International Students

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

General comments and queries can be directed to admrep@gcts.edu. Questions about receiving an F-1 student visa can be directed to the International Students Office at internationaloffice@gordonconwell.edu.

Information for Master's Level Applicants (M.Div., MA, Th.M.)

Please review all the information on this page carefully. If you are an international student interested in pursuing the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree program, click here.

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 themselves to returning to their countries to give leadership upon completion of their studies at Gordon-Conwell.

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Competency in English
Competency in understanding and using the English language is necessary for all international students. The ability to handle graduate studies requires facility in English. Therefore, international students are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). This test must be taken even if English is the applicant's second language. The results must be sent to Gordon-Conwell. A TOEFL score of 90 (570 paper-based) or better is required for masters students and 91 (575 paper-based) or higher is required for the Th.M. Information regarding the TOEFL may be obtained online at their website. The Gordon-Conwell code number is 3424. If your country’s primary language is English, you may have the opportunity to have an interview with one of our Admissions Representatives. Please contact the Admissions office for further details and scheduling.

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College Education
A four-year college degree at the bachelor's level is required for all international applicants. Normally, a diploma is not the equivalent of a bachelor's degree. Superior academic work should be evident. 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.

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Master of Arts in Counseling (MACO) & Master of Theology (Th.M.) Candidate
If you are applying to one of these two degree programs, please be aware that both carry admission prerequisites. Applicants applying to the Master of Arts in Counseling must have followed an undergraduate or prior graduate degree program that included a recommended minimum of 20 semester hours in the areas of psychology, sociology and counseling.

When applying into the Master of Theology degree program, please specify which track you are pursuing. Applicants applying to the Master of Theology (Th.M.) must have obtained an M.Div. or its equivalent with a grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Appropriate knowledge of the biblical languages is also required.

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Family Members
Accepted students who desire to bring their family members with them to Gordon-Conwell must receive approval from the seminary prior to arrival in the United States. They must show proof of sufficient funds to cover living expenses and all transportation costs 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.

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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.

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Scholarships
Each year, Gordon-Conwell is able to offer a limited number of full-tuition scholarships to highly qualified international students for full-time study, beginning in the fall semester. The scholarship, if awarded, does not include living expenses, books or travel. To be considered for this scholarship, international applicants must complete their application by the December 1 that precedes the date of expected enrollment.

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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 with immigrant or non-immigrant statuses other than F-1 or B-1/B-2 must contact the Admissions Office to provide further details. 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.

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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.

All of the relevant forms for applying for an I-20 and arranging for shipping:

Click here to learn more about the F-1 student visa.

Complete and Submit the Application for 1-20/Visa Certificate
After you are accepted to Gordon-Conwell, you begin another application process to receive a Form I-20 to use in support of an application for an F-1 student visa at a United States Embassy or Consulate. Complete and submit the Application for I-20/Visa Certificate:

1 - Application for I-20-Visa Certificate 2013-2014

Once you have met all the requirements for receiving a Form I-20 (including the financial certification portions of the application), please submit your completed application materials to the following address:
 
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
ATTN: Assistant Director of Student Life Services
130 Essex St.
South Hamilton, MA 01982
 
Any questions regarding F-1 student visas and the Application for I-20/Visa Certificate should be addressed to the International Students Office at (978) 646-4062 or by email to internationaloffice@gordonconwell.edu.

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Complete the Financial Affidavit Form
When completing the Application for I-20/Visa Certificate, you are required to show full proof of funding for one academic year in the amounts specified on page two of the application and on the Financial Certification form. You must submit all original documents, including original bank statements, support letters/affidavits of support, and any other information requested of you. Because Gordon-Conwell and the embassy/consulate both require original documents, request two sets of financial documents from each source of funding.

All documents must have been prepared within the last 3 months and should indicate reasonable means of support for future years. Gordon-Conwell will not accept any financial documents more than 3 months old. 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.

2 - Financial Affidavit 2013-2014

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Arranging for Shipment
Gordon-Conwell will send this information to you through regular mail (if you are in the U.S.) or certified mail (if you are outside the U.S.).

Students are recommended to use e-Ship Global for receiving their documents. If you are in the United States, you may still use e-Ship Global or choose to have all documents shipped through the United States Postal Service at no charge. Follow directions here:
If you are not in the United States and/or do not have online capabilities or a credit card, or if you do not feel comfortable using e-Ship Global, Gordon-Conwell will ship all documents to you and charge your student account. Please remember that this charge must be paid to Student Financial Services in full upon arrival on campus.

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Submit Affidavit of Support Forms (if applicable)
If you are receiving financial support, each supporter must complete an Affidavit of Support form. Complete and submit these forms, as needed, along with your application. You may also choose to provide another affidavit of support format, provided that the affidavit contains all of the information contained in the forms provided.

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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).

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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.

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Preparing for F-1 Student Visa Embassy Appointment

Paying the SEVIS Fee
Click here
to pay the SEVIS fee.

To obtain a visa, you must first pay a fee (called 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. Some embassies or consulates will accept the online generated SEVIS fee receipt, while others may require the official receipt generated by SEVIS and sent to you via mail.

