International Students

The international student community at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary is diverse, thriving, and valued by the entire Gordon-Conwell community. International students across all our campuses represent 56 countries, including the UK, South Korea, Brazil, China, Nigeria, Macedonia, Haiti, the Philippines, Ethiopia, and more.

Gordon-Conwell takes seriously the task of providing quality education for international students who are preparing themselves for gospel ministry leadership in their own countries. Applicants are selected on the basis of potential for significant contribution to the Church in their own homelands. International students are expected to return to their native countries to provide leadership in ministry upon completion of their studies at Gordon-Conwell.

As a non-residential campus, the Charlotte campus does not provide the on-site room and board often required by international students. We welcome students currently in the country on an F-1 visa or other valid visa, and who provide their own living accommodations. Individuals seeking to enter the country on an F-1 visa are strongly encouraged to consider our South Hamilton, Massachusetts campus, which offers a full range of services for the international student.

Admissions Policies for International Students

Potential for Contribution to the Church
Applicants are selected on the basis of potential for significant contribution to the Church in their homeland. International students must commit to returning to their countries to give leadership upon completion of their studies at Gordon-Conwell. Letters of endorsement are required from a denominational official and a local church leader.

Vocational Goal and Christian Witness
The vocational goal of the applicant must be clear and the Christian testimony must be strong. Gordon-Conwell desires to help train Christian leaders who have a sure sense of call from God to a particular task and who evidence consistent Christian living.

Competency in English
Competency in understanding and using the English language is necessary for all international students. Students whose native language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), including the Test of Written English (TWE). This test must be taken even if English is the applicant’s second language. A TOEFL score of 570 (230 computer-based, 90 internet-based) or better is required for all master’s level degree programs.

Information regarding the TOEFL may be obtained by writing to the Educational Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey 08540, USA. TOEFL scores must be sent to Gordon-Conwell; our code number is 8737.

College Education
A four-year college degree at the bachelor’s level is required for all international applicants. A diploma is not the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree. Where an educational system differs in structure from that of the United States, Gordon-Conwell may require the applicant to submit a catalog from the school where the degree was received. An applicant may also be asked to provide a statement from a college official explaining particular aspects of the education received.

Master of Arts in Christian Counseling (MACC) Candidates
If you are applying to the MACC program, please be aware that certain admission prerequisites apply. For more information about the MACC programs at Gordon-Conwell—Charlotte, please visit our information page.

Financial Support
All international applicants must show evidence of financial support for educational and living expenses. We recommend that international students seek support from family members, friends, denominational agencies, local churches and missions boards. The Charlotte campus does not provide special scholarships for international students. Those dependent on scholarship assistance should apply to our South Hamilton, MA campus where such funding is available on a limited basis.

Family Members
Accepted students who wish to bring their family members with them to Gordon-Conwell must include those family members on their Application for I-20, indicating their anticipated status on F-2 visa. Students must demonstrate sufficient funds to cover all educational and living expenses for family members. The United States government requires that proof of financial support be given before the proper forms for entrance to this country can be granted.

Alternate Visas (non F-1)
Students currently holding a tourist visa (B-1/B-2) or students arriving in the United States from a member country of the Visa Waiver Program must still obtain an F-1 student visa in order to pursue a degree program at Gordon-Conwell. U.S. regulations do not allow persons who enter on a tourist visa or the Visa Waiver Program to enroll in an academic program while in the U.S. This restriction applies to all degree programs at Gordon-Conwell, including short-term programs and summer and inter terms. Students will be required to provide a copy of their visa or other related information upon admission to Gordon-Conwell and are solely responsible for lawfully maintaining their visa status.

Students with immigrant or non-immigrant statuses other than F-1 or B-1/B-2 must contact the International Student Advisor to provide further details. 

Submitting the 1-20 Visa Certificate Application

The F-1 student visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by a United States Embassy or Consulate abroad to international students coming to the United States for the purpose of pursuing full-time studies at an academic institution.

Visit the U.S. Department of State to learn more about the F-1 student visa.

Applying for Your 1-20/Visa Certificate

Upon acceptance to Gordon-Conwell, you must apply for a Form I-20. U.S. educational institutions provide the I-20 to support your application for an F-1 student visa at a United States Embassy or Consulate.

Application for I-20/Visa Certificate

Questions regarding F-1 student visas and the Application for I-20? Contact the International Student Advisor at (704) 527-9909 or by email to esl@gordonconwell.edu.

