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Calvin Seminary Admissions Essays

Any person who possesses a theological degree from an accredited seminary, has a good academic record, and desires to take seminary graduate courses is eligible for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy program. To apply for this program, you should complete this online application. Once you create an account, you may save the application as you work. All application materials must be in by January 15 for consideration for the following academic year.

1. Completed application form and $50 application fee

  • Essays: The application includes two brief essays, an autobiography and a statement of purpose for your program of study.
  • Recommendations: Please be prepared with the names and contact information of three references — two faculty with whom you have done your major work and one church leader. Upon submission, your references will be emailed electronic recommendation forms to complete. Please note: We ask that none of your references be family members or spouses.
  • Payment:Please be prepared to pay $50 USD by credit or debit card when completing the application. This is a non-refundable processing fee. The application cannot be submitted without payment.

Start or continue an application

2. Official transcripts

Applicants must possess a Master of Theological Studies, Bachelor of Divinity, Master of Divinity, or Master of Theology degree from an accredited school or must possess the equivalents of such degrees. Applicants’ previous record must show outstanding academic performance, with a minimum cumulative GPA of at least 3.3. Applicants must also present evidence by way of transcript or otherwise that they know Hebrew, Greek, and a modern foreign language (preferably Dutch, French, German, or Spanish).

Applicants must request official transcripts from all prior colleges, universities, seminaries, and/or professional schools. An official transcript is a sealed copy sent directly from the institution. Please have your transcripts sent to:

Calvin Theological Seminary
Attn: Admissions
3233 Burton St. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546

3. Writing sample

Applicants must also submit a research paper of 20-40 pages that in their estimation exhibits their best ability to do theological research and analysis. The paper may be one submitted for academic credit in a previous degree program, or it may be the result of independent research. Please send a hard copy to the address above or a PDF or Word document to admissions@calvinseminary.edu.

4. GRE (Graduate Records Exam) scores

Applicants should have their GRE scores sent directly to Calvin Seminary at the address above.

5. TOEFL or IELTS score (non-native English speakers only)

  • TOEFL: a minumum internet-based score of 90 total with 23 in the writing section is required (use institutional code 1096 to order scores)
  • IELTS: a minimum test score of 6.5 total with 6.5 in the writing section is required (order scores through testing location, no institutional code needed)

Anti-Discrimination Statement

Calvin Theological Seminary is dedicated to God’s church and its multi-cultural and multi-ethnic expression. Calvin Seminary does not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, race, marital status, or national origin and gathers such information on this application form for statistical purposes only.

Visiting Ph.D. Students

The Ph.D. program welcomes those who are enrolled in other Ph.D. programs and wish to enroll in courses at Calvin Theological Seminary for one or more academic terms. Additional information is available at the seminary web site (calvinseminary.edu) and in the seminary catalog.

Ph.D. students in other programs who wish to enroll as visiting Ph.D. students at Calvin Theological Seminary should submit the following information in order to apply:

  • A completed Ph.D. application form, including the autobiography, statement of purpose, and $50 application fee.
  • A transcript of the student’s doctoral work in progress.
  • At least one letter of recommendation from the student’s current faculty adviser and/or director of doctoral studies.

1. Forgetting to spell check. Or grammar check. Or double check.

It’s hrd to be taken serriously when theirs mistakes. Ask someone you trust to edit your essay (just make sure you don’t submit an essay with their comments still in the document!).


2. Being a know-it-all

Remember to talk about what you hope to learn on campus, not just how campus is going to learn from you.


3. Making it a resume

The essay isn’t a list of facts or accomplishments. It should be a story about who you are. Don’t be afraid to show some vulnerability.


 4. Hiding your personality

The essay isn’t about finding a cool topic. It’s about what makes you uniquely you. What makes you curious? What makes you wonder? What are your passions?


5. Using incorrect facts

For example, if you’re writing to Calvin College, don’t refer to it as “Calvin University.” Be sure to do some research about the school and their programs.


6. Being a drama king/queen

You don’t have to have an epic story. One admissions counselor said: “Some of the best essays I’ve read depicted the value of an everyday event, about seeing something special in everyday life and how it led them to pursue a certain major or start on a new course in life.” See, it’s that easy! 

Apply to Calvin!