Theological ESL Programs

Experience the Program



One-Year Program                                                   

The GCTS Theological ESL Program is a customizable, one-year program which prepares international students for the challenges of seminary education. Students attend theologically-focused ESL classes, American culture experiences and field trips. At the end of their ESL studies, students will complete CT500 - Introduction to Theological Research, a class required for all GCTS degree programs. Students who complete the ESL program will receive a certificate.

Year Long Program

The Year-Long Program is divided into 3 terms of 13-15 weeks each. Students attend classes during the day (between 9am and 3pm) from Tues, Wed & Thursday. There are currently no weekend or night time ESL classes. Most students attend 3 days a week, depending on needs and abilities.

“During the IS 502 course, I learned about graduate-level research and writing skills and theological thinking. This class was crucial because it was a bridge from ESL to regular seminary courses. Previous in-class learning was also very helpful for my reading and writing development. In addition, the American history classes and field trips helped me to deeply understand American culture. Through the history classes, I felt God’s heart for America.”
– Bongmin Jang, current MACL student.
“The ESL program is a wonderful place to prepare for seminary because I can feel the presence of God in the classroom. I have experienced deep intimacy with God and classmates through devotion time and sharing prayer requests. The ESL instructors are not only skillful teachers, but also gifted with insight. The staff have warm hearts, like family.” 
– Gloria Son, current student.

"I think that ESL program helped me not only improve English ability, but also sustain Christ centered life." – Donghyun Moon, current student.

Students attend 18-24 hours of class each week depending on needs and abilities. Classes are divided by level into semester-long units. Students are placed into the level that fits their ability from beginning to advanced. All full-time students on F-1 visas take four courses each semester:

All full-time students on F-1 visas take four courses each semester:

  • Speaking and Listening (2 credits)
  • Writing and Grammar (2 credits)
  • Reading and Vocabulary (2 credits)
  • American Culture and History (1 credit)
* Additionally, students may have opportunity to audit a seminary class or evening Bible enrichment class as part of their program.


Each course requires active in-class participation and homework. Students also learn and practice skills such as critical thinking, proper source citation and giving presentations to help them succeed in the American seminary classroom.

  • Fall Semster: September 8 - December 19, 2015
  • Spring Semester: January 19 - May 7, 2016
  • Summer Term: June 1 - August 20, 2016

The tuition rate for Charlotte ESL students is $450 per credit hour plus the $150 student service fee per semester. The total cost for three semesters the 2015-2016 academic year is $9,900 for tuition and books only (or $3,300 per semester). Applicants must also pay the I-901 SEVIS fee as part of the visa process. Housing, food and other incidental costs are extra.

  • If you would like to stay with a Host Family, please contact Maureen Laniak

4-Week Immersion Program

The GCTS immersion program is a high-speed, intense four-week immersion program. It combines English language learning, educational travel, American cultural experiences and of course, theological training. GCTS will work with your organization or group to create a customized experience to fit you!


Students attend 15-18 hours of class per week and participate in wide range of cultural activities and educational field trips each weekend and during the weekday. All immersion students will take four courses:

  • Speaking and Listening
  • Writing and Grammar
  • Reading and Vocabulary
  • American Culture and History

Each course requires active in-class participation and homework. Classroom activities may include group projects, whole-class discussions, theological readings and other types of collaborative exercises.

This program does not meet the requirements for issuing an I-20 or obtaining an F-1 visa.  However, it may be possible to obtain another visa to participate in this experience (i.e. B-1 tourist visa).

  • Summer Immersion: July 9, 2015 – August 8, 2015
  • Summer Immersion: July 7, 2016 - August 12, 2016
  • Please inquire about other dates that would fit your groups’ needs.
Field Trips

Students experience four weekend field trips. In addition to locations in the great Charlotte, NC area, the following locations are possibilities:

  • Savannah, Georgia
  • Jacksonville, Florida
  • Washington, DC
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Charleston, SC

The program cost for 2015- 2016 is $2,400 for tuition and books only. Housing, food and other incidental costs are extra.

Apply Online | Visit Our Campus | Request Information

Common Questions

Q. Where is GCTS Charlotte?

A: The seminary is located in the Steele Creek area of south-west Charlotte. It is very close to the border of South Carolina. Other towns or areas nearby include: Ballantyne, NC; Lake Wylie, NC; Pineville, NC, Fort Mill, SC and Rock Hill, SC.

Q: What if I want to start classes immediately, but I missed the application deadline?

A: Apply as soon as possible. Depending on enrollment numbers it is possible for students to begin later in a term.

Q: Do I need a TOEFL score to start in the ESL program?

A: No. You can enter the ESL program without a TOEFL score. If you have a TOEFL score, we can place you into the best level more quickly and easily. You will take a level assessment test when you arrive.

Q: How many levels of ESL do you have?

A: We offer 4 levels. Basic, beginning, intermediate and advanced. It is possible for a student to be in two different levels at once if his or her skill levels are unbalanced. For example, if a student is good at listening and speaking, but poor in reading and writing, she may be in intermediate for reading and advanced for speaking.

Q: I don’t want to attend seminary classes. Can I still study ESL here?

A: Yes! We know our students have different goals. We do integrate daily devotionals, occasional chapel attendance and theological principals into our ESL classes.

Q: Can I study ESL at GCTS as a part-time student?

A: It depends on your type of visa. We can create a part-time course schedule for students who want/need it.

Q: Does GCTS offer housing or have dormitories on campus?

A: No, GCTS does not have dormitories on campus. However, we can help you arrange a home-stay situation with an American family. Please contact Maureen Laniak if you are interested in a homestay experience.

Q: Does GCTS offer any programs for spouses or children of students?

A: Not at the moment. We hope to get a free program for spouses going in the future. Spouses and children are encouraged to attend field trips and other cultural activities.

Q: Does GCTS offer health insurance for international students in the ESL program?

A: No. There are several companies that provide health insurance for international students studying in the United States. Be sure find one that fits your needs on Google.

Q: Can I use the bus or subway to get to school?

A: You need to buy a car. Unless you live within walking distance to the seminary, you will most likely need a car. The Charlotte bus system only covers major roads. We don’t have subways in Charlotte.

Q: What will I find on campus?

A: The Charlotte campus is a commuter campus. This means everyone lives away from campus and drives to school. There are classrooms, offices, a library, student lounge and chapel on campus. There are no dormitories, coffee shops or other buildings that you would find at a major university.

Q: How can I find the best church for me in the Charlotte area?

A: There are over 700 places of worship in Charlotte alone, so you will have plenty of options to choose from! Just ask staff, faculty and other students for ideas. It will help if you know what kind of experience you are looking for (traditional, contemporary, a particular denomination).