Quick Facts

What can I do with a Masters degree from SFTS?

Our graduates are innovative leaders in the church and society. They work as hospital, military and street chaplains. They serve in churches as pastors, youth directors, and mission coordinators. They direct non-profits and are leaders in organizations that promote peace, justice, and healing. They pursue PhDs and Doctor of Ministry degrees to teach or develop specialized skills in counseling, executive leadership, and justice work.

How long will it take to complete my degree?

Our MDiv degree can be completed in three years or extended out if you wish to study part time. Our MATS and the GTU Common MA each take two years to complete with full-time study.

Do you have online classes?



Students in the new online MATS program will benefit from the same rigorous, fully-accredited curriculum as their residential counterparts, and they will enjoy the additional advantages of remote access and flexibility — critical considerations for the working student who is committed to earning a degree, but has less time to devote to campus-based learning.

In addition to the online MATS program, we have several other online courses and are adding more each semester! Check with our Admissions Team to learn more.

Do I have to be seeking ordination?

Ordination is not required. Ordination to a congregational or alternative ministry is sometimes a vocational goal for SFTS students, but not always. Some students seek an SFTS degree for personal and professional enrichment on a non-ordained career path. In addition, some students have already been ordained and worked in ministry for many years. Whatever your goal, you’ll find a welcoming community ready to support you in your unique path.

Do I have to be Presbyterian?

You do not have to be Presbyterian to attend SFTS. Our students come from for wide variety of backgrounds, including United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, American Baptist, Pentecostal, and many others. Other students are not affiliated with any tradition. It’s important to check with your ordaining body to see if they hold any restrictions with respect to SFTS degrees.

What is the GTU?

SFTS is one of ten member schools in the internationally known Graduate Theological Union in nearby Berkeley. As an SFTS student, the GTU will provide you with a choice of over 300 courses a semester and access to renowned scholars who are experts in every area of theological discourse.

When are your application deadlines?

Our MDiv and MATS deadlines are: May 1 for Fall, and December 1 for Spring. After May 1 and December 1, late applicants are considered on a space available basis. The deadlines for the GTU MA are February 1 for Fall and October 1 for Spring.

What type of financial support does SFTS offer?

At SFTS, we are committed to working with students toward a shared goal of making seminary affordable. We are pleased to contribute to our students’ support through SFTS need- and merit-based scholarships, as well as through our subsidized housing. Federal student loans are also available through the Financial Aid Office at the GTU.

Do I need to take the GRE exam?

You do not need a GRE exam score for the MDiv or MATS programs. For the MA at the GTU, GRE scores are required of all applicants whose native language is English.

Do I need to take the TOEFL exam?

Students whose primary language of education was not in English must receive an 80 or better on the internet-based TOEFL exam before being considered for admission to an SFTS master’s degree program. International students who have already earned a four-year bachelor’s degree taught in English may be eligible for a waiver of the TOEFL requirement.

Tell me about spiritual direction within the Church.

Spiritual direction, an ancient ministry of the church, is a relationship in which one person assists another, or others, in attending to God’s presence and call. Spiritual direction has been, and remains, particularly strong within Roman Catholic and Orthodox religious orders, and over the past 20 years Anglican and Protestant traditions have begun to recover it more fully. There is also a growing interest in spiritual direction among other faith traditions, such as Judaism and Buddhism. Throughout Christian history, spiritual direction has traditionally been practiced by ordained clergy alone. In recent years, however, this practice has widened to embrace the spiritual gifts of non-ordained persons as well. Today, spiritual direction is regarded as a ministry open to all, not an order or office reserved for the few.

Do people practice spiritual direction as a fully self-supporting vocation?

While there is a growing movement to practice spiritual direction outside the Church, the SFTS spiritual direction program encourages spiritual directors to stay connected to congregations and other communities of faith.

If so how?

Some spiritual directors do support themselves through their profession. Some retreat centers and counseling centers, for instance, hire spiritual directors to supplement the spiritual and psychological services they offer. There is, however, controversy around the question of whether or not to charge those in need of spiritual assistance. Furthermore, those involved in spiritual direction disagree about what role, if any, the Church should play in offsetting such expenses.

Is there a license or credential that one must obtain in order to practice spiritual direction?

At the present time one need not obtain any licenses or credentials in order to practice spiritual direction. However, the professional organization Spiritual Directors International is currently discussing the need for such professional requirements. Furthermore, different churches may have their own denominational requirements regarding the oversight of this ministry.

How will I notify others of my availability as a spiritual director?

Many spiritual directors become known through word-of-mouth or through referrals made by a community of faith to which they are connected. One can also utilize Spiritual Directors International, which publishes an international directory of spiritual directors.

What is the best resource for information on spiritual direction programs?

We recommend Spiritual Directors International as a comprehensive resource for such information. The Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction program at SFTS may be completed alone or in combination with either the Doctor of Ministry, the Master of Divinity or the Master of Arts in Theological Studies degrees.

Do the charismatic or Pentecostal traditions offer spiritual direction and/or spiritual direction training?

Is there an academic pre-requisite?

Admission is open to persons (ordained or non-ordained) from any denomination who have completed or are in the process of completing an advanced theological degree. Admission is also open to those applicants who can demonstrate sufficient background in Bible and theology. Applicants lacking in these areas may be admitted provisionally, upon condition that they fulfill an additional two-course requirement before beginning or completing the program. These courses, one in biblical studies and one in Christian theology, must be pre-approved by the Director of the program. Admission to the DASD program requires without exception a bachelor’s degree.

Is housing available?

