Javascript is currently not supported, or is disabled by this browser. Please enable Javascript for full functionality.

Academic Catalog
    Mar 02, 2024  
Academic Catalog - Fall 2020 
Academic Catalog - Fall 2020 [ARCHIVED]

Graduate Admissions Policies

A prerequisite to entrance into any master’s degree program at the Seminary is a baccalaureate degree from a college or university accredited by a recognized regional or national professional accrediting agency. Graduates of colleges and universities located outside the United States and other applicants will be considered on an individual basis. Not all applicants who meet the minimum requirements can be accepted.

All questions about admission policies or requirements should be directed to the Admissions Office, SEBTS, P.O. Box 1889, Wake Forest, NC 27588-1889; phone: (919) 761-2280 or e-mail:

Apply Online for a Graduate Degree.

Academic Preparation for Seminary Degree Programs

The applicant whose undergraduate degree program features a strong liberal arts component should be well-prepared for seminary studies. At least 60 hours of coursework in the following disciplines is advantageous:

  • English, language and literature.
  • Classical languages (for example, Latin, Greek, or Hebrew).
  • Modern languages (for example, French, German, or Spanish).
  • History, including non-Western as well as American and European studies.
  • Philosophy, particularly its history and methods.
  • Natural sciences, both physical and life sciences.
  • Social sciences, including psychology, sociology, economics, and anthropology.
  • Fine arts and music, with emphasis on creativity and symbolic communication.
  • Religion (world religions, biblical studies, theology, Christian history).

Whatever their academic background, students should bring to the Seminary a broad understanding of the world and should possess the ability to communicate well. An awareness of the world in which we live includes a knowledge of persons and ideas, an understanding of significant movements in history, and an appreciation for the physical universe. Communication is of central importance in ministry. The entering student must be able to think rationally, read with comprehension, as well as write and speak clearly.

Additional information and specialized requirements for applicants are included in the descriptions of the respective degree programs.

Graduate Admission Procedures

Application for admission is made through the Admissions Office. The following items are needed before an application is considered. (Note: Original forms are required. Faxed copies will be accepted only in certain situations.)

  1. A completed application form

a. A completed Medical Information Form
b. A completed Immunization History Form (North Carolina State Health Department standards require that a completed immunization record be received by   Southeastern.)
c. Official transcript(s) from all post-secondary schools attended, sent directly to the Admissions Office from the Registrar of each school previously attended
d. A completed Church Recommendation Form
e. Spouse’s completed Personal Statement (if married)
f. A completed Southeastern Covenant

  1. Three completed Character Reference Forms (one must be from a pastor)
  2. A nonrefundable application fee of $40
  3.  A completed criminal background check

In some cases, additional documents may be required.

Applicants to Southeastern waive all rights to privileged knowledge of the decision-making process leading toward admission. All references and other evaluative documents will be confidential. The decision of the Admissions Committee acting officially on behalf of the faculty is final. However, an applicant who fails to be admitted may reapply with the same application materials for the following term or year only if materials have not passed the 1-year expiration policy.

Background Checks

In order to facilitate student admission to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and The College at Southeastern, it is necessary to conduct background checks for all applicants for on-campus studies and most distance learning students. 

Each applicant must authorize Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and The College at Southeastern to obtain a background check in order to satisfy the admission requirements as set by the institution. The information provided through the background check will be used in making admissions determination by the Admissions Committee of the institution. The only exclusions to the background check will be special exemptions made for Distance Learning students, namely students admitted through a short application for one course off-campus, college applicants under age 18, or certain international applicants. These exemptions are monitored by the Admissions Office, which has the right to administer the exemptions as necessary.

The information to be obtained from the report can also be used by other officers of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and The College at Southeastern if authorized by the student. This would include employment, missions travel, and other services as required by the institution. A separate release form will be needed for the release of information from the student’s applicant file. Further, the requests for release cannot exceed two years from the initial provision of the report. If the period of two years has passed, another report may be required.

Criminal background check
Students must clear a criminal background check before admission. Failure to undergo the background check will result in exclusion from admission consideration. If the background check indicates criminal behavior the student may not be awarded admission to the institution. Students may appeal the decision and will have the opportunity to present information to dispute the background check.

What if there is a conviction on the report?
The student is allowed by law to examine the report and will be allowed to dispute any findings contained in it if they are turned down for admission because of negative information found in the background report. If a conviction was wrongly reported, the student may request that the report be amended to change this mistake. However, the occurrence of such errors is very infrequent. In some cases, one conviction may not be a permanent barrier to admission. Simply being honest about one’s past can potentially answer questions about one’s character that arise based on the report.

