University description (as per official university website)
Welcome to SFTS, your path to whole leadership. Imagine a seminary where you learn to seamlessly integrate spirituality, theology, and the practical arts of ministry…where each is as important as the other…where devotion, conviction, and action naturally blend together to form an integrated whole... where you learn to lead others towards wholeness as Christ led his disciples…where you have the reflective space to discern the unique shape of your own calling…where “your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” (Buechner) That’s what you’ll find at San Francisco Theological Seminary.
The need for leaders of faith and vision—who can help others to know, love, and serve the living God in an increasingly diverse world—has never been greater. At San Francisco Theological Seminary, we embrace this challenge, drawing on the limitless wellsprings of God’s own creativity, wisdom, and energy. As we embrace God’s vision of wholeness for the world, we prepare whole leaders for the whole church. Our Mission Statement says it directly: “We are committed to the education of students in spiritual formation, critical theological reflection, and the skills and arts of ministry, to serve in congregations, the wider church, the classroom, and the public sphere.”
Presbyterians in the Bay Area in the mid 19th century, determined to establish Presbyterian institutions of learning in the West, found a leader in pastor, preacher, and scholar, William Anderson Scott. Largely under his direction, two schools were started in the churches he served in San Francisco. The first was a Presbyterian college opened in 1861 in Calvary Church. The second, and more long lived, was San Francisco Theological Seminary. When in 1871 the Synod of the Pacific charged a newly appointed Board of Directors with "organizing a theological seminary such as the present wants and future interests of this coast demand," four professors and four students began meeting for instruction at the Presbyterian City College located in what now is Union Square. Six years later, the Seminary moved to its own building next to the City College building on Haight Street.
By the late 1880s, the Seminary was considering moving to a more commodious site, either in San Francisco or in proximity to one of the newly founded universities in the Bay Area. Eventually the Board of Directors was persuaded, chiefly by Arthur Crosby of First Presbyterian Church, San Rafael, to consider sites in salubrious Marin County, where the Seminary might serve as the "theological sanitarium of the Church."
In 1890, with Synod approval, the Board voted to accept the offer of a 14 acre hilltop site in San Anselmo from Arthur W Foster, Seminary trustee and son in law of Dr. Scott. Money for buildings to house students, faculty, and the well stocked library was donated by the pioneer financier and philanthropist Alexander Montgomery, whose benefactions to the Seminary were to total nearly half a million dollars. On September 21, 1892, with 1200 people in attendance, Montgomery and Scott Halls were dedicated and the San Anselmo campus was officially opened. The faculty now numbered six, and the student body about twenty.
A new charter issued in 1900 gave the Seminary power to grant degrees, and jurisdiction over the Seminary was transferred from the Synod to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in 1913. Enrollment increased, though not steadily, until in 1922, SFTS with 106 students, ranked third in size among Presbyterian seminaries. From early on this Presbyterian seminary in the West drew students from around the Pacific rim as well as from California and Oregon (six of the 106 were from Asia) and sent its graduates to missions abroad. Women constituted one third of the enrollment in 1922, mostly as special or mission course students. Ties with the academic community in Berkeley, advocated by the planners of the 1880s, were fostered by the establishment of a short lived extension program across the bay in 1921.
In the post World War II era, the Seminary under President Jesse Hays Baird enjoyed unprecedented expansion, with enrollment increasing to over 300 and new buildings rising all over the San Anselmo campus. In 1962, SFTS joined with neighboring theological schools in founding the Graduate Theological Union, a consortium based in Berkeley that provides an institutional framework for ecumenism. Formed for joint administration of academic doctoral degrees, the GTU consortium developed joint M.A. degrees as well and, briefly in the 70s, a common M.Div. curriculum.
Financial Aid Overview
San Francisco Theological Seminary provides some level of financial aid assistance to approximately 85 percent of our M.Div. and Graduate Theological Union MA students. Aid is offered to eligible half-time and full-time students, regardless of nationality or denomination, and in a manner that recognizes gifts for ministry as well as financial need. If you believe you will need financial aid to attend seminary, we strongly encourage you to apply for Fall admission as financial aid resources for new students are limited in the Spring.
At SFTS our Office of Student Services is committed to working with students toward a shared goal of making seminary affordable.
Presidential and Alumni Scholarships are awarded each year to new and returning students in the M.Div. program who demonstrate leadership in the Church and other forms of service, strong academic performance, and promise for ministry. Scholarships are renewable over the course of the student’s studies at SFTS.
The top students in each incoming class will be offered renewable Presidential Scholarships covering 100 percent tuition for their M.Div. career. In addition, up to three of these students may be offered a one-time $2,500 Exceptional Merit Scholarship to assist them in their transition to seminary life.
Several students in each class will also receive renewable Alumni Scholarships which cover on average 75 percent of tuition.
enrolled at least half-time
making satisfactory academic progress (continuing students)