attend and successfully complete a CELOP English program as evidence of their readiness for graduate theological study in English.  If the student does not receive a positive evaluation from the CELOP instructor that taught her or his English program, that student will be asked to continue studying in the CELOP program until they do, which will indicate that they are prepared for full-time study at the School of Theology.  An applicant can always bypass the need to attend CELOP by achieving the required minimum TOEFL score prior to making an application to the School of Theology.

      Admission to Degree Programs:

      All degree programs at Boston University School of Theology are open to international students.  Students must provide the application credentials required for a degree program as described in the “application checklist.”  Admission to the School of Theology for international students is completed in two parts.  First, the student will be notified that he or she is “academically” admitted to the degree program, if the credentials presented merit such admission.  Second, after documentation of significant financial support from personal resources, churches, or other agencies is provided by the applicant, the University’s International Student and Scholars Office will work with the United States government to secure the necessary Student Visa.  Once a student has received notification that their Student Visa has been issued by the U.S. government they will receive a letter of full admission into the School of Theology and will be prepared for matriculation.

       

      Financial Considerations:

      All international applicants to the Boston University School of Theology are required to show original documentation of financial resources and/or sponsorship in order to be considered by the United States government for a Student Visa.  The amount of sponsorship varies from year to year depending on the cost of living in Boston, and was more than $40,000 for the recent school year for a single student.  Students who plan to bring family members with them during their study will have to show additional sponsorship for the support of these family members.  Please consult the School of Theology Admissions Office (sthadmis@bu.edu) for current sponsorship requirements or refer to the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) website (www.bu.edu/isso) for an estimate of expenses.

      Though the School of Theology provides significant tuition scholarships to all of its students, the School is unable to provide complete financial sponsorship for international students to support their living expenses during their studies.  Therefore, without personal financial support from oneself or an outside source a student will not be able to secure a student visa from the U.S. government for study at the Boston University School of Theology.  For this reason, the Admissions Office urges all international applicants to seek financial sponsorship prior to making an application to the School of Theology.

       

      In all cases, it is the responsibility of the applicant to develop these resources and maintain them throughout study at Boston University.  The University requires payment of the semester’s tuition, fees, housing, etc., prior to the beginning of each semester.  International students are advised to collect all financial resources prior to enrolling if possible.  Students who lose their sponsorship during their degree program will not be able to be supported financially by the School, and will likely have to return home until they secure a new sponsor.

      To be considered for a student visa your application must include:

       

      • Completed International Student data section of the online application (“International Student” tab)
      • Completed “International Student Data Form” (part of the online application, or available from the ISSO website, www.bu.edu/isso ) – You may have more than one way of spelling your name, especially in English, so make sure that the name you enter on the ISDF exactly matches the name in your passport.  The same is true for your spouse’s or children’s names.  Also, please be sure to answer every question. Unanswered questions delay the processing of documents.
      • Photocopies of your passport and any previous immigration documentation for you and anyone else who will be accompanying you to the United States on your student visa.
      • Proof of sponsorship:
        • If you are sponsoring yourself, you must provide an original bank statement showing the required amount available in U.S. dollars in a bank account.  You may not send proof of real estate ownership, stocks, or any other financial asset in order to satisfy this proof of sponsorship.  The U.S. government requires that sponsorship funds be available for your study in a bank account so they can be readily used for your support.
        • If sponsored by an individual other than yourself, you must provide the following documentation:
          • An original bank statement showing the required amount available in U.S. dollars
          • A completed “Sponsorship Certification Form,” which is available through the online application or on the ISSO website (www.bu.edu/isso).  This form requires an original signature from your sponsor as well as a statement that the funds shown in the provided bank statement are reserved for your support as you study at the Boston University School of Theology
          • If sponsored by an institution, such as a church, denomination, or grant agency, you must provide the following documentation:
            • A completed “Sponsorship Certification Form,” which is available through the online application or on the ISSO website (www.bu.edu/isso).  This form requires an original signature from a representative of your sponsoring agency as well as a statement confirming that the required amount of funds are reserved for your support as you study at Boston University School of Theology.

      Once the above visa paperwork has been completed and is ready for submission:

       

      • Print the International Student Data Form
      • Print the International Applicant Coversheet
      • Staple all required financial documents, photocopies of passports, and other immigration documents behind the International Applicant Coversheet
      • Forward the International Applicant Coversheet and all attached documents to the School of Theology Admissions Office (745 Commonwealth Avenue, Suite 108; Boston, MA 02215)

      Transfer Students

      The Boston University School of Theology welcomes transfer students from other institutions.  Applicants for transfer into a degree program are evaluated on the same basis as other applicants. Applicants may also be eligible for consideration for merit awards based on the same criteria as other applicants for admission.  Please read the BUSTH Transfer Credit Policy, listed below:

      Students may transfer credits from any graduate theological school accredited by the ATS or other comparable accrediting agency if transferring from outside of North America. In every instance, course equivalents are determined on an individual basis, by petition, and only when that coursework is demonstrated to be relevant to the course of study being pursued in the School of Theology, as determined by the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, operating on behalf of the faculty. Applicants for transfer must include in their personal statement the reasons they are seeking a transfer, and must provide a recently-issued letter of good standing from their previous institution. The following guidelines apply to all requests for transfer of credit to the School of Theology:

      • Undergraduate credits may not apply toward the fulfillment of any degree program requirement at the School of Theology. However, undergraduate credits can be used to petition for advanced standing in masters-level introductory courses.
      • Courses, when accepted, will carry the credit value equivalent to the number of contact hours the course carried (for example, 40 contact hours = 4 credits). , No courses for which less than a B- was received are acceptable.
      • Courses taken wholly online or mostly online will not be accepted.
      • Courses completed more than seven years prior to the intended date of enrollment will not be considered for transfer of credit.
      • Transfer credits may not normally fulfill core requirements for the M.Div. or M.T.S. degree programs, but they may fulfill distributional electives and free electives:
        • Up to 32 credits for the M.Div. degree
        • Up to 24 credits for the M.T.S. degree
        • Up to 16 credits for the M.S.M. degree
        • Up to 8 credits for the S.T.M. degree
        • Up to 12 credits for the D. Min. degree
      • For PhD and ThD candidates, no more than one course may normally be transferred from previous work, and then only when the work done in that course is of equivalent academic standing to the degree for which the student is currently a candidate.  All requests for transfer must go through the Advanced Studies Committee of the School of Theology.
      • Field/contextual education credits earned previously will be considered for transfer by petition to the academic dean in consultation with the co-directors of contextual education. Some additional contextual education may be required to fulfill the requirements of the MDiv degree.
      • CPE credits may transfer as free electives if they are from an ACPE accredited institution. They may not fulfill field/contextual education requirements except in particular circumstances by petition to the Associate Dean and a Co-Director of Contextual Education. One unit of CPE transfers in as 8 credits of free elective credits.
      • Applicants for transfer into a degree program are evaluated on the same basis as other applicants. Applicants may also be eligible for consideration for merit awards based on the same criteria as other applicants for admission.

      If you have any questions about the application process or how to complete your application, please do not hesitate to contact the School of Theology Admissions Office by phone (617-353-3036), email (sthadmis@bu.edu) or Skype (sthadmis).