Graduate Application Deadlines

Completed applications for Credit-Only, certificate programs, M.A., M.Div., and Th.M. may be submitted up to 12 months prior to the application deadline.

Prospective students are invited to submit an application for admission up to one year in advance of anticipated enrollment. Once all of the supplemental documents arrive (references, transcripts, background check, etc.) and an application is completed, it will be sent for review and the prospective student will be notified of his/her admission decision within 30 days.

There is not a firm deadline for applications to be submitted. However, since submitted applications will not be reviewed until they are completed and since the review process can take up to 30 days, we request that all applications are submitted and completed no later than one month in advance of anticipated enrollment. Applications that are submitted or completed within the final 30 days leading up to the semester may still be considered, but we will be unable to guarantee the release of an admissions decision prior to the start of classes.

Applications for the M.A. Ethics, Theology, and Culture and Th.M. with Thesis programs must be submitted at least 60 days prior to registration for consideration by the appropriate committee.

Students planning to live in campus housing should note that space is limited, and housing applications are processed by the Housing Office after the student is accepted to the Seminary for enrollment.

Graduate Admission Process

Applications take approximately 30 days to process after all required items are received by the Admissions Office. The Admissions Committee treats all material confidentially. If approved, the application file will remain valid for purposes of admission for one year from the date of approval. If enrollment is delayed beyond one year or if this application is not approved, a newly updated application with accompanying forms must be submitted. Interested parties may contact the Admissions Office at 919-761-2280 or with any questions about applications or about the admission process.

Provisional Acceptance

Under certain circumstances, applicants may receive conditional or restricted admission. For example, applicants may be admitted conditionally (Graduate Credit-Only status) prior to receipt of a bachelor’s degree if they have transcript evidence of at least 114 hours toward their bachelor’s degree. The College at Southeastern students who have been approved through the Southeastern Collegiate Partnership (SCP) and have been admitted conditionally may take up to 30 hours of seminary courses. These seminary hours will not be applicable to their undergraduate degree. No more than 30 semester hours of Seminary work may be completed until the condition is removed. Details of any condition or restriction upon enrollment will be stated in the official letter of admission.

Southeastern Collegiate Partnership

All graduate students who have completed undergraduate courses in the area of biblical studies/Christian studies at an accredited institution may request to have their transcripts evaluated by the Registrar’s Office for eligibility in the Southeastern Collegiate Partnership (SCP). If the student has received an A or B in courses meeting SCP criteria, the student may be eligible to earn credit (up to 33% of the degree) on the master’s level for corresponding classes in the seminary. To earn credit the student must pass a proficiency test (at a reduced tuition rate) or do course replacement for eligible classes. Other options may be available, and students are encouraged to contact the Registrar’s Office for further information at 919-761-2284 or

Graduate New Student Orientation

New Student Orientation is mandatory for all new students, as the days are filled with pertinent information and activities that allow new students to register for classes, pay bills, learn about policies, and meet the faculty and staff. The New Student Orientation page on the Southeastern website contains more information (


The deadline for Credit-Only application is 30 days prior to the beginning of the semester or term in which the student expects to enroll. Late applications may require delayed enrollment. Students are not allowed to register for classes until their application has been approved.

Application for admission is made through the Admissions Office. The following items are needed before an application is considered (note: original forms are required; faxed copies will not be accepted):

  1. A completed Credit-Only Application form and recent “head and shoulders” photo (color or black and white)

a. A completed Medical Information Form
b. A completed Immunization History Form (North Carolina State Health Department standards require that a completed immunization record be received by Southeastern.)
c. Definition of Categories Form
d. A completed Church Recommendation Form
e. A completed Southeastern Covenant

  1. A nonrefundable application fee of $40
  2. A completed criminal background check

Credit-Only status, permitting up to 30 hours of transferable credit work from the Seminary, is available to those who properly apply and qualify for admission. Students should not interpret acceptance under Credit-Only status as a guarantee of being admitted into a degree program in the future.

Whether this academic work will transfer into a degree program at another institution is determined by the transfer policies of that institution.

Seminary courses transferred to an undergraduate program cannot be transferred back into any Seminary-degree program. A student who through this process finds that Seminary degree requirements would be a duplication of previous work would be allowed to take non-duplicating courses in the same field in order to meet the hour requirements of the Seminary degree. The exception would be biblical languages, which would be treated under the advanced standing guidelines.

