Certificate in Christian Studies

Program overview

A certificate program that nurtures a life of discipleship and mission

This flexible Graduate Certificate in Christian Studies will deepen your understanding of the Christian faith and issues of vocation and ministry. Considering full-time professional Christian service? Credits earned in the GCCS program will typically transfer if you enroll in a Seminary degree program.

See how you can apply the GCCS personally and in your community.

Program Overview

Focus of this certificate

The Graduate Certificate in Christian Studies program is designed for lay people, and it will enable you to develop the knowledge base, the skill set, and the multicultural sensitivities needed to understand the Christian faith and put it into faithful and effective practice in a hurting world.

Whether you are interested in deepening your understanding of the Christian faith and reflecting on issues of vocation and ministry, or you are considering entering full-time professional Christian service, the flexibility of the program will work well for you.

In this program, you will experience rich opportunities for worship, fellowship, and personal spiritual growth in the context of SPU’s evangelical Wesleyan heritage.


  • The program is highly flexible. You can complete the required 11 credits in one year of part-time study.
  • Students engage with introductory content in three major disciplines: Scripture, History, and Theology. 
  • If you subsequently enroll in a Seminary degree program, credits you earn in the GCCS program are all transferable.
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To earn a Graduate Certificate in Christian Studies, you must be accepted into the program and complete 11 credits as laid out below.

Required courses

Certificate students will take the following courses:

  • THEO 6001: Acts of Piety (2)
  • THEO 6010: Bible I - Interpreting and Teaching Christian Scripture (3) 
  • (At least) one course in our Global Christian Heritage sequence (3) 
  • (At least) one course in our Theology and Ethics sequence (3)


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2023–24 Tuition and Fees

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per credit


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application fee

See additional fee details.
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11 credits

to complete

All tuition, fees, and other charges stated here are payable in U.S. dollars ($US).

In addition to direct instructional costs, Seattle Pacific Seminary graduate programs’ tuition covers academic and student support services. Other benefits include use of athletic facilities (e.g., gym, locker room, and fitness rooms), the SPU Library, and the Kingswood House.

Scholarships and financial aid

Scholarship and other financial aid is offered to newly admitted and continuing students of SPS. For eligibility requirements, download the SPS Scholarship application. To apply for a scholarship, you should complete the application prior to the March 31 deadline. Scholarships will be distributed evenly across the Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarters of the academic year for which a scholarship is awarded.

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Applying to Seattle Pacific Seminary 

Admission to Seattle Pacific Seminary is a two-way process of discernment. You, the applicant, must determine whether SPS offers the kind of theological education and spiritual formation appropriate to your vocational objectives. You do so by studying our promotional materials, by visiting campus (if possible), by talking with our faculty, staff, and students, by praying for God’s guidance, and by consulting with trusted spiritual advisors.

Conversely, the SPS Admissions Committee must determine whether you are spiritually and academically prepared to succeed in one of our programs. We do so by carefully and prayerfully studying your application materials and by assessing how your gifts, graces, and sense of vocation fit with the mission and ethos of the Seminary. We admit women and men who can demonstrate a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ, a commitment to the proclamation of the reign of God, an ability to succeed academically in master’s level work, and an emotional and spiritual readiness to undertake graduate theological study.

To be considered for admission into the Master of Divinity program, you must apply online. Find the help you need with the admissions process of the program of your choice through Graduate Admissions

If you are an international student, also refer to International Graduate Students information about additional admission requirements. 

The Seattle Pacific Seminary application

In addition to fulfilling general SPU graduate admissions requirements, you will provide these items specific to Seattle Pacific Seminary:

A typed three- to four-page personal statement, including:

  • Your career objectives.
  • A narrative of your personal Christian experience. In your personal statement, you may consider reflecting on those people (e.g., parents, pastors, friends, teachers), institutions (e.g., schools, congregations, ministries), and/or “mountaintop experiences” (e.g., retreats, conferences, life-changing conversations) that have most influenced your spiritual growth.
  • Your rationale for seeking the degree and choosing Seattle Pacific Seminary.
  • Other insights you deem appropriate.

