DEGREE PROGRAMS: Master of Divinity & Master of Arts in Social Change

How long are the degree programs?
  • M.Div.: Most of our students work, have partners, families, and lead full lives. Most students average ~4 years.
  • MASC: ~2 years
Do I need to take the GRE?

No, not for any of our programs.

Can I pursue my degree completely online?

For years, we have been providing courses via a hybrid format, making it easy when the pandemic started. At the beginning of the pandemic, our accrediting body, The Association of Theological Schools, permanently waived residential requirements. While we are still considering how to approach this going forward (we love having people in physical community), you can currently get your entire degree online.

Where will I find work with a MASC degree?

You will be prepared to assume a professional role in institutions and organizations that work for progressive social change. The employment field includes non-profit organizations, social service agencies, political action organizations, administrative and leadership positions in denominational bodies and religious associations, church staffs, educational programs, health organizations, community centers, interfaith organizations, and research institutes.

Can I talk to students who have graduated from the MASC program?

Yes, email to make the request. In the interim, listen to an audio podcast below of two Starr King students discussing what excites them about the Master of Arts in Social Change degree program; what drew them to the academic community; and what they learned in the required course, Educating to Counter Oppressions to Create Just and Sustainable Communities.



Is it possible to take online classes that transfer to the degree program and, if so, is there a limit to the number of classes/credits permitted?

Yes. The option to study online before matriculating gives you a chance to experience our courses and our institution, as we support your discernment of both path and call. Should you be accepted into Starr King’s degree programs, credits taken at Starr King within the previous seven years, will transfer towards the completion of your MDiv and/or the MASC degrees. 

Whom should I contact about the particulars of taking online courses?

Hugo Cordova Quero, Director of Online Education, .

What technology requirements must my computer meet to take online classes?
  1. Regular access to a computer with internet capabilities; a webcam; microphone, and audio abilities;
  2. Up-to-date internet browser, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox;
  3. Latest version of the free Adobe Acrobat Reader; and
  4. An audio/video player (some courses incorporate audio or video and most computers come with players. They also can be downloaded for free from WindowsApple, and elsewhere. See SKSM Online Education Technical Support for more information.
When are online class times scheduled?

Most online class discussions happen in discussion boards where class participants engage each other through chat correspondence. These are asynchronous and you discuss readings and course content according to your own schedule within the scheduling of the weeks. Live time (synchronous), however, is encouraged. Zoom is utilized as our synchronous learning platform.

Honestly, can I get grounding in theological and ministerial study without physically being in a community of fellow seminarians?

Yes, you can, through low residency student cohort groups, chapel, the all-school symposium, and other forms of connection throughout the year.

Student Cohort Groups: the Director of Spiritual care provides leadership and guidance to ensure group check-ins, reflection, and community accountability in geographic locations where low-residency students reside. Cohort group members communicate regularly through various mediums and meet at the annual symposium.

Symposium: a gathering of the whole learning community, meaning interns return, faculty and staff who work in low residency modes would return, and, of course, low residency students return.  Symposium is scheduled to take place annually (see Academic Calendar for dates).

This short video best explains the varied ways we teach, you learn, and how we form community:

What kinds of low-residency courses are available?

Distance learning includes online courses (both synchronous and asynchronous) and fieldwork, in the form of internships, chaplaincy residences, and other community-based placements. Currently, all of our courses are offered in modes that allow for distance learning.

If I want to complete my low residency courses online within three years for the MDiv, what would that path look like?

About 20 graduate level full-semester online courses over a 36 month period, depending on the number of credits offered for each course.

Is the building accessible to persons in wheelchairs and on scooters?

Yes. 414 13th St, Oakland is very accessible. The building has an elevator for easy accessibility and the rooms are large enough to provide spacious room for mobility. Learn more about our accessibility.

What kinds of high residency courses are available?

High-residence courses can be semester-long during the Fall and Spring, week-long intensives during January, week-long intensives during August, day-long Saturday intensives, as well as domestic and international immersion learning opportunities that range from four days to two weeks. However, we are currently rethinking the ways in which we do these, as we acclimate to the COVID-normalized world.

What are some ways I could meet my residential course requirement?