World Education Services Evaluation Requirements

To ensure accurate assessment of international transcripts, a World Education Services (WES) evaluation is required of all students who have studied outside of the United States. All official transcripts from non-US post-secondary educational institutions must be translated (as applicable) and sent directly to WES by the issuing institution. This is required before an admissions file will be considered complete. Information is available at

Students can apply for an evaluation on the WES website and should apply for the Course-by-Course evaluation if they have completed any university-level coursework.

If transcripts and diplomas are in languages other than English, students must provide a translation. On the WES form, the student must request a copy of the report to be sent to “a third party” and indicate the following:

Office of Admissions
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
PO Box 1889
Wake Forest, NC 27587-1889

WES evaluations may take up to 4-6 weeks to be completed.

International Students

The admission procedure for international students requires additional information and processing time due to Seminary policies and the requirements of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. The International Student Admissions Policies section of this catalog contains more detailed instructions.

Auditing Courses

Students, student spouses, friends of the Seminary, and other interested parties may audit seminary courses with the professor’s approval if there is space available. Auditor applications are available from the Registrar. Audit fees apply; see Tuition, Fees, & Financial Aid for more detail. Music courses are not available to audit.

Students who have completed an accredited graduate degree may be allowed to audit advanced level courses (Ph.D., Ed.D., D.Min.). In order to audit an advanced-level course, students will adhere to the following approval process:

  1. The student must fill out the appropriate form through the Registrar’s Office. This form will be utilized to get approval from the program director and professor.
  2. The student must obtain approval from the program director under which the course is listed (e.g., the Director of Ph.D. Studies for a Ph.D. course).
  3. The student must obtain approval from the professor of the course(s) to be audited.
  4. The student must pay a $200 audit fee per course. 
    1. For students, the fee will be added to their student account. 
    2. For non-students, the fee will be paid through the audit request form.

No student will be allowed to audit or “sit in” on a doctoral course without meeting the above conditions.

Unique Admissions Requirements for Graduate Degree Programs

Students Without an Undergraduate Degree or its Educational Equivalency (Masters By Exception)1
Southeastern will consider applicants who do not possess an undergraduate degree or its educational equivalency for admission into the following graduate degrees: Master of Divinity and Vocational Master of Arts degrees. An applicant without the required prerequisite degree may apply for admission to one of these graduate degrees if he or she meets the following criteria:

  1. Applicants must be at least 30 years old, and
  2. Applicants must demonstrate their ability to do graduate-level work by enrolling at Southeastern as a credit-only student and completing at least 12 hours of graduate-level coursework required in the core curriculum of the desired graduate degree (at least 6 hours of introductory courses in New Testament, Old Testament, Baptist History, Church History, or Christian Theology) with a minimum GPA of 3.0. SEBTS may grant an exception if the applicant has transfer credits from an accredited theological institution that establishes his or her ability to do graduate-level work.

The Dean of Graduate Studies must approve the acceptance of any applicant seeking to enroll without an undergraduate degree or its educational equivalent.

1 Association of Theological Schools (ATS) allow up to 15 percent of the students enrolled in respective MDiv or Vocational Master of Arts degrees to be admitted without possession of an undergraduate degree or its educational equivalent.


Master of Arts Ethics, Theology, and Culture
Admission to the Master of Arts Ethics, Theology, and Culture degree program is based on the following application elements. Note that application for admission to the M.A. Ethics, Theology, and Culture program should be made at least 60 days prior to matriculation.

  1. A set of completed standard application forms, including a background check, and the M.A. Ethics, Theology, and Culture application form
  2. Minimum 3.0 GPA in an accredited baccalaureate degree program. Applicants with degrees from colleges or universities outside the United States will be considered on an individual basis
  3. Five confidential reference forms (non-family): 1 pastor; 2 personal character; 2 academic
  4. A graded research paper from a graduate or undergraduate course, or the GRE Writing Assessment
  5. Applicants for whom English is a second language must achieve a minimum TOEFL score of 600 (100 on the internet-based TOEFL) or present an equivalent demonstration of an ability to read and write English at a graduate level

Graduate Transfer of Credits in Master’s Programs

Credits earned at other schools may be applied toward degree programs at Southeastern, subject to certain conditions: the credits must be of a comparable graduate level, in a subject appropriate to the student’s degree program at Southeastern, and awarded by a recognized accredited school. Other guidelines may also apply (Note: this policy does NOT apply to the ThM degree).

