APPLYING TO RELIGIOUS AND THEOLOGICAL STUDIES SCHOOL

There are two main options for pursuing religious and theological studies: a specifically faith-based institution or the Religious Studies or Theology Faculties at secular schools. Sometimes this difference can affect the admission and application requirements you need.

Most undergraduate university religious studies degrees--regardless of the institution's faith affiliation-are competitive and require high school graduation with a minimum overall average of 60% or higher in five senior level courses, including English and often math. Degrees in theology, however, are a little bit different. Because most Bachelor of Theology programs are designed for those seeking ordination or continuation to the Master's level, academic standards tend to be higher, with required averages of around 75%. A student's overall academic average or Grade Point Average (GPA) is also considered. The competitive GPA can change from year to year depending on the quality of the applicant pool and the number of places available. Students from Quebec must have completed one year of CEGEP (or other post-secondary education). Applicants who have completed work at another post-secondary institution may be considered for Transfer Student status; such students must submit official transcripts of all post-secondary studies. Non-native English speakers will be required to submit official documentation showing a TOEFL score. Additional potential requirements include reference letters, questionnaire, current résumé, proof of English proficiency, personal essay or letter of intent. Religious studies or theology programs with field work or ministry components may ask for a child abuse registry and/ or criminal record check.

Application is in two steps. For direct entry from high school, the initial application can be made online or by completing the school's application form and mailing it with a non-refundable application fee (usually $25-$100). Where relevant, students should apply using their provincial application centre. Secondly, you must request to have your official high school transcripts, as well as official transcripts for all previous post-secondary studies, mailed directly to the university you are applying to. Official transcripts must be sent directly from your school or provincial Ministry of Education to the admissions office.

At the community college level, there are not as many secular colleges offering general religious studies; however, you find many specialty Christian colleges emphasizing spiritual formation, professional ministry and religious and/or theological studies. Christian colleges, which tend to be somewhat smaller than the universities, often specify that applicants meet both academic and spiritual requirements. Academically, a grade 12 diploma or its recognized equivalent is generally required. However, some colleges strive to be as inclusive as possible with an open admissions policy in which students are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. This policy does not require a particular GPA. Spiritual requirements might state that applicants must be Christian men and women who agree to certain doctrine, values and beliefs, and many Christian colleges do require reference form(s) to be completed by the appropriate person(s), and mailed directly to the Admissions office. You may be asked to sign a college's statement of belief or community commitment form as part of the application process. In some cases, a health and lifestyle questionnaire may be part of the application, and programs comprising ministry may require a specific church or pastoral reference.

Canadian universities and colleges offering religious and theological studies generally operate on the traditional fall/ winter semester system, and application deadlines can be anywhere from February to August for the fall semester, and from November to December for winter. Some limited-enrolment programs have earlier admission deadlines and may require an interview. You should make sure to check out the specifics in advance at the institution's admissions or registrar's office.