Admission to the San Francisco Theological Seminary is based on a number of factors as these demonstrate potential for graduate study at the seminary. Evidence of academic ability is normally assessed on the basis of the completion of a baccalaureate degree from a college accredited by an association holding membership in the Council on Postsecondary Accreditation or on the basis of the equivalent of that level of educational achievement. Students from those parts of the world which do not have the American college institution will be accepted on the basis of an equivalent level of preparation. San Francisco Theological Seminary is proud to welcome students from around the world into our various programs. If you are applying to SFTS from outside the United States, our admissions office and student services team are prepared to help you have a successful and enriching educational experience at SFTS. The application of a person from a non-regionally-accredited institution will be reviewed on an individual basis by the Faculty Admissions Committee. The SFTS faculty admissions committee is a group of faculty members entrusted with the final decision of who will be accepted to begin their program of study at the seminary.
The Faculty Admissions Committee is looking for evidence in your application:
- Why Are You Interested in SFTS? The members of the faculty admissions committee are looking to bring the most promising people into the seminary that have a firm understanding of “why” you are entering seminary. When a student can articulate how her/his own interests are an excellent fit with our faculty, legacy, and/or curriculum, then I know she/he is taking her application seriously. Admissions committees know that you’re potentially applying to multiple seminaries – that’s fine and expected – just make sure to clarify why you’re making this particular application.
- Excellent writing ability. Misspellings and/or poor grammar are a no-no. Nothing says “I whipped this application essay together at the last minute” like a glaring set of grammatical or spelling errors. For the love of all that’s good in this world, please, please, please use spell/grammar check.
- The (How) Personal Statement. How can you tell if your Personal Statements is the right amount of “personal?” The Personal Statement is your place to shine, to show that you know how to write reasonably well, and that you have experiences that make you ripe for seminary study. This should be the one piece in your application that makes the Faculty Admissions Committee smile, thinking how well you would do at SFTS. However, the major pitfall of the Personal Statement is either making it way too personal or not personal enough. Remember that making an application is a professional act, so your writing should be crafted with professional decorum in mind. This means no gratuitous cursing and no shortened colloquial language (totes!), and it means being as succinct as possible with your stories. And yet there should be something, well, personal about the statement. Feel free to show a bit of personality, and choose relevant, brief stories as representative of your larger life narrative.
- Incomplete Application Information. So it’s a week before the deadline and you know something is missing from your file. You have been diligent with your process, but a faculty member is out of town and hasn’t responded to your reference request, or you haven’t submitted your official transcripts. What do you do? In the words of Tim Gunn, you make it work. Don’t sit idly by worrying or checking in with the Admissions Office three times per day asking if such-and-such arrived yet. That gets cumbersome when 42 other folks are doing the same thing. If you know what is missing, call or email the Admissions Office to ask if they would accept another version of that credential sent in a more expedited way.
- A Personal Interview with Admissions Staff Members or Faculty Member is Highly Recommended. We highly recommend a personal interview. If you can’t come to campus, a Skype, Facetime, or telephone interview can be scheduled. We encourage you to prepare for interviews ahead of time. The following sample questions may be used by an interviewer during an interview: Briefly share the story of your personal spiritual development? Please describe your relational style, including strengths and weaknesses? What excites you about entering seminary at SFTS?
- Does the Faculty Admissions Committee Encourage Diversity? SFTS strives to be welcoming to students regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, culture, sexuality, political convictions, physical ability, and age. SFTS has welcomed students from many different backgrounds, including African-American, Native American, Hispanic, Korean, and Filipino. We can also accommodate students with physical disabilities. SFTS does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, ethnic origin, sex, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, disability or age.
In closing, in order to do well in seminary a person ordinarily needs to have completed a degree with average grades or higher. The applicant should have the intellectual ability and academic background to engage the curriculum in a satisfactory way and to fulfill successfully the requirements of the program to which he or she is applying. Applicants whose transcripts do not reflect this may be called upon to submit other evidence of ability and/or incentive. Such evidence may be submitted in the form of recommendations and other supporting documents (essays, publications, etc.).
SFTS expects each applicant to exhibit spiritual maturity and demonstrated evidence of how the academic program chosen will deepen your spiritual roots through worship, and community involvement. Evidence of spiritual maturity will be assessed on the basis of the applicant’s description of a personal sense of calling, of experiences in the ministry, and that individual’s dedication and spiritual maturity as perceived by those who have furnished recommendations, and/or through an interview process.