transfer credits and advanced standing

Boston University School of Theology welcomes applicants 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.  As you consider transferring to the School of Theology, please review the Transfer Credit Policy below.  Should you have any questions, please be in touch with the Admissions Office directly (617-353-3036 or sthadmis@bu.edu).

STH Transfer Credit Policy

Students may transfer credits from any graduate theological school accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (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 statements the reasons they are seeking a transfer, and they 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 MDiv or MTS degree programs, but they may fulfill track 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.
  • Field/contextual education credits earned previously will be considered for transfer by petition to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs 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 in as free electives if they are from an institution accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE). They may not fulfill field/contextual education requirements except in particular circumstances and by petition to the associate dean of academic affairs 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.

Advanced Standing

Incoming first-level master’s students who have taken previous courses in religious studies may be able to earn advanced standing in certain academic disciplines by sending a petition to the Office of the Registrar. Advanced Standing is different from transfer credit in that it does not reduce the number of credit hours one must earn toward a master’s degree program. However, if an incoming student is granted advanced standing in an academic discipline, that person is able to take an advanced course in the discipline rather than the introductory course. Advanced Standing in New Testament, for example, allows an incoming student to take an upper-level New Testament course such as “Letter to the Romans” or “Gospel of John” rather than the “Introduction to the New Testament” class.

Advanced Standing permission is only necessary for academic disciplines that offer introductory-level core courses. Those disciplines are:

Core course for which advanced standing may be sought Background needed to be considered for advanced standing
TO704-Hebrew Bible I Graduate level coursework in the study of the Hebrew Bible, including the use of historical-critical methods in their interpretation.
TN721-Introduction to the New Testament Graduate level coursework in the study of the New Testament, including the use of historical-critical methods in their interpretation.
TF701/702 Reading the World: History, Theology, and Context I and II This year-long sequence is unique to the School of Theology and is not normally eligible for advanced standing because it does not compare to coursework in other graduate programs, neither is it merely a combination of such other classes. In rare situations, students with extensive coursework in theology, history, and sociology of religion might be considered for advanced standing.
TF703/704 Practices of Faith I and II This unique, year-long sequence is a signature course for the School of Theology’s MDiv program and is not eligible for advanced standing.

To be considered for Advanced Standing an entering student should send a written request to the School of Theology Registrar’s Office (sthregfa@bu.edu). The request should take the form of a letter to the School’s Registrar and Academic Dean. An example is below:

Dear School of Theology Registrar and Academic Dean,

I am writing to request Advanced Standing for the following core courses: Hebrew Bible I and Intro to the New Testament. As you will see from the enclosed materials, I have previously taken 2 courses in Hebrew Bible and 1 course in New Testament:

Discipline for Advanced Standing Name of Previous Course Taken When & Where Taken, Grade Received
Hebrew Bible Introduction to Hebrew Bible Fall 2010, Belmont University, A
Hebrew Bible Understanding the Psalms Spring 2011, Belmont University, B+
New Testament Introduction to the New Testament Fall 2009, Iliff School of Theology, A-

I believe these previous courses gave me enough background in these disciplines to move beyond introductory courses directly to advanced-level courses in the field.  Please review my materials and let me know if they warrant Advanced Standing for these two courses.

Sincerely,
J. Q. Entering Student

Copies of your transcripts clearly showing the listed courses and your grades in them should accompany this letter of request. Using these materials the Registrar and Academic Dean will assess whether you have enough background in a discipline to advance beyond the introductory level course. In some cases further materials may be requested to determine whether Advanced Standing status is appropriate. These materials might include syllabi from each course and/or written assignments or final papers. In the case that additional materials are necessary, the Registrar’s Office will be in contact with you by email to request them. Any questions about the advanced standing process should be sent to the Registrar’s Office (sthregfa@bu.edu).