Currently students from over forty countries are attending Southern Seminary. There are additional items that that are required of international students to begin seminary.

Follow the checklist below for exact requirements for study under the F-1 student visa.

If you need further assistance, please consult our current catalog (PDF) or contact our Supervisor for International Services.

Southern Seminary is authorized under Federal law to enroll non-immigrant alien students. Students with F-1 visas can study at the Louisville campus only.

The seminary is NOT authorized by the USCIS (Immigration Service) to accept international “visiting scholars” with J-1 Exchange Visitor visas, whether as students or researchers.

As US immigration regulations are often subject to change, any international student seeking to study without F-1 visa status must first contact the seminary’s Supervisor for Ministry Resources and Internationals before making application.

Admissions Requirements for International Students

  • For applicants whose native language is not English, an official score report not more than three years old on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required prior to admission. Applicants for Master of Arts or Master of Divinity programs must score at least 83 on internet-based tests, 220 on computer-based tests or 557 on paper-based tests. Applicants for Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry, or Doctor of Philosophy programs must score at least 95 on this test.
  • Applicants, other than Doctoral applicants, who are graduates of a United States college or university may request a waiver of the TOEFL requirement.
  • International students seeking F-1 (student) visas must provide the seminary’s Supervisor for Ministry Resources and Internationals with affidavit(s) of adequate annual financial support and unless transferring from a U.S. school, provide a deposit. This deposit is necessary in order to ensure at least minimum funds to begin studies. Guidelines for determining the required amount for the deposit and the annual support are available on the International Student Checklist.
  • International applicants are advised to submit their applications at least four months prior to the semester or term in which they wish to begin studies. If admission materials are not complete at least 45 days prior to the date when the applicant wishes to begin studies at Southern, the applicant will be notified of the withdrawal of their application.
  • The seminary cannot provide any applicant a Form I-20 necessary for the F-1 (student) visa unless, at least 30 days before the semester or term begins, the applicant has been approved for admission and has provided the financial documents and deposit mentioned.
  • Once accepted, applicants should plan to arrive on campus at least one week before new student orientation (but may not arrive more than 30 days before classes begin) in order to adjust to the community and receive assistance for special needs.
  • Health insurance must be obtained before the student can enroll in courses. F-1 visa status students are eligible to earn a maximum of two master’s level degrees at SBTS. Questions concerning admission to master’s programs may be directed to the Admissions Office (
  • Questions regarding admission to doctoral programs should be addressed to the appropriate Doctoral Studies Office (either Professional or Research). Questions about financial or visa matters should be directed to the Supervisor for Ministry Resources and Internationals (