Western Seminary How to Apply Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I begin applying to Western?

We would encourage you to start the application process 3-6 months before you hope to begin your studies and complete the process by our Early Application Deadline. Our Final Application Deadline should be considered as the last time you are able to apply, not as the preferred time by which you should apply.

Completing the application process by our Early Application Deadline will give you plenty of time to hear back about your admission, ensure that your finances are in order, and plan out your first semester of studies.

Should you wait to complete the process until our Final Application Deadline, you will likely hear back about your admission about 2 to 3 weeks before the start of classes.

My undergraduate cumulative grade point average (GPA) is below the requirement. Can I still be admitted?

If the Seminary Admission Committee finds the all other aspects of your application to be strong, you may be admitted provisionally under another program status that would allow you to earn that required GPA over a certain number of graded credits. This opportunity would allow you to demonstrate your readiness to begin graduate studies. Assuming you are able to do so, you will be able to fully enter your program of choice.

I earned my bachelor's degree at an unaccredited school. Can I still be admitted?

Yes, however exceptions to this requirement are limited. If your degree is unaccredited, in addition to the normative admission process, you will need to complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and complete a portfolio of your past educational work. For more
information, please contact an Enrollment Counselor.

I earned my undergaduate degree in another country. Can I still be admitted?

Yes, it is possible to be admitted to Western Seminary if you have completed an international degree. Your degree will be evaluated both on breadth and depth. We will need to determine that it is equivalent to a 4 year, accredited baccalaureate degree. In order to evaluate your degree, our International Student Coordinator we will need to review official transcripts from the degree granting school.

Can I apply to Western before my undergraduate degree has been completed?

If you are a college senior, in good standing, and you intend to complete your degree before you begin your studies at Western, then you can apply to Western before your undergraduate bachelor's degree has been completed.

As part of the application process, you must submit official transcripts from all schools where you have completed 7 or more semester credits (including the school from which you intend to graduate). Then, provided you are admissible, you would be responsible to submit an official, degree-posted transcript from your undergraduate institution prior to enrollment.

Should you be unable to provide an official, degree-posted transcript prior to the first day of the semester you wish to enroll in at Western, then you may either request to postpone your admission to a later semester or you may request to be considered for non-degree admission.

Non-degree admission allows you to enroll in graduate courses for credit, on a semester by semester basis. However, please note that as a non-degree student you will be ineligible for most forms of financial aid.

Can I take courses at Western if my undergraduate degree will not be certified until after I wish to start at Western?

On occasion, Western Seminary will admit college seniors, who are in good standing at their undergraduate institution, as non-degree students.

Non-degree admission allows a student to enroll in graduate courses for credit, on a semester by semester basis. However, please note that non-degree students are ineligible for most forms of financial aid.

Should you be a student in this situation, in addition to the normative application process, you will be required to submit a letter from the Registrar at your undergraduate institution stating that you are a college senior, in good standing, with a plan for graduation within the coming academic year.

Will I need to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)?

No. If you've graduated with an accredited undergraduate degree, you do not need to take the GRE. If your degree is unaccredited, in addition to the normative admission process, you will need to complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and complete a portfolio of your passed educational work. For more information, please contact an Enrollment Counselor.

Who should I ask to complete my recommendation forms?

We ask for you to submit four recommendations forms as part of the application process, and these forms may be distributed electronically during the online application process, or by paper if you choose. At least one of these should be from a pastor, elder, or ministry leader who represents the church where you have membership or active participation.

We would encourage you to select three additional references that represent different parts of your life. If you are in school or have recently graduated, we recommend that another form should come from one of your professors. If you have not attended school for
many years, you can substitute a reference from an employer or business associate. References may not be relatives, such as a parent or parent-in-law, brother-in-law, etc.

Your application cannot be reviewed until all of your recommendation forms have been received, so please select references who will be able to submit a recommendation form in a timely fashion.

What if I do not know the pastor at my church? Who should I ask to complete the pastoral recommendation form?

We would like your pastoral recommendation form to be from a pastor, elder, or ministry leader at the local church you are currently attending. So, if you do not know the head pastor, you may ask an associate pastor, elder or ministry leader at the local church you are currently attending to complete a recommendation on your behalf.

If you are new to your church and do not yet know a pastor, elder or ministry leader, you may have a pastor, elder or ministry leader from your previous church complete a pastoral recommendation on your behalf. Then we would also like for you to provide an explanation about this in the admission essay regarding special circumstances.

You are also welcome to have two pastoral recommendations submitted on your behalf (one from your current pastor and one from your former pastor), if you believe a former pastor, elder or ministry leader knows you better than your current pastor.

Is it difficult to switch degree programs if I change my mind once I've applied?

It depends on the program to which you want to switch. Some programs may require new recommendations and written information. It is easier to switch programs if you do so earlier in the process. If you decide to make a change, be sure to contact us right away. It is especially important to think through your desired degree prior to enrolling in courses, as some coursework crosses into other programs while others do not. If you do decide you would like to switch degree programs, contact an Enrollment Counselor. 

English is not my first language. Will I need to do anything in order to evaluate my language abilities?

Applicants, for whom English is not their first language, are required to demonstrate evidence of mastery of the English language for graduate study. The standard for this is through the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Admission to the M.Div., M.A. (other than the M.A. in Counseling or MFT), Graduate Studies Certificate, and Graduate Studies Diploma programs requires a minimum score of 20 on each of the four section tests of the TOEFL-iBT (550 on the paper-based exam or 213 on the computer-based exam and a 3.5 writing score).

Admission to the M.A. in Counseling, M.A. in Marital and Family Therapy, and M.A. in Ministry and Leadership Coaching Track programs require scores of 20 (each) on the reading and writing sections and 25 (each) on the speaking and listening sections of the TOEFL-iBT.

Admission to the Th.M., D.Min., and D.Miss. programs require a minimum score of 25 on each of the four section tests of the TOEFL-iBT (600 on the paper-based exam or 250 on the computer-based exam and a 4.5 writing score).

Because the TOEFL exam is given only a limited number of times each year, the applicant should allow sufficient time for the results to be included in the seminary admissions process.

Can I transfer credits from another seminary or graduate school?

Yes, you can transfer credits from another accredited seminary or graduate school as long as your coursework has been completed within the past five years. All coursework, including transfer credit, must be completed within 10 years of graduation based on accreditation guidelines. Any coursework that exceeds that 10 year limit must be retaken which would include any accepted transfer credit. In order to have your prior coursework evaluated, please complete the Transfer Credit Request form prior to or concurrent with your first semester of enrollment at Western Seminary.

Can I receive credit for previous work experience or background in Bible and theology?

Yes, you can get credit by testing out of a particular course/s through Advanced Standing. Advanced Standing awards you actual credit toward the completion of your degree program and reduces your total credit hour requirement. Most programs allow you to earn up to 25% of the total hours for the degree in this manner (the MA[BTS] allows up to 50%). You must possess at least 80% or higher working knowledge of the course material and must successfully pass a competency examination (which is usually done orally) in order to be waived from the course. In order to pursue advanced standing, you must complete the Advanced Standing Request form and complete the examination process prior to the end of your first semester at Western Seminary.