Submit Financial Affidavits

When completing the Application for I-20/Visa Certificate, you are required to show full proof of funding for one academic year. You must submit all original documents, including original bank statements, support letters/affidavits of support, and any other information requested of you. All documents must be dated within the last 3 months and should demonstrate reasonable means of support for future years.

Because Gordon-Conwell and the embassy/consulate both require original documents, request two sets of financial documents from each source of funding. Gordon-Conwell and the embassy official will subject financial documents (especially private sponsor guarantees) to careful review and consideration. Especially during your visa interview, be prepared to explain all financial sources and if requested, submit additional documentation as needed.

The International Student Financial Worksheet provides detailed information to help you prepare your finances and paperwork.

If you seek additional sponsors for your studies in the U.S., please send the Affidavit of Support to each sponsor.

Transfer Students (if applicable)
If you are in lawful F-1 status, completing or leaving your current program, and plan to continue your studies in the United States at Gordon-Conwell, you must complete a process for an F-1 transfer. The transfer procedure is initiated first by contacting the school you are currently attending (the transfer-out school).

SEVIS Record Transfer In Form

Canadian Students (if applicable)
Canadian citizens are not required to obtain an F-1 visa. Canadian citizens must, however, receive an I-20 and pay the SEVIS fee. Canadians are also required to abide by all other provisions and restrictions for lawfully maintaining F-1 status, including provisions for employment and full time enrollment each semester. Click here for more information regarding the visa exemption for Canadian citizens.

Preparing for F-1 Student Visa Embassy Appointment

To obtain a visa, you must first pay the I-901/SEVIS fee prior to applying at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Only the primary applicant is required to pay the SEVIS fee, meaning if you have family members that will accompany you to the U.S., you do not need to pay this fee for each family member. 

Visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to pay the I-901/SEVIS Fee.

Scheduling and Preparing for an Appointment
To apply for an F-1 (and F-2) visa, you must schedule an appointment at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. It is best to schedule this appointment as soon as you receive notice that you have been granted an I-20.

  • Locate an Embassy or Consulate Near You: Many embassies/consulates recommend that appointments be made no more than 90 days from the intended date of travel, but some can make earlier arrangements for interviews. 
  • View Wait Times: The U.S. Department of State provides estimated visa wait times at the embassy or consulate you plan to visit.
Please follow instructions for visa applications and interviews on the U.S. Department of State or Department of Homeland Security websites. 
 

After You Receive Your Visa(s)

After you receive your F-1 (and F-2) visa(s), please notify the Admissions Office to confirm your plans and receive further instructions. As you begin to make travel arrangements, please remember that by U.S. law, you are permitted to enter the U.S. no more than 30 days prior to the start date listed on line #5 of your I-20.

Information about New Student Orientation
All new students admitted to a masters-level program are required to participate in New Student Orientation. This event is held in two phases. The first part is completed online prior to arrival on campus. The second part is held on campus on a Saturday before classes begin. You will be sent further information about New Student Orientation once you have been accepted and reserved your admission.

Employment
Employment is broadly defined by the U.S. Department of State as “any service provided in exchange for financial or material compensation.” F-1 students are not permitted to accept any off-campus employment (including employment by a church or ministry) without prior United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) authorization. Such authorization may be granted to students who apply with the Designated School Official for curricular or optional practical training related to their degree program.

F-2 spouses and children are not permitted to work while in the United States under any circumstances at any time.

Maintaining Lawful Visa Status
As an F-1 student at Gordon-Conwell, you must lawfully maintain visa status throughout your entire course of study. In order to pursue study in the U.S. it is your sole responsibility to comply with all non-immigration regulations that apply to F-1 visa students (and F-2 dependents).

Lawfully maintaining F-1 visa status at Gordon-Conwell—Charlotte means that you must maintain full-time enrollment, which is equal to seven credit hours per semesterAt Gordon-Conwell, most classes are 3 credits each, so this generally means you need to take at least three classes (9 credit hours) per semester to be considered full-time. Only one online or distance education course per semester can count toward full-time status.

In order for the Charlotte Campus DSO to verify enrollment status in SEVIS, international students must submit the two forms listed below each semester. Students must return these forms via email to the  DSO within 7 business days from the first day of each semester you register for courses. The DSO will not verify your status in SEVIS without these forms.