Seattle Pacific Seminary

Graduate Certificate in Christian Studies (GCCS)

Defining Theological Education Through Academy, Abbey, and Apostolate

The Graduate Certificate in Christian Studies program equips you with an understanding of Christian formation and vocation, and the practices that nurture an ongoing life of discipleship and mission in the 21st century. As you pursue the GCCS, you will be challenged to apply this understanding personally through reflection and discernment both in the classroom and in the community.

At a Glance

  • check mark icon Upcoming Application Deadline 7/31/2024 for Autumn Quarter
  • check mark icon Accreditation

    Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS)

  • check mark icon Minimum Time to Completion One year full time, or over several years of part-time study
  • check mark icon Format

    On campus, with weeklong intensive at Camp Casey on Whidbey Island

  • check mark icon Credits to Graduate 25 minimum

Program Overview


The GCCS program is designed for lay people, and enables 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 25 credits in one year of full-time study or over several years of part-time study.
  • You can also select from a wide variety of courses. 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.
  • If you subsequently enroll in a Seminary degree program, credits you earn in the GCCS program are usually transferable.
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To earn a Graduate Certificate in Christian Studies, you must be accepted into the program and complete 25 credits as laid out below.

Required courses

Certificate students are required to take the following three courses (7 credits total):

  • THEO 6001 Christian Formation in Discipleship: Acts of Piety (2)
  • THEO 6002 Christian Formation in Mission: Acts of Mercy and Justice (2)
  • THEO 6720 Vocational Discernment and Discipleship (3)

Recommended courses

Certificate students are strongly encouraged to take at least one course in each of the three three-course “academic core” sequences (Bible, Global Christian Heritage, and Theology/Ethics), and also three credits of Graduate Core Practicum (12 credits total):

Bible (3)

  • THEO 6010 Bible 1: Interpreting and Teaching Christian Scripture” (prerequisite for THEO 6040, THEO 6070, and all post-core Bible classes.)
  • THEO 6040 Bible 2: Introduction to Old Testament
  • THEO 6070 Bible 3: Introduction to New Testament

Global Christian Heritage (GCH) (3 credits)

  • THEO 6020 Global Christian Heritage 1: AD 100–AD 1500
  • THEO 6050 Global Christian Heritage 2: AD 1500–AD 1900
  • THEO 6080 Global Christian Heritage 3: AD 1900–present

Theology/Ethics (T/E) (3 credits)

  • THEO 6030 Theology/Ethics 1: Doctrine of God and Environmental Stewardship
  • THEO 6060 Theology/Ethics 2: Doctrine of Christ and Holistic Discipleship
  • THEO 6090 Theology/Ethics 3: Doctrine of the Holy Spirit and the Global Church

Graduate Core Practicum (3 credits)

  • THEO 6930 Graduate Core Practicum (3)

The remaining six credits of your program can be used toward post-core graduate THEO electives.

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2019–20 Tuition and Fees

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per credit

$14,200 minimum
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$50; $100

application fee; one-time matriculation fee

See additional fee details.
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25 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’s Master of Divinity 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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Application Info

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. 

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

(Forms are downloadable from the application page or available from Graduate Admissions.)

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's Academic Dean (; in such cases, an interview may be required. You may request permission to submit an alternative letter of reference by emailing

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 27 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 27 MA in Theology 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 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 Master of Divinity, 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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