The Certificate in Theological Studies offers religious education to those who want to study in the seminary setting -- without admission to a master’s degree program. The certificate program allows the student to select six courses of her/his choosing, with the permission of each professor. Students can also choose to complete one of three concentrations in the Certificate - the Ministry Preparation Concentration, the LGBTQ Studies Concentration, and the Concentration in the Study of Black Faith and Life.
Certificate Program Application
The Certificate in Theological Studies is designed to offer theological education for persons, including professionals in fields other than ministry, who wish to explore theological studies in the seminary setting, but do not desire admission to a master’s degree program. The certificate program allows the student to select six courses of her/his choosing, with the permission of each professor. Students may also choose to complete one of three concentrations in the Certificate - the Ministry Preparation Concentration, the LGBTQ Studies Concentration, and the Concentration in the Study of Black Faith and Life.
Qualifications: Certificate applicants must have completed a Bachelor’s degree. Certain persons who do not have a Bachelor’s degree may apply as a Student at Large (S.A.L.). See separate application.
1. APPLICATION PROCESS: Completion of the online application form is only one part of the comprehensive application process. Official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and application for financial aid will be submitted in hard copy. Applications must be complete before they will be forwarded to the CTS Admissions Committee for consideration. Please plan accordingly to meet the appropriate deadlines.
2. ONLINE APPLICATION FORM: The bulk of your application information will be collected by way of the online form. Read all directions prior to beginning the form to understand the requirements for the degree program to which you are applying. Prepare your written materials and assemble them in one document to be submitted as an attachment. Identify the persons who will serve as referents. Gather information regarding institutions attended and degrees received. Determine your form of payment for the application fee.
3. WRITTEN MATERIALS: Written materials should be carefully assembled into one document to be included as an attachment on the online application form. The application form will refer to this collective document as an “essay”.
1. Autobiographical Statement: Please write an autobiographical statement of approximately 250 words briefly discussing what leads you to pursue theological studies at Chicago Theological Seminary.
2. Resume: Provide a current resume or a brief description of any of the following: your recent work experience, participation in volunteer and community service, religious or church involvement, and any honors/awards you have received.
4. REFERENCES: Certificate applicants are asked to provide two (2) letters of reference: Normally, two academic references or one academic and one professional reference are required. If you have been out of school for an extended period and are not able to secure an academic reference, please select someone who might be able to speak specifically to your intellectual abilities and gifts for written/oral expression.
List the names and contact information for these references on the online form. Identify the type of reference (academic, pastoral, or professional/personal).
Provide a copy of the downloadable REQUEST FOR REFERENCE to each of the two referents named on your application form. Prior to delivery to the referent, complete the top section, identify the type of reference, and sign the form.
It is an expected courtesy for you to provide each person with a pre-addressed, stamped envelope. Each writer should return the completed reference directly to CTS (or to you) in a sealed envelope with a signature across the back flap.
Reference waiver: Unless otherwise indicated, you waive your right to review letters of reference. Waiving your right will assure freedom of full expression in the evaluation you are asking each person to provide. If you do not wish to waive this right, you must indicate as much on the reference form.
5. ACADEMIC RECORDS: Provide the names of all colleges and universities attended or presently attending and indicate the degrees earned or expected on the online form. List them in chronological order. The online form can accommodate up to five institutions.
Request the Registrar of each institution to send an official transcript of all academic work in a sealed and signed/stamped envelope directly to CTS. Please include transcripts for all post-secondary schools attended, including those at which you did not earn a degree.
6. APPLICATION FEE: A non-refundable $50 application fee is required of all online applicants. Payment may be made by debit card or credit card (MasterCard, Visa, Discover Card or American Express.) Persons serving as volunteers, team members, Corp members, staff and alums of the AmeriCorps, City Year, Peace Corps, and VISTA are eligible for an application fee refund. Refund will be done by mail following receipt of proof of affiliation.
7. CERFTIFICATE APPLICATION CHECKLIST: A downloadable checklist is provided for your convenience to assist you in organizing your materials and completing the requirements.