Short-term on-campus conference housing is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Availability of housing varies year to year according to the size of the full-time resident student population. Applying early for housing is strongly recommended. Housing costs vary and depend upon the quality of the accommodations and the student’s need for a single or shared bedroom. Housing applications that include descriptions of the various accommodations are mailed to students each Fall. For each January term, typical housing costs range from $625-$1,300 per person for on-campus housing in either our seminary conference center or on-campus apartments. Housing costs will vary from year to year.

How do I find a spiritual director in my area?

Contact Spiritual Directors International, PO Box 3584, Bellevue, WA 98009-3584.

Phone: 425-455-1565. Email: office@sdiworld.org


What kind of financial aid is available?

SFTS offers two types of institutional-based financial aid: (1) merit scholarships, and (2) need-based grants. The Seminary also participates (through the Graduate Theological Union) in the federal student-loan program and offers support for VA benefits.

Merit scholarships are awarded to students who demonstrate leadership in the church and in other forms of service, strong academic performance, and promise for ministry. Scholarships are renewable over the course of your studies at SFTS. Presidential scholarships are awarded to students in each incoming class, cover 100% of tuition, and are renewable each year. Alumni scholarships cover 75-85% of tuition and also are renewable. Merit scholarships are available to M.Div. students who are enrolled at least half-time and making satisfactory academic progress toward the degree.

Need-based grants are awarded to students based on financial need and can cover up to 65% of tuition. The student’s need is determined based on the information supplied in the SFTS financial aid application and the FAFSA. Need-based grants are available to M.Div., MATS, and GTU MA students who are enrolled at least half-time and making satisfactory academic progress toward the degree.

What kind of student loans are available?

San Francisco Theological Seminary participates in the Federal Direct Loan program, as administered through the Graduate Theological Union (GTU). Federal regulations limit these loans to domestic (US) students only.

Through the direct loan program, an eligible graduate student may borrow pursuant to a federal direct unsubsidized loan to help finance the cost of education, including the costs for books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and other expenses that are part of the official cost of attendance. A student is not required to demonstrate financial need to borrow a Direct Stafford Unsubsidized Loan. The total amount of aid offered in any given year, including grants, loans, scholarships, and outside aid may not exceed the amount of your cost of attendance. For more information on federal student loans, visit the GTU’s website and the Financial Aid pages of the SFTS website.

How do I apply for financial aid?

To apply for SFTS scholarships and need-based grants, complete and return the SFTS Financial Aid Application (Domestic or International – International students must also complete the I-20 application) to the Director of Student Services at SFTS.

If you are a domestic student you must also complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Enter the SFTS federal school code of G01279 in the “School” section of the FAFSA.

If you are an international student, you must submit copies of your bank statements for the past three months with your International Student Application for Financial Aid. Statements are required for each and any bank accounts that you use or will use to fund your tuition and/or living expenses.

How do I apply for student loans?

Student loans are processed through the GTU. To apply for a federal student loan, you can apply through the GTU’s federal-loan application process:

Submit the GTU’s Financial Aid Application for Domestic Students to the GTU’s Consortial Financial Aid Office.

Submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to the U.S. Department of Education by your school’s priority deadline. If your taxes are not complete by this deadline, use estimated tax information. If you use estimated tax information on the FAFSA, be sure to make a correction to your FAFSA as soon as your actual tax information is available. It is recommended that you complete the FAFSA online; however, to request a paper FAFSA, please call 800-433-3243. Be sure to designate your school of affiliation in the school section and to include the correct Federal school code for SFTS, G01279. To check on the status of your FAFSA, call 800-433-3243.

Because of federal regulations, federal student loans are only available to domestic (U.S.) students.

What is the deadline for applying for financial aid and student loans?

Prospective students applying for admission are encouraged to submit their financial aid materials during the application process, and no later than May 15. Returning students must submit all application materials by the priority deadline of April 15.

What type of housing is available?

SFTS has a variety of housing options available for eligible full-time students. SFTS student housing is subsidized by the seminary, and offered at below-market-rate rents.

SFTS student housing options include two- and three-bedroom apartments for families; one-bedroom apartments for couples and single students; and shared one-bedroom apartment suites for single students. The new Student Village features two- and three-bedroom apartments.

Who is eligible for student housing?

Student housing at SFTS is provided primarily for students enrolled full-time in a degree program. Priorities in the assignment of housing are based on the degree program and the number of people in the household. Eligibility for housing also is limited to a certain number of years for each degree program, based on the years anticipated to complete the coursework for each degree program.

How do I apply for student housing?

For new students, applications for housing should be submitted promptly after admission, by June 1 at the latest. Housing assignments are made in the order of receipt of the tuition deposit. While the Seminary makes every effort to accommodate all students who need Seminary housing, no guarantee of placement is implied by admission to the degree program. Please apply as early as possible for priority consideration. Returning students must apply for housing no later than March 15.

For more information on SFTS student housing, click here. 

How can I search the over 300 courses offered through cross registration with the GTU member schools?

All courses offered throughout the GTU are listed in the online searchable GTU Course Schedule. You can search courses by term, school, day, time, etc.

How can I request a transcript?

Download the SFTS Transcript Request Form. The form has instructions for submitting a request.

Is there a fee for transcripts?

The fee for official and unofficial transcripts is $15 each.

I have an account to login to Populi and another one for Moodle. What is the difference?

Populi is the student portal to our student information system which allows you to register for and drop classes, accept financial awards, choose health insurance options, and view grades.

Moodle is an online course management system which allows faculty to teach online courses and to supplement their in-person courses. In order to access materials in Moodle, you must first be registered for the course through Populi. Your teacher will then give you instructions for accessing Moodle resources.

For help with Populi and Moodle, contact the registrar at kdmartel@sfts.edu.