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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 of Consulate Near You: Click here to locate the nearest embassy in your home country via the website for the United States Department of State. It is difficult to estimate how long you will need to wait until your visa interview. 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: Click here for estimated visa wait times at the embassy or consulate you plan to visit.
When you visit the embassy or consulate, bring your passport, Form I-20(s), all financial documents used to apply for your I-20, as well as passports for each dependent that will accompany you to the U.S. You will also need two passport-size (37mm x 37mm) photographs of each visa applicant. If your family name is different from your dependents, be prepared to show documents that prove your relationship (e.g. marriage certificate or family registry). You will complete Form-OF 156 (Non-immigrant Visa Application Form) along with any supplementary forms required by the particular embassy or consulate. On occasion, a Visa Officer may require evidence (in addition to the certification on your Form I-20) of English proficiency sufficient to pursue your proposed program of study as well as proof of economic/social ties to your native country.
 
In most cases applications must be made in person. The length of visa validity, number of entries permitted, and application fee are based on reciprocity and generally reflect your country’s policies for granting visa privileges for full-time study in the U.S. Remember, the Officer has the final word on your application; his or her judgment is not subject to review. Standards for visa eligibility may be considerably more rigorous than the standards you must meet to qualify for a Form I-20. Use good judgment as to whether to submit additional information with your entry visa application.

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Visa Information

Websites of U.S. Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Department of State Information on Student Visas

Practical Resources for F-1 Students

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After You Receive Your Visa(s)

After you receive your F-1 (and F-2) visa(s), please notify the Admissions Office and/or International Student Services at Gordon-Conwell 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.

  • Applying for on-campus housing: Housing information and application, which must be submitted by April 1 to be given priority for assignment for Fall semester housing or November 1 for Spring semester.
  • Arriving on-campus: Rides from Boston's Logan airport provided by current students or other members of the Gordon-Conwell community. There is a $45 charge for this service, payable to the driver.
  • Preparing for life in the United States: Our office will help you with receiving social security numbers and drivers' licenses. We also offer a mandatory orientation for all international students during New Student Orientation, which will include information about lawfully maintaining your F-1 visa status.
  • Hosting fellowship activities: Our office hosts various fellowship opportunities for single and married international students, including ministry to International seminary wives.
Other Important Information for Incoming F-1 Students

Essential Registration and Academic Information for New Students
To make your time at Gordon-Conwell as enjoyable and productive as possible, you'll need to get acquainted with the various policies and forms. Click here for more information.

The Office of International Student Services at Gordon-Conwell
International Student Services is part of the Office of Student Life Services, which is located in Room Kerr 318. Please contact the International Students Office for more information: (978) 646-4062 or internationaloffice@gordonconwell.edu.

Post-Arrival Guide for International Students and Families
A guide containing helpful information has been prepared to assist you (and your family) with the transition from your home country to the United States. While it is not comprehensive, it should provide a useful guide to adjusting to student life at Gordon-Conwell, American culture and ways, and life in New England.

Click here to view the Post-Arrival Information Handbook. Please note that you can refer to the table of contents on pages 2-4 to locate various topics. You can click each link in the table of contents to go directly to each section, and easily search for relevant topics such as "clothing," "food," or "shopping" using the search feature of your PDF file reader.

Information about New Student Orientation
Student Life Services hosts a required general orientation for all new students. Click here for more information.

Employment
Serious consideration must be made with regard to the employment provisions and restrictions of the F-1 (and F-2) student visa. 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, which may be granted to students who apply first through the Office of Student Life Services 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.

Health Insurance
Massachusetts law mandates that all full time students (6 or more credit hours) at Gordon-Conwell's Hamilton campus have health insurance coverage. Gordon-Conwell students are, therefore, required either to purchase the Student Accident and Sickness Insurance Program through University Health Plans, or demonstrate proof of sufficient health insurance coverage for each semester enrolled (also referred to as “waiving coverage”).

Non U.S. Based Insurance: Students with non-U.S. based health insurance plans are not permitted to waive coverage. This means any insurance provider that is not based in the U.S. and does not have a U.S. based claims payable address cannot be used to waive the student insurance requirement.

Family Members: It is important that students obtain adequate health insurance coverage for each member of their family. While the seminary plan is available to dependents at additional costs, coverage is available through other sources as well. However, we encourage students to determine what other plans cover and whether this coverage will be sufficient for their family. Regardless of the cost, students must ensure that family members are covered under a comprehensive medical plan.

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 includes, but is not limited to, the following:

Full Time Enrollment Requirement: F-1 visa students are required to register full time each semester (fall and spring) at Gordon-Conwell. Full-time status at Gordon-Conwell is equal to 7.5 credit hours per semester. At Gordon-Conwell, most classes are 3 credits each, so this generally means you need to take at least three classes per semester to be considered full time. Only one Semlink (i.e. Gordon-Conwell's distance learning format option) course per semester can count toward full-time status.

Employment Restrictions: F-1 student visas have strict employment restrictions. 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 must not accept any form of off-campus employment unless prior USCIS authorization is granted, which may be granted to students who apply with the Designated School Official/International Student Adviser in the Office of Student Life Services for training related to their degree program. This training is referred to as Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT). Authorized on-campus employment is permitted for F-1 visa holders only, though it is limited.