8. SUBMISSION: Transcripts and sealed references should be mailed to:
Chicago Theological Seminary
1407 E. 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
9. FACULTY INTERVIEW: Once your application file is complete and ready for review by the Admissions Committee, the Office of Admissions will contact you to arrange a brief personal interview with a member of the CTS faculty. The interview may be done in person or by telephone.
10. GRANTING OF CERTIFICATE: Those admitted to the Certificate in Theological Studies program will receive a Certificate in Theological Studies upon satisfactory completion of six courses. “Satisfactory completion” is defined as achieving a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale. Certificate recipients are invited to participate in commencement ceremonies.
11. TRANSFER TO A DEGREE PROGRAM: Courses completed as a part of the Certificate program, with a grade of B or higher, can be applied towards a Master of Arts (Religious Studies), a Master of Arts in Religious Leadership, or a Master of Divinity program at a later date. In order to transfer credit and pursue a degree program, Certificate students must apply for admission and be accepted to the degree program desired.
12. STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS: All applicants must complete the admissions process within two years of submission of application materials. No applications will be held after two years. Applicants who are not accepted to CTS may only re?apply after two years, and must re?submit an application. Submission of an application and the supporting documents assumes that the information is accurate and true to the best of the applicant’s knowledge. All documents submitted as a part of an application become the property of the Chicago Theological Seminary and are not transferable to a third party.
Concentrations in the Certificate
Our general Certificate in Theological Studies is designed for persons, including professionals in fields other than ministry, who want to explore theological studies, but who do not desire admission into a Masters program.
- There is a brief, separate certificate application. Certificate applicants must have earned a Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Those individuals who wish to study at CTS but do not have a bachelor's degree can apply as a Student-at-Large (SAL).
- In the general Certificate program, you take 6 courses of your choosing, and on completion, receive a Certificate in Theological Studies.
- Once you have completed a certificate, if you choose to apply to a degree program at CTS, you can transfer the course credits into the degree program.
In addition to the general Certificate program, in which students take any selection of courses they like, you can also choose to focus your Certificate using one of three concentrations.
For Online Learners
Both the general Certificate in Theological Studies and the Certificate concentrations can be completed using whatever approach is most convenient for the student. The Certificate can be completed entirely through online courses, entirely through face-to-face courses, or through a combination of online and face-to-face courses (including January and Summer week-long intensives).
Certificate Concentration in Ministry Preparation
This concentration is appropriate for any student who seeks preparation for ministry, but cannot pursue a full degree program. This concentration may provide an appropriate foundation for alternate paths to ministry within the United Church of Christ. However, individuals should work closely with their conferences and associations to ascertain that the coursework they complete will be appropriate given each conference’s requirements for those pursuing alternate paths to ministry.
Persons desiring this Certificate will take at least:
- 1 Bible course (from the Hebrew Bible or New Testament sections of the Course Listing)*
- 1 Theology course (from the Theology section of the Course Listing)*
- 1 Ministry course (any course designated CM)*
- UCC History and Polity or an alternate Polity or Church History course as appropriate
- 2 electives
* Generally an introductory level course.
Certificate Concentration in the Study of Black Faith & Life
This Certificate is designed to offer a specialized course of study for persons, including professionals in fields other than ministry, who wish to explore issues in the study of Black Faith and Life within a theological framework, but are not necessarily interested in pursuing a degree.
Certificate students who choose to concentrate in the Study of Black Faith & Life may take courses toward the concentration either at CTS or via pre-approved courses at other Association of Theological Schools (ACTS) seminaries. All students must complete the required Introduction to the Study of Black Faith and Life seminar.
- Introduction to the Study of Black Faith and Life - TEC 390
- Four (4) CSBFL electives.
- One additional elective.
Certificate with an LGBTQ Concentration
The Certificate Concentration in LGBTQ studies is designed to offer a specialized course of study for persons, including professionals in fields other than ministry, who wish to explore LGBTQ issues within a theological framework, but are not necessarily interested in pursuing a degree.
To qualify for the LGBTQ Concentration, a minimum of 4 of the 6 courses must be drawn from the list of courses identified by the Faculty as satisfying the Concentration requirement. The remaining courses can focus on any subject in theology or religious studies.
- Four (4) electives within the LGBTQ Concentration
- Two additional elective courses