International Students

San Francisco Theological Seminary is proud to welcome students from around the world into our various programs. If you are applying to SFTS from outside the United States, our admissions office and student services team are prepared to help you have a successful and enriching educational experience at SFTS.


If you wish to apply to one of our masters or doctoral programs and your undergraduate education was not in English, we require that you take the TOEFL and send your score to SFTS. Our institutional code number is 4685. To be considered for admission, you must earn a minimum score of 550 (213 on the computer-based, 80 internet-based) on the TOEFL.

If you graduated from an institution of collegiate standing outside the United States in which a bachelor’s degree is not granted, you may be admitted if you present satisfactory evidence of having completed work comparable to that required for a bachelor’s degree in American colleges and universities.

How to Obtain an I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility) Form for F-1 Visas

San Francisco Theological Seminary is authorized by the U.S. government to provide you with the I-20 document necessary to obtain an F-1 student visa. You may request an I-20 application upon your acceptance to a degree program. If you have applied to the M.Div., MATS, or D.Min. programs, you must apply for the I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility) from the Director of Student Services (the PDSO, Principal Designated School Official).To obtain the I-20, you must document sufficient financial resources ($20,525US in addition to tuition) to support study at SFTS.

STEP 1: Complete I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility) Application with Supporting Documents

The Director of Student Services/PDSO is able to answer questions about obtaining a student visa for study in the United States. Before issuing an F-1 visa application (I-20), the Seminary must have evidence in the form of bank statements and/or affidavits of support that you have sufficient resources to finance living expenses incurred by undertaking the program of study. Additionally, if you have sponsors who are willing to pledge financial support for your studies, your sponsors must complete a letter of support and an Affidavit of Support Form which is available as part of I-20 application through Director of Student Services.

Your I-20 application must include the following:

A letter from any financial sponsor attesting that they will cover all expenses for the duration of one’s studies, including tuition and fees and living expenses. (If you are financing your own studies, you should submit a letter to this effect. If you have more than one sponsor, each sponsor should submit a letter indicating the amount of their sponsorship.)

Documentation from your bank and/or the sponsor’s bank verifying that there are enough funds on deposit to cover at least the first year’s expenses.

Evidence of Financial Aid from SFTS, if awarded. You are eligible to apply for SFTS Merit Scholarships and partial tuition grants, which may be counted towards your financial resources on the I-20. However, such funds are limited and you must have other substantial financial support to meet visa requirements as part of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Please be aware that SFTS cannot provide grants or on-campus employment sufficient to support your family.

The I-20 application and all supporting documents must be submitted directly to the Director of Student Services/PDSO.

STEP 2: Apply for F-1 Visa at U.S. Consulate in Your Home Country

Once you receive the I-20, you must make an appointment for a visa interview and go to the U.S. Consulate office in your home country to apply for the F-1 student visa. You will need your I-20 and SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) number for this interview as well as other required documents such as your passport.

If you are currently studying at another school in the U.S. as an F-1 student, you will have to be accepted at SFTS and submit documentation of financial support (see above) in order to transfer to SFTS in F-1 status. Once you have been accepted and confirmed your intention to attend SFTS, notify the PDSO/International Student Advisor at both schools so that they can arrange this transfer for your SEVIS record. You would then obtain a new I-20 from SFTS.

Our admissions team and international student support office welcome your questions and look forward to helping you make a smooth transition to study at SFTS.

For more information, please contact:

Chandra Ramirez
Office of the Provost
(415) 451-2812