Persons seeking to transfer to Southeastern must make an application through the normal admission process. Upon the student’s request, Southeastern’s Registrar will evaluate the official transcript and inform the student of the credit that may be transferred. Students transferring credits to Southeastern must maintain a C average on courses taken at Southeastern in order to graduate (students enrolled in advanced degrees must maintain a B average).

All eligible graduate transfer credit must come from course work completed at an accredited institution. The most common accreditations that are accepted by SEBTS for transfer credit include the following: ATS, ABHE, TRACS, and SACS.

All eligible graduate transfer credit must also come from completed graduate courses with a final grade of C- or better, or reflect a “Pass” for a pass/fail grade. Students can only have a maximum of 15% of their degree be comprised of pass/fail courses. Students must also have their previous school submit an official transcript with all their final grades to the Registrar’s Office before their transfer evaluation can be completed and credits transferred to their new program.

If students use previous course work from other schools to fulfill a prerequisite for getting into a specialized program at SEBTS (e.g., MA Old Testament, MA Biblical Languages, MA Philosophy of Religion, Advanced MDIV) those courses that were used as prerequisites cannot also be used as transferable credit hours towards the program.

Courses eligible for transfer credit must be less than 10 years old and students must receive their degree here at SEBTS less than 10 years from the time each course is completed or transferred, or the credits for those courses will begin to expire.

Students can transfer in a maximum of 2/3 of the credits needed to complete a graduate degree program at SEBTS.

Seminary masters-level courses that are counted toward an undergraduate degree cannot be transferred back into any Seminary master’s degree program.

Overlapping Degrees

If a student is pursuing two graduate degrees at SEBTS simultaneously, only 2/3 of the first degree can be shared with the second degree. 1/3 of the second degree must be unique to that degree. For students pursuing an MDiv and MA concurrently at SEBTS, all of the required hours for the MDiv would need to be completed, and at least 1/3 of the total hours of the MA (i.e., this 1/3 must be credit hours unique to the MA and not shared with the MDiv).

Recommended Preparatory Reading

Many incoming students ask the question, “What should I do to get ready for seminary?”

The faculty of the seminary worked together to establish a list of books that a seminary student should consider reading as they are waiting to begin formal studies. This is not a required reading list and no one will check if the books are read. This list is designed merely to provide incoming students with suggestions for how to begin to build a foundation that will serve them better during their time in Seminary.

Adler, Mortimer J., and Charles Van Doren. How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. rev. ed. New York, N.Y.: Touchstone, 1972. (426 pp.)

Bartholomew, Craig G., and Michael W. Goheen. The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2014. (272 pp.)

Blue, Ron. Faith-Based Family Finances: Let Go of Worry and Grow in Confidence. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008. (592 pp.)

Bunyan, John. The Pilgrim’s Progress. repr. Minneapolis, Minn.: Desiring God, 2014. (254 pp.)

Coleman, Robert E. The Master Plan of Evangelism. repr. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Publishing Group, 2006. (192 pp.)

Erickson, Millard J. Introducing Christian Doctrine. Edited by L. Arnold Hustad. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2015. (496 pp.)

Fee, Gordon D. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. 4th ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2014. (298 pp.)

Grudem, Wayne. Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1999. (528 pp.)

Keller, Timothy. The Reason for God. New York, N.Y.: Penguin Group USA, 2008. (310 pp.)

Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity. New York, N.Y.: MacMillan, 1952. (260 pp.)

Miller, Paul E. A Praying Life: Connecting With God In A Distracting World. Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 2009. (288 pp.)

Packer, J. I. Knowing God. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1973. (286 pp.)

Piper, John. Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2010. (289 pp.)

Schaeffer, Francis A. How Should We Then Live? 50th Anniv. Ed. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2005. (292 pp.)

Sire, James W. The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog. 5th ed. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2009. (293 pp.)

The Holy Bible, Holman Christian Standard Bible. Nashville, Tenn.: Holman Bible Publishers, 2014.

Thielicke, Helmut. A Little Exercise for Young Theologians. Grand Rapids, Mich: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1962; repr. Eastford, Conn.: Martino Fine Books, 2014. (58  pp.)

Tripp, Paul David. Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2012. (240 pp.)

Whitney, Donald S. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. rev. ed. Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 2014. (352 pp.)

Williams, Joseph M., and Gregory G. Colomb. Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace. 10th ed. New York, N.Y.: Longman, 2010. (288 pp.)