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International Student Frequently Asked Questions

International Student Frequently Asked Questions

There are many questions prospective international students might have. here are some of the most common ones we have seen. Should you have additional questions not covered here, please feel free to contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Director of Student Development.

Can Western Seminary admit F1 international students?

Western Seminary is authorized under federal law to enroll non-immigrant alien students in all degree programs at our San Jose and Portland locations.

Can I attend any of the Western Seminary campuses?

International students are generally admitted only to the Portland campus unless they have strong connections at the San Jose campus. This is usually the case if they attended an undergraduate or graduate program at an area university, or have family, close friends, or a supporting church in the area. Currently only MA in Counseling students can be considered for the San Jose Campus.

Do I need to study in the US on an F1 visa?

US law and regulations require that any non-US citizen who wishes to come to the US to study in higher education for credit towards a degree must do so on an F1 student visa unless they are already in the US on another immigrant or non-immigrant visa that allows for study.

I want to study in a online degree program. Do I need to come to the US to study as an international student?

No! Our online degrees – Master of Arts in Ministry and Leadership (MAML), Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master of Arts, Biblical and Theological Studies (MABTS), Graduate Studies Diploma (GSD) and Graduate Studies Certificate (GSC) no longer require a visit to campus and so you can remain in your ministry context as a Global International Student.

I am from Canada. Do I need a visa to study in the US?

A special consideration is made for citizens of Canada. The process for Canadian citizens is the same as all other international students except that they are not required to obtain an F1 visa from the US Embassy or Consulate or pay the visa fee. The Canadian student will bring to the border crossing their Form I-20, receipt of SEVIS payment, and supporting documents. If granted admission, the Border Patrol Office will stamp an F1 entry in their passport.

What if I am in the US in another immigrant/non-immigrant status? Can I study at Western Seminary?

Yes, you can see the requirements for Other Immigration Status both for admissions and study.

What is the cost to get a degree from Western Seminary?

This will depend somewhat on what degree program you are in, but you can check out our Expense Calculator to see what tuition per semester could look like. You can also check out  Tuition and Fees for the current year. For international students, an important consideration is that you will have to prove you have the funds for your first year. This includes tuition, books, and living expenses. You can see what these figures are at the Financial Support page. This will also give you an idea of a basic budget.

Are their scholarships for international students?

Yes! We have dedicated international student scholarships. A typical grant is 25% of tuition. New students can apply for the F1 Student Financial Assistance Application once they have completed their admission application.

Can I work while studying in the US?

The primary purpose for coming to the US is for study and so US regulation limits how much international students can work. International students are permitted to work on campus for Western Seminary only and less than 20 hours per week (may be up to 40 hours during student breaks and summer term). After the first year of study, students are permitted to pursue Curricular Practical Training (CPT), work that is directly related to their program of study and part of the curriculum (for Western Seminary that would be in the MAML, MDiv, and MAC degrees only), or Optional Practical Training which is work that does not have to be part of the curriculum, but must be related to the program of study (open to all degrees). These are still both limited to 20 hours or less.

Will Western Seminary help me get a financial sponsor?

International students are expected to find their own sponsors if they need them. These typically are family, friends, home church or denomination, or ministry partner.

Is a TOEFL or IELTS exam required for admission?

All non-native English speakers are required to submit proof of English proficiency. This is in the form of a valid (within the last 2 years) TOEFL iBT or academic IELTS exam. Minimum scores for each program and other information can be found at English Language Proficiency.

Can I get a waiver of the TOEFL/IELTS requirement for English proficiency?

Students who attended higher education in the US at an accredited institution can apply for a Waiver of the TOEFL/IELTS requirement. These are decided on a case-by-case basis. Please note that generally, Master of Arts in Counseling applicants will be required to submit a valid TOEFL iBT exam.

What is the admission process for international students?

The whole process is outlined at the Prospective F1 students page but in brief: Complete and submit a formal application for admission, following the process described, including sending a $50 application processing fee, admission essays, and personal references (forms provided). Official transcripts are required from all institutions attended following secondary school. To be official by U.S. standards, the transcript must be sent directly from the college or university to the Admissions Office of Western Seminary. Present proof of English language proficiency. Present proof of financial support. Official admission is not granted until a complete review of all required documents is conducted by the Admissions Office.

What is the application deadline for international students?

The application deadlines are a little bit earlier than for other students because of the additional paperwork required to come to the US. For fall semester admission, all application materials (application fee, application, official transcripts, proof of English proficiency, references) must be received my June 1st. Should you wish to be considered for scholarships in the coming academic term, all materials, including the scholarship application, should be received by May 1st. For spring semester admission, all application materials must be received by October 1st. For summer semester admission, all application materials must be received by February 1st.

Can my spouse and family join me in the US?

Yes, your spouse and children can come with you on dependent F2 visas. However, the amount of finances you will need to prove will be substantially more. You can check the current amounts on the Financial Support page.

Can my spouse or child study at Western Seminary as well?

