Special Instructions for International Applicants

As an international theological center, the STM represents the changing landscape of the Catholic Church on the global stage by training priests, lay ministers, and theologians from over 30 countries. While we continue to attract and train students from North America and Europe, more and more, the future leadership of the Church is emerging from South America, Africa, and Asia. The STM is a part of this movement, training some of the first indigenous professors of seminaries, universities, and theological centers in those regions.

We encourage clergy, religious men and women, and lay students from all countries to apply to our programs. Please review our admission policies and procedures before applying. Additionally, important information regarding admissions requirements and processes for international students is included below.

Evidence of English Proficiency

All applicants for whom English is not their native language must demonstrate proficiency in the English language.  Students will not be admitted into any STM program without an acceptable demonstration of English proficiency.  This must be done in the following ways:

  1. Written Essay
    In addition to the personal statement, international applicants are required to submit a 250 word essay in English in response to the question below. This essay cannot be written or edited by anyone but the applicant himself/herself. Please respond to the following question: From a theological and/or pastoral perspective, why is Christianity important today?

  2. Video Essay
    Within the online application you will find a Video Essay section, in which you will be prompted to give a 90 second verbal response to a random question. Once you are given the prompt, you will have 60 seconds to prepare your response. You will have 2 attempts to answer the question. This portion of the application requires a web-camera to complete. If you experience any difficulties, please contact our office.

  3. English Language Exam
    All applicants for whom English is not their native language must also provide test score results from one of three tests:

    TOEFL: An acceptable TOEFL score is 85 or above on the internet-based test. When taking the exam, include STM’s institutional code – 3971 – so that your scores may be sent directly to the school. You can register for the TOEFL here: www.toefl.org.

    Duolingo English Test: An acceptable Duolingo score is 125 or above on the internet-based test. Results can be sent to the School of Theology and Ministry directly from Duolingo. Register here: https://englishtest.duolingo.com/applicants

    IELTS: An acceptable IELTS score is 7.5 (band score) or above on the paper- or internet-based test. Results can be sent to the School of Theology and Ministry directly. Register here: https://www.ielts.org

The English exam requirement will be waived if:

  1. You are a citizen of Australia, Canada (except Quebec), Great Britain, Ireland, New Zealand, Guyana, an Anglophone country of Africa, or an English-speaking country of the Caribbean.
  2. You earned your prior college or university degree in the U.S.A., in one of the countries listed above in section 1, or at a college or university where the official language of instruction is English.
  3. You are currently enrolled as a full-time student in a degree-granting program in the U.S.A. or at an English-speaking school in one of the countries listed above in section 1 and will have the completed at least two academic years of college/university work before beginning your studies at Boston College.

All requests for a waiver from this requirement must be sent in writing to STM admissions: stmadm@bc.edu.

Visa Process

Before being accepted
No work on the part of the international applicant needs to be done toward a Visa until after they receive a letter of admission, have confirmed intent to enroll, and have proven financial ability for studies.

After being accepted
After being accepted, the Admissions Office will send you the Certification of Financial Support form for the I-20 document. Filling out and returning these forms to the STM Admissions Office will start the process of obtaining an F-1 visa to study in the United States. Students must meet the financial and English language requirements. International students, who are also Diocesan priests, must obtain priestly faculties to serve as priest in the Boston Archdiocese. The student’s Bishop or Major Superior must write to the Archbishop of Boston, requesting housing and faculties to function as a priest in the area. A copy of this letter should be sent to STM. Boston College can only issue an I-20, after such faculties have been secured.

Standardized Test Requirement

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is not required for international applicants.

If you would still like to submit scores, our GRE code is 2508. You can register for the GRE here: www.gre.org.


The United States Government requires all international students to prove that they have the financial means to support themselves while studying in the United States. If you are a member of the clergy or a religious, you need to document by either a bank statement or letter of support from your bishop or congregation that you have funds to live and study in the U.S. The U.S. Embassy will not issue you a visa if you do not have the necessary funds. Any tuition costs not covered by STM scholarship funds must be documented.

For information regarding international wire payments please visit Boston College's Wire Transfer Page at /offices/stserv/financial/billinfo/wiretransfer.html.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

The cost of higher education in the United States is high. STM awards tuition grants to international students depending on availability, to help ease their financial burden. Students must be enrolled in a degree seeking programs. Students must exhibit an exemplary academic record and personal potential. Students should be aware that, even if receiving a tuition grant, they still must obtain support to pay for their living expenses. Unfortunately, federal loans are not available to those who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

All international students must show that they have sufficient funds or resources to pay for their tuition and living expenses during the course of their studies, whether support comes in the form of scholarships, grants, and support from a religious order or from a personal bank account. Applicants do not need to supply evidence of sufficient resources with their applications. Once accepted, the admissions office will send a form where one can document resources.


Members of religious orders usually find housing with area parishes or religious communities. The assistant director of admissions can assist placing religious in such communities, though placement and housing is not guaranteed.  International lay students are encouraged to contact the admissions office to learn about off-campus housing options close by.