Find below answers to some of the most commonly asked questions related to admission to Union. Not seeing your question below? Send your question to [email protected].
For frequently asked questions for the online Master of Arts in Social Justice, click here.
I don’t plan to go into ministry or work for a church. Does Union have anything to offer someone like me?
Absolutely! Whether you are primarily interested in exploring more deeply your own faith, or you have no particular faith claims at all, a Union education is for you. What is common among Union students and alumni/ae is an unflinching belief that faith, intellectual rigor, and a fearless commitment to social action make wise companions.
Is Union a Christian seminary?
Union is grounded in the Christian tradition and our ecumenical, interfaith commitment grows and strengthens through programs of exchange with churches and seminaries throughout the world. Informed by the insights of global theologies, Union embraces and addresses the richness and realities of religious pluralism to equip students to grapple with the grave issues of our age.
What is Union’s Admission Criteria?
Union recruits and admits individuals on the basis of their qualifications and abilities. It’s selection criteria is aimed at admitting a student body that represents a diversity of gifts and talents, academic backgrounds, scholastic and personal experiences, and professional aspirations; as well as age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, race and ethnicity. There is no requirement for applicants for First Degree programs to have majored in or to have done concentrated work in religion or religious studies, although broad training in the liberal arts is expected.
Can I apply to Union without a bachelor's degree, or a degree from an unaccredited university?
Students who do not have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent, or who come from an unaccredited institution, should write to the Vice President of Admissions & Financial Aid at the Seminary concerning eligibility for admission, in sufficient time to determine eligibility and to complete the application process. Contact Vanessa Hutchinson at [email protected].
Who should write my recommendations?
Consider seeking recommendations from people that know you well: people who can speak to your discernment process and decision to attend seminary, as well as your achievements, and your ministerial, intellectual and academic vocational aspirations. If at all possible, please submit at least one (1) reference written by a former professor; however, your recommendations can also be written by your pastor, or employment supervisor.
Do the recommendations have to be written on the form that comes with the application?
No, we provide that form for your convenience and to guide the recommender as to pertinent areas we consider when reviewing the recommendation. The recommendation may certainly be written on the recommender’s letterhead. The most important thing is that your referee answers the questions thoroughly.
Is the GRE required?
Only for applicants to the Ph.D. program, not for First Degree programs or the S.T.M. Please keep in mind that scores more than five years old are unacceptable, so applicants should plan to take the October GRE examinations when possible.
Can I opt out of the Language Exams?
Admitted students may request a modern language substitution or waiver if they speak a language other than English as their native language.
Can I receive a fee waiver?
I am an international student. What must I do to apply to Union?
International students are welcome to apply to any of Union’s programs. Your application must be accompanied by official transcripts furnished directly to the seminary from each of the institutions from which you matriculated with the equivalent of a B.A. (for First Degree programs)and the M.Div. (for Advanced Degree programs) or their equivalents, amounting to six or seven years of post-secondary academic study.
International applicants whose first language is not English, or who matriculated from an institution where the primary language of instruction was not English, must submit recent scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) as a part of their application to any of the degree programs at Union Seminary. Union requires a minimum score of 600 on the paper-based TOEFL test (250 on the computerized exam). For an applicant who scores below the minimum required level, we suggest additional study in English prior to making application.
Finally, since educational loan programs guaranteed by state or federal government agencies are legally restricted to U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens an International applicant must also be supplemented by written verification of your ability to meet fully the expenses of your stay in this country for the entire duration of the degree program.. International students must complete and submit to the Seminary the International Applicant’s Financial Statement. This document is required before the Seminary can assist an international student in obtaining a visa to study in the United States. Keep in mind, however, that the Seminary will not assist students in obtaining a visa if they are seeking admission to the Non-Degree program.
I’d like to attend Union as a Non-Degree (non-matriculating student). Can I do that?
Yes! We offer Continuing Education and Advanced Certificate Programs. You are also welcome to register for our SU courses. Non-degree students receive no financial aid or housing and international non-degree students must obtain their own visa by which they may travel to and study in the U.S. for the intended duration of their study. Non-degree students are also ineligible for admission to degree programs during the current academic year of their non-degree year. If it is your intent to matriculate at Union, non-degree students must also apply for admission to a degree program the following fall.
Can I attend online?
Union offers a variety of online programs, including our new Master of Arts in Social Justice (MASJ), which is a 36-credit degree that can be completed fully online and is designed for part-time students and working professionals. It prepares students to think critically, intersectionally, and creatively about the ongoing pursuit of a more just society and equitable world.
Union also offers online SU courses and Advanced Certificate Programs.
Union's transfer policy?
Students who have earned prior graduate school credits from accredited theological school, without having earned a degree, may request transfer credit evaluation for the Master of Divinity or Master of Arts degree programs.
A maximum of 45% of credits for the Master of Divinity or Master of Arts degrees may be considered for transfer. Union Theological Seminary does not guarantee transfer credits until after a student is enrolled. In the student’s first Fall semester, the official transcript should be emailed to the Associate Dean for review. Before course registration for the first Spring semester, students meet with the Associate Dean to review evaluation of the transfer credits, then credits are applied to the student’s record.
Bachelors degree credits cannot be transferred into any academic program at Union. Credits cannot be transferred into the STM or PhD programs.
Can I defer admission?
If you have been admitted to Union, you may defer admission for one (1) year provided that you notify us in writing and pay a $250 non-refundable tuition deposit by the deadline.
What do I need to do to be considered for scholarships?
All applicants whose complete application for admission reaches the Admissions by the priority deadline for the First Degree program, and January 6th (deadline is December 15) for the doctoral program will be considered for a merit scholarship or fellowship. If you have been awarded a scholarship or fellowship, you will be notified via the letter of admission. If the admission letter does not indicate that you have been awarded a scholarship, then you did not receive one. However, you may still be eligible for need-based grants and other forms of Financial Aid.
What types of financial aid does Union offer?
Union offers both merit- and need-based financial aid to all qualified applicants. Merit based aid in the form of scholarships and fellowships is offered solely on the strength of the application, without regard to financial need. Scholarships and fellowships are offered upon the applicant’s initial application to the Seminary. Among other things, criteria include the clarity and strength of the Admission Statement, the official transcripts, and the letters of recommendation. Students with financial need as determined annually by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may be awarded need-based aid in the form of grants, federal loans (Perkins and Unsubsidized Stafford loans), and federal work-study. There is no requirement to live on campus to receive financial aid.
What Scholarships do you offer that recognize and reward an individual’s commitment to service and justice work?
People committed to service and justice work have been coming to Union since its founding in 1836.. Union has chartered a trailblazing course in urban ministry, leading students through close scrutiny of social justice issues and how faith informs leadership in the church and the world.. Union has also been a leader in funding scholarships for women and people of color, as a real indicator of our commitment to diversity and inclusion.. Teaching fellowships, though usually reserved for Ph.D.. students, are at times awarded to master-level students.. Union offers the following scholarships to attract and engage students committed to service and social justice:
- Presidential Scholarship, Union’s top award covering full tuition and living expenses
- Union Scholarships, full tuition
- George Andover Taylor Scholarship for Parish Ministries, partial tuition
- The Hispanic Ministries Scholarship, partial tuition
- The Allen Wright Scholarship (Native American students), partial tuition
- Asian American Ministries Scholarships, partial tuition
- Union Heritage Scholarships, partial tuition and living stipend
If I am a PhD Student, am I required to live on campus?
No, PhD students may use their stipend for on or off-campus housing.
Still have questions? We love questions here at Union. Share them with us at [email protected] or call 212-280-1556.