International Students: Frequently Asked Questions

About Seattle Pacific

What are SPU’s most popular majors?

Find SPU’s 10 most popular majors listed on the SPU Facts page. On that page you’ll also find information about average class size, number of academic programs, ethnic diversity, and more.

How many international students attend SPU?

SPU has a small but active international population — currently approximately about 180 undergraduate students and 60 graduate students. Our international students represent about 45 different countries.

I’m not Christian. Would SPU still be a good choice for me?

SPU does not require that students be Christian. Students of all faith backgrounds (and no faith background) are welcome here! However, we want to be sure that you are aware that this is a Christian university, and that is a central part of who we are as a community.

Your teachers are likely to approach their disciplines within a Christian framework and from a Christian perspective, and it is important that you are comfortable with that and with living within a Christian environment. 

There is certainly not any expectation that you become Christian yourself — you are absolutely welcome here as a person of another faith, or of no particular faith.

But we will ask you to take up to three Foundations classes in Christianity during your time at SPU and to be prepared to have open discussions about questions and issues of faith, both in and outside the classroom.

Applying for Admission as an International Student

Can I begin at Seattle Pacific during any academic quarter?

International applicants are welcome to apply for admission to begin at SPU in Autumn, Winter, or Spring quarters. We do not admit new international students in the summer. 

What makes a good essay?

Your essay will help the Admissions Committee better understand you. Your essay should be well-written, 300 words or more, and will inform the committee of the experiences you have had and what you hope to accomplish at Seattle Pacific University and beyond.

It is important that the essays be written by you, without editing assistance from others. We do not expect non-native speakers’ writing to be “perfect” and free of grammatical errors. But we do encourage you to proof read your essay and submit the best example of your writing.  

What do you consider when you read my application for admission?

  • We look at your GPA and test scores, and then we consider the kind of classes you took; if your grades are improving, declining, or are consistent.
  • We read any recommendation letters (not required) that you may have chosen to submit.
  • We look at your activities to see what you are doing with your time.
  • We consider how you will “fit” at SPU (i.e., why you are interested in joining this community, and what unique gifts you will bring).

All this information gives us a picture of who you are as a unique individual, and whether you are prepared for Seattle Pacific University. Be sure to fill out the application completely. Answer every question, and give us as much information as possible about yourself. This is not the time to be shy. It is OK —  in fact, it is good — to brag about yourself and your accomplishments!

When will I receive an admission decision?

  • If you are a first year applicant and complete your file by the Early Action deadline (November 1), you should hear in January.
  • If you apply for regular admission, you will likely hear in March.
  • If you are a transfer applicant, you can expect to hear from us within four weeks of completing your application.

If you have any questions about your application, feel free to contact Undergraduate Admissions or the international admissions counselor directly.

Should I have an interview?

If there are unique circumstances in your background that are not evident in your application, an interview can be a good way to bring them to our attention. If you live far away and cannot visit campus, you can schedule an interview over Zoom with your admissions counselor.

What if I am denied admission to SPU?

Denying students is difficult. But we want the best for every student and that sometimes means saying no. Some students who have been denied admission really still want to be at SPU, and we recommend that they complete a minimum of 30 transferable college-level quarter credits at another school and then contact us to have us re-evaluate their application. Other students attend another school on their list and graduate from that school. In either case, we hope that you stay motivated to complete a university degree.

Should I take the SAT or the ACT?

International students are not required to submit scores from the SAT or ACT.  However, first year applicants, particularly native English speakers, are encouraged to submit SAT/ACT scores, as they can enhance their application. 

If you choose to take one of these achievement tests, we recommend that you sit for the test at least two times (two SATs, two ACTs, or one of each).  We will consider only your top score.

I am a native speaker of English. Do I still need to send an English proficiency test score?

No. Native English speakers do not need to show English proficiency. SPU considers an international student to be a “native English speaker” if both their primary and secondary education took place in Australia, Canada (other than Quebec), Great Britain, Ireland, New Zealand, or the U.S. (other than Puerto Rico).

SPU does not require international students to submit SAT or ACT test scores. However, first year applicants who are native English speakers are strongly encouraged to take the SAT or ACT and submit official scores, as these scores provide us with additional evidence of your academic ability and achievement.

Do I need to show English proficiency?

Yes, if English is not your first language. For complete information about proficiency requirements, read the international student application process.

Can I still be considered for admission if I do not meet the English proficiency requirement?

We cannot consider you for full admission to SPU if you do not meet our minimum English proficiency standards. We would be glad to consider you for conditional admission to the university, pending future satisfaction of this requirement. However, we cannot issue an I-20 to conditionally admitted students.


Are tuition costs higher for international students?

No. As a private comprehensive university, Seattle Pacific University offers the same tuition rates to in-state, out-of-state, and international students. 

Does SPU offer a “full ride” scholarship?

No. SPU does not offer any financial support that will cover 100% of a student's educational costs. Our merit scholarships are generous and in some cases will cover a significant percentage of a student’s annual tuition. But we are not able to provide scholarships that will provide full financial support.

Do I need to send financial documents as part of my application?

No. We do not require financial documentation as part of your application for admission. However, if you are offered admission to SPU, we will then ask for proof of financial resources.

The U.S. Department of State requires that international students show evidence of sufficient funds to cover the estimated total cost of their educational and living expenses for one year. We cannot issue an I-20 until we have received that financial documentation.

What scholarships are available for international students?

International students are eligible for most of the merit scholarships listed on our website.

There are no deadlines for the majority of these scholarships, as students do not need to submit a separate application for most of them (unless noted in the description of the scholarship). As long as you apply by the regular admission deadline, you will meet the deadline for scholarship consideration.

We consider all admitted students for these scholarships at the time they are admitted to the University and award them to any students who fit the qualifications.

A few special scholarships do require a separate application — the Fine Arts Scholarships, for example.

There are a few scholarships for which international students are not eligible, but those are scholarships funded by state or federal money. In the descriptions of those types of scholarships, it states that student recipients must be citizens or eligible permanent residents of the U.S. to be considered.

Please note that SPU does not offer need-based financial aid to international students. We also do not offer scholarships that will cover 100% of a student's tuition.

Transfer Students

I have taken English 101 at my college. Do I still need to send an English proficiency test score?

We will waive the English proficiency test score requirement for transfer applicants who fulfill all of the following criteria:

  1. Have an overall transfer GPA of 3.0/”B” or higher;
  2. Have completed English composition I and II with grades of 3.0/”B” or higher in each class;
  3. Will have completed the AA degree or two years of college-level study prior to transferring.

We will also waive the test requirement for post-bac applicants who have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited/recognized college or university in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, or Ireland.

Read the frequently asked questions for transfer students.