Because our accrediting body, The Association of Theological Schools (ATS), has permanently waived residential requirements, we no longer have a residential requirement.

What is immersion learning?

In-depth learning that takes place in the physical context of a congregational or community internship, a chaplaincy/clinical pastoral education program (CPE), or travel to a geographical social/culture/religious location.


What is a Special Student?

This is the official student status for community members who take courses at Starr King, but who are not matriculating as a degree-seeking student.

Is it possible to register for a class, as a Special Student, before the registration period is open?

You can complete the Special Student Registration form, however, spots in courses are generally saved for matriculated students first. You will be registered for the course once the registration period is open. Space in a class is not guaranteed.

How much is one 3-unit course?

$2625 per course ($875 per credit).

I am thinking of applying for a degree program, but don’t know if seminary is for me. Can I take one class?

Yes. The option to study before matriculating as a degree candidate gives you a chance to experience a course and our institution. You may register as a Special Student, the official designation for non-matriculating students. Most, but not all courses, are offered to Special Students (specifically those which have pre-requisite requirements). View course descriptions to select courses by type (online, immersion, or intensive).

Get more registration information.

Will the classes I take as a Special Student count towards my degree?

Credit earned at any SKSM within the past 7 years will apply towards your degree.

May I audit (sit in on a class for the duration of its run, without fully participating in the form of homework, projects, etc.) a class?

We do not allow auditors because we value the full contribution and participation of all course attendees.


What will the Certificate in UU Studies do for me?

Our certificates are used for the following purposes:

  1. to supplement the education of UUs studying at non-UU seminaries who wish to be fellowshipped by the UUA;
  2. to try out the seminary experience, while considering degree programs;
  3. to provide continuing education to those who already have MDivs from non-UU seminaries;
  4. to bolster the professional experience of lay leadership already working in religious environments;
  5. and to enhance the job-readiness of those with second-career and other vocational aspirations.
What are the required courses for the UU Studies Certificate?

There are no required courses that make up the UU certificate program. You can select courses with a specifically UU theme.  Program Director Rev. Dr. Meg Richardson is also willing to make suggestions.


Who sets up tours of the facility or a one-time class visit?

Contact us at admissions@sksm.edu to arrange a tour or class visit.

What is the best time to visit the school?

We are happy to meet you around your schedule. 


What is financial aid?
  1. Gift aid, which includes grants, scholarships, and stipends that do not have to be paid back and
  2. Self-help aid, loans, such as Stafford unsubsidized loans, which must be paid back. Work study is money earned from employment on campus or in non-profit organizations.
Am I eligible for financial aid?

U.S. citizen or permanent resident students can apply for financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and your school’s supplemental application.

Starr King annually provides Institutional Tuition Scholarship Awards to assist students with the cost of tuition. Starr King institutional tuition scholarships are awarded through an internal process by the SKSM Scholarship Committee. The Scholarship Committee considers the financial need of each applicant as well as the school’s commitment to educating to counter oppressions and our desire to manifest a just, multiracial, multicultural learning community. The application deadline is April 1. Get a head start by filling out a FAFSA form online at www.fafsa.gov

What kind of financial aid is available?

Learn more about Financial Aid & Scholarships available at Starr King here.

Unitarian Universalist Association: If you are considering ordination in the Unitarian Universalist denomination, visit www.uua.org/careers/ministers/becoming/scholarships for scholarship information.

Your Denomination: The denomination of your faith-based organization may be a funding source. Inquire directly.

Do I have to apply for financial aid every year?

Yes. Visit the financial aid page on Starr King’s website directly for deadlines and guidance.

I may not be able to meet the financial aid deadline. Will this affect my aid?

Yes, this will affect your aid. Both the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and the Starr King’s Institutional Scholarship form must be received by their respective deadlines. No applications for scholarships will be accepted after the deadline.

I made a lot of money last year. Should I still apply for financial aid?

Yes, you never know what you may qualify for if you don’t apply. You may at least be considered eligible for the Stafford unsubsidized loan to help cover your educational expenses. FAFSA data is based on a two-years prior tax filing.

What is the unsubsidized Stafford loan?

The unsubsidized Stafford Loan is a federal loan not awarded based on financial need. Unsubsidized means you are charged interest from loan disbursement until it is paid in full. You can pay this interest while matriculating and during grace and deferment periods, or you can allow it to accumulate.

