San Francisco Theological Seminary


Degree Programs Available from the San Francisco Theological Seminary

San Francisco Theological Seminary appears in our ranking of the 30 Best Theological Seminaries in the United States.

The San Francisco Theological Seminary offers graduate and doctoral degree programs in theology and similar fields. It has a Master of Divinity that prepares students for working as pastors and religious leaders. This program has concentrations in history and theology, biblical studies, Christian spirituality, and chaplaincy and pastoral care. Full-time students spend three years taking the 24 required classes, but part-time students can spend up to six years in the program. The seminary allows students to add an internship and spend a full year in the field too.

A Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS) is available for students who want to study divinity but want to focus more on theology. They have the option of taking online on-campus classes, online courses or a combination of both. The seminary designed this program for students who want to work for their churches but do not want to become ordained. In the spiritual care and compassionate leadership concentration, students will take classes through the Shaw Chaplaincy Institute. Other concentrations include biblical studies, ministry, and history. Students have up to four years to complete the program on a part-time basis.

Also available is a Doctor of Ministry, which the seminary previously called the advanced pastoral studies program. The program features six seminar classes, a project proposal, and a final project. They can do a dissertation instead of a project. Most students take classes in the summer to finish the program faster, but the seminary gives them up to six years to finish all of their requirements. The classes they take will depend on which concentration appeals to them. They can choose from tracks in chaplaincy and spiritual care research literacy, executive leadership, interdisciplinary studies, pastor as a spiritual leader and pastoral care and counseling.

The seminary now offers diploma and certificate programs to help pastors and other church employees. Some of the certificates they can earn include one in LGBTQ leadership that looks at how the church can help those in the LGBTQ community and one in mental health and spirituality, which focuses on using religious teachings to help those who need mental health care. Another certificate is available in trauma and spiritual care. The seminary offers diplomas in the art of spiritual direction and chaplaincy and spiritual care research literacy.

About the San Francisco Theological Seminary

The San Francisco Theological Seminary is a seminary and part of the Graduate Theological Union. Established in 1871, it was one of the first two schools founded by William Anderson Scott. Scott was a pastor in the Presbyterian Church who wanted to offer more opportunities for future pastors. It opened as Presbyterian City College in Union Square and initially had an enrollment of just four students. The seminary later moved to its current location in Marion County in 1890, which gave it even more space. The Presbyterian Church took over the operations of the seminary in 1913, a few years after it received a charter that let the school offer degree programs. Also called SFTS, it became part of the University of Redlands in 2019. The university now gives seminary students access to the same resources that other graduate students have and lets them qualify for more types of financial aid.

San Francisco Theological Seminary Accreditation Details

SFTS has accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of the Association of Theological Schools (CAATS). This is why it can offer a Master of Divinity and similar programs at the graduate and doctoral levels. It has the same regional accreditation that the University of Redlands has too, which comes from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This organization accredits schools based on an extensive review of their policies and other factors and awards accreditation to colleges in the west. Students in need of financial aid can use this accreditation when they apply for help with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

San Francisco Theological Seminary Application Requirements

Applying to SFTS now requires that students apply through the University of Redlands website. They need to create an application account, which asks for the student’s first and last names, date of birth and email address. SFTS will send an email to that address and give students access to the application once they verify that the address exists. The application has sections where students can discuss where they went to college, the experience they have working for churches and religious organizations and what they want to study at the seminary. They need both a bachelor’s degree and a minimum grade point average of 2.0 to start any theological program.

The application deadline for those who want to start in September during the fall semester is May first. All programs ask for an application and an application fee of $50. Students may need to write up to five personal statements of up to 500 words and submit their official transcripts. Most programs ask for two academic references and a letter of recommendation from a clergy member. Students also need to complete a self-disclosure form and authorize the school to do a criminal background check.

Tuition and Financial Aid

The estimated cost of attendance at SFTS is $14,400 a year. Since the University of Redlands took over the seminary, it changed the amount that students pay each year. In the diploma and certificate programs, students pay $800 per credit hour up to $1,950 per class based on which programs they select. Students also pay a $150 matriculation fee when they start and a $100 activity fee each semester.

Students can get some grants that the school bases on the need they shown on the FAFSA. Some grants will cover up to 65 percent of a student’s annual costs. Other grants cover up to half of their estimated costs. Alumni and presidential scholarships are also available. While the presidential scholarship covers 100 percent of their costs, alumni scholarships cover up to 80 percent of their costs. Students must take at least nine credits of classes each semester, make progress towards a degree and maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher to get and renew a scholarship. The San Francisco Theological Seminary has discounts for students who work for partner organizations and will accept federal loans from those enrolled in any degree program.

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