Pursue your passion. Do something with your faith. Challenge yourself at a world-class graduate school of theology. Whether you’re interested in ministry, social justice or serious religious scholarship, CTS will take you to the Next.

Certificate Program

The Certificate in Theological Studies is designed to offer theological education for persons, who wish to explore theological studies in the seminary setting, but are not necessarily interested in pursuing a degree.

Applicants to the Certificate program must have completed a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Under certain conditions, persons who do not possess an undergraduate degree may apply to study under the non-degree status of Student At Large with hopes of achieving a certificate at a later date. [Please see the Student At Large (non-degree) Status--Criteria for Admission for more details.]

Though a wide variety of academic and life experience provide adequate preparation from which to pursue a Certificate in Theological Study, it is to the applicant’s advantage to have background in the humanities, strong written and oral communication skills, mature intellectual abilities, and the capacity to think critically.

Application to the Certificate program is simple. G.R.E. scores are not required. The application process includes:

  • Official transcripts from all academic institutions attended;
  • An autobiographical statement (250 words or less) describing your interest in theological study;
  • A current resume or a brief description of your recent work experience, participation in volunteer and community service, religious or church involvement;
  • Two letters of recommendation as described within the Certificate Application Instructions;
  • A brief interview with a member of the CTS faculty, scheduled by the Admissions Office upon completion of the application paperwork.

Certificate Application

The Certificate in Theological Studies is designed to offer theological education for persons, including professionals in fields other than ministry, who wish to explore theological studies in the seminary setting, but do not desire admission to a master’s degree program.  The certificate program allows the student to select six courses of her/his choosing, with the permission of each professor. Students may also choose to complete one of four concentrations in the Certificate - the Ministry Preparation Concentration, the LGBTQ Studies Concentration, the Concentration in Interreligious Engagement and the Concentration in the Study of Black Faith and Life.

Application Instructions

Qualifications:  Certificate applicants must have completed a Bachelor’s degree. Certain persons who do not have a Bachelor’s degree may apply as a Student at Large (S.A.L.). See separate application.

1. APPLICATION PROCESS: Completion of the online application form is only one part of the comprehensive application process. Official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and application for financial aid will be submitted in hard copy.  Applications must be complete before they will be forwarded to the CTS Admissions Committee for consideration.  Please plan accordingly to meet the appropriate deadlines.

2. ONLINE APPLICATION FORM: The bulk of your application information will be collected by way of the online form. Read all directions prior to beginning the form to understand the requirements for the degree program to which you are applying.  Prepare your written materials and assemble them in one document to be submitted as an attachment.  Identify the persons who will serve as referents. Gather information regarding institutions attended and degrees received. Determine your form of payment for the application fee.

You may complete the form in more than one session.  Once you have completed the first screen and proceed to the next, a PIN will appear at the upper right hand corner of the second screen.  For convenience, keep your PIN handy.  You will use this number to access your application at any time, once you have exited.  Once you have begun your application, you will have 30 days to complete the form.  Online applications that are not completed within 30 days will be discarded.  If you experience technical difficulty, please contact the Office of Admissions at 773-896-2410 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

3. WRITTEN MATERIALS: Written materials should be carefully assembled into one document to be included as an attachment on the online application form.  The application form will refer to this collective document as an “essay”.

1. Autobiographical Statement: Please write an autobiographical statement of approximately 250 words briefly discussing what leads you to pursue theological studies at Chicago Theological Seminary.

2. Resume: Provide a current resume or a brief description of any of the following: your recent work experience, participation in volunteer and community service, religious or church involvement, and any honors/awards you have received.

4. REFERENCES: Certificate applicants are asked to provide two (2) letters of reference:  Normally, two academic references or one academic and one professional reference are required. If you have been out of school for an extended period and are not able to secure an academic reference, please select someone who might be able to speak specifically to your intellectual abilities and gifts for written/oral expression. 

List the names and contact information for these references on the online form.  Identify the type of reference (academic, pastoral, or professional/personal).

Provide a copy of the downloadable REQUEST FOR REFERENCE to each of the two referents named on your application form.  Prior to delivery to the referent, complete the top section, identify the type of reference, and sign the form.

It is an expected courtesy for you to provide each person with a pre-addressed, stamped envelope.  Each writer should return the completed reference directly to CTS (or to you) in a sealed envelope with a signature across the back flap.

Reference waiver
Unless otherwise indicated, you waive your right to review letters of reference. Waiving your right will assure freedom of full expression in the evaluation you are asking each person to provide.  If you do not wish to waive this right, you must indicate as much on the reference form.

5. ACADEMIC RECORDS: Provide the names of all colleges and universities attended or presently attending and indicate the degrees earned or expected on the online form. List them in chronological order. The online form can accommodate up to five institutions.

Request the Registrar of each institution to send an official transcript of all academic work in a sealed and signed/stamped envelope directly to CTS.  Please include transcripts for all post-secondary schools attended, including those at which you did not earn a degree.

6. APPLICATION FEE:  A non-refundable $50 application fee is required of all online applicants. Payment may be made by debit card or credit card (MasterCard, Visa, Discover Card or American Express.)  Persons serving as volunteers, team members, Corp members, staff and alums of the AmeriCorps, City Year, Peace Corps, and VISTA are eligible for an application fee refund.   Refund will be done by mail following receipt of proof of affiliation.

7. CERFTIFICATE APPLICATION CHECKLIST: A downloadable checklist is provided for your convenience to assist you in organizing your materials and completing the requirements.

8. SUBMISSION: Transcripts and sealed references should be mailed to:

Chicago Theological Seminary
Admissions Office

1407 E. 60th Street

Chicago, IL 60637

9. FACULTY INTERVIEW: Once your application file is complete and ready for review by the Admissions Committee, the Office of Admissions will contact you to arrange a brief personal interview with a member of the CTS faculty.  The interview may be done in person or by telephone.

10. GRANTING OF CERTIFICATE: Those admitted to the Certificate in Theological Studies program will receive a Certificate in Theological Studies upon satisfactory completion of six courses. “Satisfactory completion” is defined as achieving a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale.  Certificate recipients are invited to participate in commencement ceremonies.

11. TRANSFER TO A DEGREE PROGRAM: Courses completed as a part of the Certificate program, with a grade of B or higher, can be applied towards a Master of Arts (Religious Studies), a Master of Arts in Religious Leadership, or a Master of Divinity program at a later date.  In order to transfer credit and pursue a degree program, Certificate students must apply for admission and be accepted to the degree program desired.

12. STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS: All applicants must complete the admissions process within two years of submission of application materials. No applications will be held after two years.  Applicants who are not accepted to CTS may only re?apply after two years, and must re?submit an application. Submission of an application and the supporting documents assumes that the information is accurate and true to the best of the applicant’s knowledge. All documents submitted as a part of an application become the property of the Chicago Theological Seminary and are not transferable to a third party.

If you have questions, please contact the Office of Admissions at 773-896-2410, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..