Am I eligible for this loan?

Yes, most students that are at least part-time students are eligible. At Starr King, 6 to 8 credit hours taken in a given semester is considered a part-time status.

How much Stafford loan may I borrow?

Up to $20,500 each academic year for the unsubsidized Stafford loan.


I am older and I hesitate to apply. Does it make sense for me to pursue this life-long calling at my age?

Of course it does and congratulations! Our students well-represent all decades of adulthood.  We have graduated octogenarians and currently have degree candidates in their 50s and 60s (and beyond), as well as a healthy dose of those in their 20s and 30s. Check out our Community Life page to see what you have in common with our students.

What advice do you have for someone beginning the process of discernment?

Read everything you can about the academic programs you are considering, talk to current students, and talk to practicing ministers, as well as MDiv and MASC graduates who choose to use their MDivs outside of a congregational setting (or those that are already in the field of work that you aspire to be in).


Are international student visas arranged by the school or are the students responsible for that?

Upon admittance, we work with you to secure your F-1 visa. You are responsible for paying the I-901 fee.

Do you accept transfer students?

Yes, from accredited graduate degree programs that have taught similar coursework or skills. Prior to admittance, you may petition to have your credits assessed for transferability or shared credit. Regardless of how many transfer credits are accepted, you must complete a minimum of half of your study at Starr King (at least 45 of the 90 credit MDiv or 24 of the 48 credit MASC).

Can I receive credit for previous related life experience and education?

Previous life experience and education are highly valued and taken into consideration during the admissions process.  On average, one-third to one-fourth of each entering class possesses at least one master’s degree and many more have significant public interest/public service experience; your scholastic and vocational achievements will enhance your experience here and make your presence a welcomed addition to the school. Academic credit for prior degrees earned can be assessed for shared credit (similar to transfer, but used for those that have already earned the degree). Academic credit for life experiences that take place during the course of your degree program matriculation at Starr King, in the form of independent study, special reading courses, and write-ups, is available. Additionally, for some students, we can also evaluate life experiences for Advanced Standing. For more information, please email .

Do you consider applicants without bachelor degrees?

With or without an undergraduate degree, we examine the totality of your academic, professional, and spiritual experiences, as demonstrated by your application. Additionally, you must demonstrate your ability to do graduate level work and be open to transformation.


How are the degree programs structured?

There are three required courses and eight thresholds.

What are the required courses?

ECO Core Intensive: Educating to Create Just and Sustainable Communities that Counter Oppressions, Multi-Religious Core Intensive, and a Leadership course: either Leadership Along the Way or Unitarian Universalist Ministerial Leadership. The earlier in the program you meet these requirements, the better. They are foundational for understanding our approach to theological education.

What are the eight thresholds?

You must achieve competency in eight areas: pastor, prophet, preacher, scholar, counselor thea/ologian, teacher, artist. Please take into account your past education, life experiences, and your Starr King education when examining these thresholds. Learn more about the Thresholds.

Is the focus on Unitarian Universalist doctrine or is it possible to tailor the program to meet more of my interest/needs?

Our educational philosophy is multi-religious. This pedagogy is inspired by Unitarian Universalist values. Student agency is a critical component of our educational philosophy. In collaboration with your advisor, you choose from the full menu of courses to determine what best meets the required academic thresholds, as well as your professional and spiritual needs.


I am a Starr King grad. How much does a course cost?

SKSM tuition is $875 per credit.


What is a chaplain?

A clergyperson or lay person who provides pastoral services to a secular institution for the purpose of practicing within that institution.

What is chaplaincy?

Theological education occurring in clinical settings where ministry is being practiced, including hospitals, veterans’ facilities, hospices, psychiatric and community care facilities, workplaces, geriatric and rehabilitation centers, universities, congregational settings, and more. The general activity performed by a chaplain includes crisis ministry, counseling, ritual, worship, education, help in ethical decision-making, staff support, clergy contact and community or religious institution coordination. The field of chaplaincy has been growing widely in the past few years.


How large is your student body?

There are approximately 105 students enrolled in the school. On average, 15-20 degree candidates begin their program with us each Fall, with about 10-15 starting each Spring.