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    Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
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    14542 Choate Circle
    Charlotte, NC 28273
    Toll-Free: (855) 211-2474

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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 ministry leadership in their own countries.

Which program is right for me?

International students have several options available to begin their theological education at Gordon-Conwell.

  1. International students are strongly encouraged to consider our South Hamilton, Massachusetts campus, which offers a full range of services for the international student. The Charlotte, North Carolina campus also serves a significant number of international students, particularly those who do not require provided room and board.
  2. The online Certificate in Christian Studies can be completed fully online without any need to travel to the United States.
  3. The online Master of Arts in Christian Ministries can be completed 50% exclusively only and 50% with a combination of online coursework and intensive residency experiences. A valid F-1 visa (see admissions policies below) is required anytime a student wishes to enter the country to complete residency requirements. International students who are intent on applying for this degree program should speak with our Admissions Team prior to applying. Please contact onlineprograms@gordonconwell.edu to set up a phone or Skype meeting.
  4. The online Master of Arts in Christian Leadership can be completed 50% exclusively only and 50% with a combination of online coursework and intensive residency experiences. A valid F-1 visa (see admissions policies below) is required anytime a student wishes to enter the country to complete residency requirements. International students who are intent on applying for this degree program should speak with our Admissions Team prior to applying. Please contact onlineprograms@gordonconwell.edu to set up a phone or Skype meeting.

Admissions Policies for International Students

Prospective international students have the same core application requirements as American students, with a few exceptions. Prospective students should familiarize themselves with these application requirements. In addition, prospective international students must demonstrate:

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, 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. The results must be sent to Gordon-Conwell. 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. The Gordon-Conwell code number is 8737.

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.

Financial Support
All international applicants must show evidence of financial support for educational and living expenses. Serious consideration of the high expense of living and studying in the United States must be made. We recommend that international students seek support from family members, friends, denominational agencies, local churches and missions boards. The Online MAR program 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.

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.

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.

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:

Application for I-20-Visa Certificate 2012-2013

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
Admissions Office
14542 Choate Cir.
Charlotte, NC 28273
Any questions regarding F-1 student visas and the Application for I-20/Visa Certificate should be addressed to the Admissions Team at (855) 211-2474 or by email to onlineprograms@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 in the amounts specified on page two of the application. 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.

Any financial support coming from family, friends, sponsors, church or mission organization must be validated by the supporting party(ies). Each supporter should submit an original, dated and signed letter on letterhead (if applicable) indicating their relationship to the student, the reason for their support and the amount (in dollar figures) which they will contribute to the student each month/year and for how long this support will be provided. These letters should be sent directly to the Admissions Office at the Charlotte campus. Any private supporter (i.e.. friend, family, sponsor) should also include documentation, such as bank statements, showing their ability to provide the amount pledged.

If prefered, supporters can complete and submit one of these affidavit forms, along with supporting documents:

Affidavit of Support - Parents and Family

Affidavit of Support - Church, Ministry or Government Organization

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

Paying 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. Click here to pay the 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 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.

After You Receive Your Visa(s)

After you receive your F-1 (and F-2) visa(s), please notify onlineprograms@gordonconwell.edu 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.

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 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 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 for the online MACM or MACL program is equal to six credit hours per semester. Only one online or distance education course per semester can count toward full-time status. Due to this requirement, for those in the online MACM program, we recommend that students complete their residency requirements at the beginning or end of their program.