Two letters of recommendation

We ask you to secure letters of recommendation from two persons, both of whom know you well, but in different capacities, and who can therefore speak to different aspects of your preparedness for the challenges of graduate theological education.

  1. Spiritual/emotional preparedness: This letter should be from a pastor, church staff person, chaplain, parachurch professional, youth leader, Bible study leader or college religion professor. It should describe the depth of your Christian faith, as evidenced by the way you live your life, serve your neighbors, and participate in the ministry of a Christian community (local congregation, parachurch organization, chapel program, etc.).
  2. Academic preparedness: This letter should be from a former college professor who knows your academic work well and can describe your intellectual curiosity and your skills in research, writing, critical thinking, problem-solving, and time management. If you cannot secure a letter from a former professor, a letter from an employer or manager who can address these matters will be accepted with approval from the Seminary Director, Ashley Skinner Creek (skinnera3@huangshangroup.com); in such cases, an interview may be required. You may request permission to submit an alternative letter of reference by emailing seminary@huangshangroup.com.

Transfer credits

If you wish to apply graduate-level coursework completed at a regionally accredited university or an ATS-accredited divinity school or seminary toward your MA in theology program, you must provide official transcript(s) and, in some cases, course syllabi. You may transfer up to 8 quarter credits from other graduate programs. To receive transfer credit:

  • Each course must be at least 3 graduate-quarter credits and be equivalent to courses taught in the Seattle Pacific Seminary.
  • Each course will be considered on a case-by-case basis as to the fulfillment of specific curricular requirements.
  • A minimum grade of B will be needed for transferred work.
  • All courses applied toward the graduate degree must be taken within seven years of admission.
  • In all cases, the final 8 certificate credits must be taken at SPU.

Application deadlines

Students can apply to Seattle Pacific Seminary to begin Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarters, and to begin during Summer Sessions, though most students choose to begin their program in Autumn Quarter.

  • Autumn Quarter: July 31
  • Winter Quarter: November 15
  • Spring Quarter: February 15
  • Summer Sessions: May 1

Non-degree students

You may take up to nine credits of graduate theology courses as a non-degree student, if you:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • Fill out a short application form with the Seattle Pacific Seminary office.
  • Receive permission from the dean or associate dean of the School of Theology.

Contact the Seattle Pacific Seminary at seminary@huangshangroup.com or 206-281-2342 for more information.

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Certificate Opportunities

Certificate Opportunities

The Graduate Certificate in Christian Studies (GCCS) is designed for laypeople. Through this program, you will develop the knowledge base, the skill set, and the multicultural sensitivities needed to understand the Christian faith and put it into practice in a hurting world.

Whether you intend to deepen your understanding of the Christian faith and reflect on issues of vocation and ministry, or you are considering entering full-time professional Christian service, the flexibility of the GCCS program will work well for you.

If you subsequently enroll in a Seminary degree program, credits you earn in the GCCS program are usually transferable.

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International Students

International students

In addition to the SPU general and Seminary’s additional admission requirements for the Graduate Certificate in Christian Studies, international students must also submit:

  • An official confidential affidavit of financial support covering the first year of intended enrollment. Without this document, SPU cannot issue an I-20 immigration form.
  • Students holding undergraduate or graduate degrees from colleges, universities and/or seminaries located outside the U.S. are expected to have their transcripts evaluated by a professional credential agency. Such an evaluation is required before an application for admission to SPS can be granted and before any graduate credits taken elsewhere can be applied to an SPS degree.
  • If you earned an undergraduate degree in a country other than the United States, or your degree is in progress, an official course-by-course credential evaluation must be submitted from a NACES member-recognized credential service. Acceptable credential services include, but are not limited to, World Education Services (WES) and Foundation for International Services (FIS).
  • In addition to the evaluation report, we also require official transcripts and diplomas to be submitted, in English. International applicants are responsible for all costs associated with this service.
  •  English language proficiency: If you do not speak English as your first language, you must also submit scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A minimum score of 600 on the TOFEL paper or 250 on the TOEFL-CBT, or 100 on the TOEFL-iBT is required. ACE scores will not be accepted.
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