How to Apply

Once you have determined which degree program is right for your academic interests and vocational goals you may begin the online application through the Liaison application portal. The Liaison system allows you to begin an application and save, review, and change it at your leisure until you are ready to submit it. Any questions about the application process can be directed toward our Admissions Office (sthadmis@bu.edu or 617-353-3036 Monday through Friday, 9am – 5pm Eastern Standard Time).

Access the online application portal here:

Online Portal

Application Deadlines

The School of Theology matriculates students into its programs twice a year, in the fall and spring semesters. Applicants should have all materials (online application, transcripts, references, test scores, etc.) submitted by the deadlines below to be considered for admission. The School of Theology utilizes three types of application deadlines:

  • Early Decision Deadlines – Applications by this date are decided before the new year, and eligible applicants are considered for tuition and merit scholarships.
  • Priority Admissions Deadlines – Eligible applicants are considered for tuition and merit scholarships.
  • Final Deadlines – This is the final date one can complete an application and be considered for matriculation in the following semester. While tuition scholarships are still likely for those who apply by the final deadline, merit awards are typically no longer available.
For Fall Matriculation For Spring Matriculation
Master of Divinity (MDiv) November 1 – Early Decision Deadline

January 15 -Priority Admissions Deadline

May 15 – Final Deadline for international applicants

July 15 – Final Deadline for domestic applicants

October 15 – Final Deadline for both domestic and international applicants
Master of Theological Studies (MTS) November 1 – Early Decision Deadline

January 15 – Priority Admissions Deadline

May 15 – Final Deadline for international applicants

July 15 – Final Deadline for domestic applicants

October 15 – Final Deadline for both domestic and international applicants
Master of Sacred Music (MSM) December 1 – Pre-audition materials upload deadline

January 1 – Final Deadline for all other application materials to be received, same deadline for both domestic and international applicants

The MSM program does not admit for spring matriculation.
Master of Sacred Theology (STM) May 15 – Final Deadline for international applicants

July 15 – Final Deadline for domestic applicants

October 15 – Final Deadline for both domestic and international applicants
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) December 15 – Final Deadline for both domestic and international applicants The PhD program does not admit for spring matriculation.
Doctor of Ministry (DMin) July 1 – Final Deadline for both domestic and international applicants December 1 – Final Deadline for both domestic and international applicants

Application Checklist

Item: Please note:
Completed Online Application There is a $95 non-refundable application fee for all programs, which is paid by credit card within the online application system.
Digital copies (PDF preferred) of unofficial transcripts from all academic institutions where applicant has received previous academic credit
  • In the online application, under the “Supporting Information” square, you will click on the “documents” section. Here you will be able to upload a digital copy of all of your transcripts using the “Any Additional Supporting Document” link.
  • The online application system limits the size of your uploaded document. For this reason we recommend uploading each institution’s transcript separately as a PDF, if you attended more than one institution.
  • Please see below this chart for Frequently Asked Questions about transcripts.
3 Letters of Reference
MDiv and MSM Applicants:

  • One 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 faith community, a general character reference from a colleague, mentor, or professor may be substituted for the pastoral reference.
  • Two Academic References: Two of your references should be from a previous college professor, academic advisor, or Dean/President. 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.

MTS, STM, and PhD Applicants:

Your three academic references may be from a previous college or seminary professor, academic advisor, or Dean/President. You may choose to have one professional reference in exchange for an academic reference if that person can speak to your abilities as a scholar, researcher, or teacher.

DMin Applicants:

  • One 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.)
  • One 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.
  • One 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 All master’s program applicants answer the following question:

In a statement of 500 words or fewer, describe and reflect on your life journey and the vocational directions toward which you are pointed.

All doctoral program applicants answer the following question:

In a statement of 2000 words or fewer, 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?

Applicants seeking to transfer from another institution must include in their personal statement the reasons they are seeking a transfer, and must upload a recently-issued letter of good standing from their previous institution to the online application. Please see the “Transfer Students” section below.

Application Essay (master’s applicants only) All master’s program applicants answer the following question:

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 (international applicants and PhD applicants only)
  • All standardized tests must be received directly from the testing organization (ex. Educational Testing Service)
  • Applicants should request that the testing organization forward a copy of their scores to Boston University’s code: 3087.
  • International Applicants for whom English is not a native language must submit a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score taken within the past two years. The required minimum scores are:
  • IBT (internet-based test): 89, with at least 22 in each of the four areas
  • CBT (computer-based test): 230
  • PBT (paper-based test): 570
  • The IELTS can be substituted for the TOEFL. The minimum necessary score is a 6.0.

PhD applicants must submit a GRE score taken within the past five years. While there is not a minimum GRE required, students are advised to have a combined verbal/quantitative score of at least 1300 (old system) or 315 (new system) and a writing score of at least 5.0 in order to have a competitive application.

Resume/CV Your current resume or curriculum vitae should include your previous education, relevant work history, volunteer or service work, and any additional information you would like the Admissions Committee to know about your background
Sample of Scholarly Writing (doctoral applicants only) PhD applicants’ writing samples should not exceed 30 pages in length. 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.

DMin applicants’ writing samples should not exceed 10 pages in length, and should be scholarly in nature, rather than a sermon-style piece. It should include a bibliography and reflect the applicant’s ability to do solid independent research in their 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 Student Documentation
(international applicants only)
In addition to completing the online application and credentials listed above, all international applicants must provide documentation to be considered by the United States government for a Student Visa. Those items include:

  • International Student Data Form – This form includes basic information about you and your family, your country of origin and visa history, your previous academic institutions, and your financial declaration.
  • Copies of Previous Visa Documents – You will need to provide scanned copies of your passport and previous immigration documents for you and any family members accompanying you to the U.S. on your student visa.
  • Financial Sponsorship Documents – As an international student you must show the U.S. government that you have adequate funding for your tuition, fees, and living expenses to attend Boston University. Boston University’s International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) has a helpful Estimate of Expenses for BU’s Charles River Campus, showing the total amount one must have in sponsorship to obtain a US visa for study. Financial sponsorship can come from one’s own personal funds or from an external sponsor. Again, please see ISSO’s website to complete the required financial documentation.

Transcripts – Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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. Please see the School of Theology’s Academic Bulletin for the latest Admissions Transfer Policy.

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, where it will then be forwarded to the Academic Dean for review. 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 applicable to required, 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 Introduction to Christian Traditions and TF702 Christianity Engaging Modernity 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.

To be considered for Advanced Standing an entering student should send a written request to the School of Theology Registrar’s Office. The request should take the form of a letter to the School’s Registrar and Academic Dean. It should include any relevant syllabi. 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:

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. I have attached the syllabi for the courses above. 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 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 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.

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-

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