New Students

As a learning community of faith we offer a number of opportunities and environments where your participation is desired and needed. We worship together. We pray together. We learn from one another. We have been praying for you and looking forward to your joining our hospitable community of faith and learning. Our mission is to be “a learning community in the Reformed Christian tradition that forms church leaders who cultivate communities of disciples of Jesus Christ.” For 145 years, we have formed and prepared students to serve the church around the world as the church serves the mission of God.

Calvin Seminary receives students from over 20 countries, who bring cultural and ethnic diversity that energizes classroom discussion and enriches community life. Through a number of opportunities, we learn what God is doing around the world. We have witnessed the formation of friendships that bridge cultural barriers that last a lifetime.The seminary community worships in a variety of ways through student groups, community chapel services, and early morning prayer times. Whether you are a student in residence in Grand Rapids,  a distance-hybrid student, or fully online, we encourage you to find a rhythm of worship and participation in the Calvin Seminary community.

You will find study at Calvin Seminary rewarding and enriching, but it may also be at times stressful and challenging. You may find it hard to balance responsibilities at home, school, church, and work as you find a rhythm of life. Please know that you have a Christian community here ready to support you and pray with you. Your fellow students, professors, staff members and, if you participate in the vocational formation program, the group members, leader and your vocational mentor are all here to encourage you and provide support for you. Again, we are delighted to welcome you to Calvin Seminary and to walk alongside you in this new stage of your Christian journey. We pray that God will bless you here, and through you bless others!

In His Service With You,
Rev. Jul Medenblik
President of Calvin Theological Seminary

Key Information for New Students

Important Dates

2020 – 2021 Academic Calendar

Gateway (New Student Orientation)

Gateway is an orientation program, typically hosted in late-August, for all first-year, residential students.  The purpose of Gateway is to help new students to make connections with each other and the Calvin Seminary community, to become familiar with the logistics of their program and the Calvin Seminary building, and to begin their academic work.

Academic Work:  The Gateway schedule will be different for students in each program, with first-level Master students (MA, MDiv, and MTS) partaking in course work during the Gateway week – a hermeneutics course called “Biblical Interpretation for Ministry”.  There may be assignments for students for students to complete prior to the beginning of Gateway.  Be sure to be checking your Calvin Seminary email account for information on course work. 

Distance Learning Students: Distance Learning students have an online course called Gateway and aren’t required to be on-campus in August for Gateway.  As a new Distance Learning student, your first on-campus component will be the Distance Learning Intensive.  For Spring Semester starts, your first intensive begins a day early, on March 1, 2020.  You will receive more detailed instruction for the Distance Learning office.

Spring Semester Starts:  For residential students starting coursework at Calvin Seminary at the beginning of the Spring Semester, there will be a one day orientation held at the end of January each year.  This orientation will help you get acquainted with key people, the seminary schedule and the seminary building in order to help you start strong. Students starting in spring are also required to attend Gateway, which is held in August each year.

Registering for Courses

All incoming students will be registered for their first-semester of courses by the registrar, Joan Beelen.  Students enrolled by June 1 will receive their course information no later than July 1, with students enrolling after June 1 receiving their information on a rolling basis.  Spring and Summer Students will receive their schedules on a rolling basis as well.  

Registrar Office information can be accessed here.

International Student Information

Applying for a Visa: Residential and Distance-Learning students coming from a country outside the United States will need to apply for a F-1 or J-1 visa.  Our Associate Dean of Students and International Student Adviser, Sarah Chun, will assist you through this process.  For more information on applying for visas, visit the International Student page.

International Student Orientation:  Required for all incoming residential students coming from outside of North America, this orientation will assist students and their families as they become acquainted to life at Calvin Seminary and in the United States.  After International Student Orientation, all residential students will be asked to attend Gateway (see information above).

Distance-Learning Student Information

Unlike residential students, incoming Distance-Learning students can begin their course work, including your Gateway course, as early as June.  For information on how to sign on to Canvas and begin exploring the course, visit the New Distance Learning Student page.  This page will also have other helpful information specific to incoming Distance-Learning students.


For residential students, Calvin Seminary has a variety of housing options that are both convenient and affordable.  Options include housing for single students, married couples, and families.  Incoming students must apply for housing at the housing webpage.  Requests for a move-in date earlier than August 15 will be considered but not guaranteed.  You will receive communication from the housing office regarding an exact move in date.   Please verify your apartment availability before arranging travel plans.

Spring Semester students can inquire with the Housing Office about housing availability, though housing cannot be guaranteed.

Advanced Standing Tests, Preparing for Coursework, and Tech

Advanced Standing Tests: Students entering the Master of Arts, Master of Divinity, or Master of Theological Studies programs will have the option of pursuing advanced standing in their degree program by taking Advanced Standing Tests.  Information on these tests, including what test options are available for each program and how to study, are available on the Advanced Standing Tests page.

Helpful Reading to Prepare you for Seminary:  Choosing to attend seminary is a significant decision.  Often incoming students will wonder how to best prepare themselves for studies that grapple with biblical and theological truths, as well as personal exploration, calling, and spirituality.  Most of the time, students find themselves on a continuum, a journey you have been on for a while now.  This personal exploration was most likely nurtured and challenged by a church community, a small group, mentors or friends.  We here at Calvin Seminary are excited to join this journey.  In this spirit, we offer this modest book list to consider working through in the months leading up to your time here at Calvin Seminary.  While this list is not required, we encourage you to intentionally ready your mind and heart for your upcoming studies.

Canvas: Once you’re registered for courses, you’ll have access to syllabi through Canvas, our online learning management system.

Digital Bible Tools: All MDiv and MTS students will utilize digital Bible tools to aid in learning Greek and Hebrew, but no particular software program is required. MA students will take a course on Digital Bible Tools as part of their program.  More detailed instructions and expectations for digital resources will be discussed during Gateway.

Email:  All new students are issued a Calvin Seminary Email address when they begin the admissions process.  For information on that account, look for your Welcome Letter, sent to the email address you provided on your admissions application.  If you have any questions, feel free to email the admissions office at