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Master of Sacred Theology

Applicants to the S.T.M. Program must have earned a Master of Divinity Degree (or first graduate theological degree providing equivalent theological background) and demonstrate aptitude for advanced theological study.

The S.T.M. application process includes:

  • Official transcripts from all academic institutions attended;
  • Four letters of reference—at least two must be academic, one may come from a pastor or other ministry professional, and one may come from a supervisor or friend;
  • An autobiographical statement, as guided by the questions stated within the application form;
  • A current resume;
  • A two page statement of proposed focus of study, as guided by the application instructions;
  • A brief interview with a member of the CTS faculty, scheduled by the Admissions Office upon completion of the application paperwork, (as needed.)
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores are required of applicants for whom English is not a first language. The exam must be completed no more than two years prior to application. The TOEFL may only be waived if the applicant has completed another degree, in English, in the United States.

STM Application

The Master of Sacred Theology is a one-year program of advanced study beyond the Master of Divinity (or its equivalent) designed for students who seek the opportunity to study a topic in theology with an advanced focus. Emphasis is placed on cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural approaches to biblical, ethical, and theological studies.  The Master of Sacred Theology program is ideal for: international students desiring additional year of study in the U.S.; students seeking additional academic preparation prior to pursuing a Ph.D. program; Master of Divinity graduates and pastors on sabbatical who would benefit from one year of advanced academic study in an area of theological interest.

Application Instructions

Qualifications: Applicants to the Master of Sacred Theology Program must have completed a Master of Divinity Degree or first graduate theological degree providing equivalent theological background and demonstrate aptitude for advanced theological study.

  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 documentto be included as an attachment on the online application form.  The application form will refer to this collective document as an “essay”.
    -Autobiographical Statement: Please write an autobiographical statement (2000 words or less) incorporating a response to the following:
    -Describe your religious history and/or a personal experience that has led you to pursue theological studies.
    -What are your educational and vocational goals in seeking theological education?
    -What do you believe to be two of the most important issues facing society that demand theological response, and why?
    -Current 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.
    -Statement of Focus: Please submit a two-page statement of your proposed focus of study.  This statement should identify the level of prior theological education that you bring, indicate the objectives that you intend to accomplish through your study and note the kinds of courses that would be appropriate in pursuit of these objectives.  The focus should be sufficiently broad to ensure that there will be an adequate number of courses offered at CTS and through the other ACTS seminaries to meet your needs.  At the same time, it must be sufficiently narrow to permit you to meet your objectives within the 8 course structure of the program.
  4. REFERENCES: S.T.M. applicants must submit four (4) written references. At least two (2) of the references must be academic. One may come from a pastor or other ministry professional, and one may come from a professional colleague or personal friend.

    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 four 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. MASTER OF SACRED THEOLOGY APPLICATION CHECKLIST: A downloadable checklist is provided for your convenience to assist you in organizing your materials and completing the requirements.
  8. SUBMISSION: Transcripts, sealed references, and the CTS Application for Financial Aid form 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. FINANCIAL AID: Applicants admitted to the Master of Sacred Theology Program are automatically granted a 50% Tuition Fellowship.  No application for financial aid is required, unless you are applying for federal loans.
  11. 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 transferrable to a third party.

International Students

Chicago Theological Seminary welcomes applications from international students for admission to graduate study.  International students should plan to begin their studies at the Seminary in the Fall Term. All necessary documents must be received by the appropriate application deadline.Follow the general application instructions above, noting the following additions and clarifications:

  1. TRANSCRIPTS written in a language other than English must be accompanied by a notarized translation.
  2. APPLICATION FEE:  A non-refundable $50 application fee is required of all online applicants. Payment may be made by credit card (MasterCard, Visa, Discover Card and American Express), debit card, or direct withdrawal from a bank account.
  3. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language):  TOEFL scores are required of applicants for whom English is not their first language. The minimum acceptable TOEFL score is 550 on the written test, 217 on the computer test, and 80 on the internet-based test.  The CTS school code for the TOEFL is 1120. The TOEFL may only be waived if the applicant has completed another degree, in English, in the United States.
  4. I-20 FORMS:  I-20 forms are not issued until after an international student is admitted. If admitted, your admissions letter packet will include a CTS International Student I-20 Application form and an estimate of the cost of attendance for your degree program. The form will explain the financial documentation requirements for the issuance of the I-20 by the seminary. You may contact the CTS Office of Financial Aid prior to applying for information about cost of attendance or I-20 requirements.