Spouses were always permitted to study in recreational or avocational classes. However, recent changes to US regulation allow an F2 spouse to pursue a degree in the US in higher education as long as it is at a SEVP approved school (like Western Seminary) and in part time status. This includes online courses. If they wish to be a full time student, they will need to change status to F1. F2 children are required to study in primary and secondary education by US law. If they are pursuing higher education and wish to do so full time, they would need to change their status to F1.

Can my spouse work while in the US?

F2 spouses are not permitted to work, even on campus, while in the US.

Does Western Seminary have on-campus housing?

None of the Western Seminary campuses have on-campus housing and so students will need to find their own housing. The International Student Office can assist in this.

I studied my undergraduate degree overseas. Do I need to send in a transcript from it?

All applicants must have official transcripts submitted for any higher education institution they attended for more than 7 US semester credits. This includes any overseas institutions. You must have the institution send us official transcripts either by mail or an appropriate electronic means. We cannot except transcripts directly from a student as these are considered unofficial. Once we have the transcripts, we will evaluate them for US equivalency in degree and GPA. If you have any questions regarding this, please contact theThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

My transcripts are not in English. Do I need to have them translated?

We will need to receive either an English copy or you must have them officially translated and submitted along with a signed notice by the translation service.

I had a transcript evaluation service create a report for my overseas transcripts. Can I submit this instead of official transcripts from my overseas university?

You can submit the report but we will still need official transcripts from your overseas university or college.

I am not sure if my overseas college or degree meets the requirements to be equivalent of a US 4 year bachelor’s degree or master’s degree. How do I find out?

Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. directly with these specific questions.

Once admitted, how do I obtain an I-20 document?

You will need to go through the international student admissions process. Once you are admitted the last step in the process is the issuing of the Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 Student Status (Form I-20), which is essential when requesting a visa. In order to issue the I-20 for an admitted student, they must complete a Financial Guarantee Form which will be sent to them and supply supporting financial documents. The amounts a student will need to prove can be seen on the Financial Support page. Once a student has demonstrated that they have the required funds to pursue their educational goals, the next step is that we create their I-20 and SEVIS record. SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) is administered by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (US ICE) under the Department of Homeland Security. Your I-20 serves as the paper record of your information in the SEVIS database. We will mail the signed copy of the I-20 along with a packet of important information that will help you obtain your visa. The I-20 is a very important document that you should keep in a safe place. You will also be required to pay a SEVIS fee before you can get your visa. If you would like more information on SEVIS and the I-20 as well paying the SEVIS fee (and general international student information), please visit the Study in the States website of the Student and Exchange Visitor program at

How do I get the F1 visa?

Once you have received your I-20, signed it, and paid your SEVIS fee, you are now ready to schedule your visa interview at the US Embassy or Consulate in your country.  Each embassy may have different ways in which these appointments are scheduled or you will need to check the website of the embassy in your country.  General information about student visas, including required documentation needed and the current visa costs, can be found on the US State Department website. In addition to the required documents outlined at the above site, it is highly recommended that you also have with you: Official letter of admission from Western Seminary; Financial Guarantee Form with original copies of supporting financial documentation; Transcripts from previous study; TOEFL scores or Proof of English Proficiency. Proof of returning to your home country: Before granting a visa, the official may ask for proof that you will not remain in the U.S. after your studies.  You need clear proof of this, since you will need to convince him that you will return home following the completion of your studies at Western Seminary.  Several things may be helpful for you to prove this: If you own property, then provide written proof; If you have family members remaining in your country, tell them so; If you have NO relatives in the U.S., then tell them.  It may help your case; If you can present a letter from an employer, indicating that you have study leave, that will help; If you can supply a letter from a church, saying they expect you to join them in their church work upon completion of your program, get a letter from them. NOTE: A visa might not be granted if it is suspected that you will remain in the US.  Documents, letters, contracts, etc. proving all of the above will be helpful.  The more proof you give, the easier it will be to have a visa granted.

Are there fees for the visa and I-20?

There is a visa application fee of $160 plus a possible additional visa issuance fee based on your country. The US embassy or consulate in your country will have the specific fees required for the F1 visa. Additionally students must pay the SEVIS fee of $200 before they go for their visa interview. Canadian citizens must pay the SEVIS fee but do not pay the visa application fee.

I am interested in one of the doctoral programs. Do I need to reside in the US all year to attend classes?

The doctoral programs courses are modular in design meaning they are intensive week long classes. They are designed this way on purpose since most doctoral students just come to campus for the intensive course so that they remain in their ministry context. This is true for international students as well and actually proves to be cheaper over all. Doctoral students will need to plan their trips well so that they come within 5 months for each trip so that international student paperwork will not have to be redone (per US regulations). Please note, DMin international students cannot reside in the US because of the program requirements to be concurrently working in full time ministry which would not be allowed for international students because of work restrictions.

How many trips do I need to make to the US as a doctoral student?

This will depend on which program. The Doctor of Intercultural Studies requires 3 trips, the Doctor of Education 4 trips, and the Doctor of Ministry requires 21 credits of residential courses which is 7 classes and so 7 trips. Please note that the DIs and EdD programs now allow students to remain in their country to take the course remotely.

How can I pay my tuition and fees from my home country?

Western now has a means to pay easily from your home country through paymytuition!