International Students

A Guide for International Students Seeking to Study at St. Stephen's College, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Welcome and warm greetings to you! This resource is intended to provide introductory information about the steps you need to take when applying to study at St. Stephen's College (SSC) in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. There are a number of graduate-level Designated Learning Programs eligible to receive international students:

Department of Psychotherapy and Spirituality

  • Master of Psychotherapy and Spirituality Degree [Art Therapy Specialization option available]
  • Post-Master's Art Therapy Diploma
  • Graduate Certificate in Spiritually-Informed Creative Arts
  • Graduate Certificate in Spiritually-Informed Psychotherapy

Department of Theology

  • Doctor of Ministry [Supervisory Education Specialization option available]
  • Master of Theological Studies Degree [Specializations: 1. Faith and Culture, 2. Spiritual Care, or 3. Contemplation, the Arts, and Social Engagement]
  • Graduate Certificate in Theological Studies
  • Graduate Certificate in Spiritual Care
  • Graduate Certificate in Spiritual Direction

Our website offers details about each of these programs including academic requirements, admission requirements, and downloadable application materials.

It is the responsibility of all prospective international students to familiarize themselves with the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website; with regard to information about timeline and time limits to studying in Canada. SSC will enroll only those international students who have study permits issued by IRCC for Designated Learning Programs. The Designated Learning Institution (DLI) number for St. Stephen's College is O19391057115. Study permit applicants will need to record this DLI number on their study permit applications. International students will need to show proof of a valid study permit upon arrival at SSC. Some programs also require that a clear Criminal Records Check be provided.

Since most international students applying to study in Canada expect to stay in this country for several months, or even several years, information provided here seeks to answer frequently asked questions pertaining to our College, the City of Edmonton, and the Province of Alberta.

As an international student applicant it is important for you to allow adequate time in your application planning for;

  • Completing our review and screening process,
  • Securing a study permit if you are admitted,
  • Locating housing if needed, and
  • Acclimating to the local setting.



Carefully read both the Frequently Asked Questions document below, and the Program Application requirements detailed on the website.
Make special note of the tuition question.
When you become interested in the program.
Send a completed application for the program of your choice to St. Stephen's College. Deadline is November 1 each year for degree programs; there is no deadline for certificate programs. All supporting documents are due on the application deadline date.
A file is opened in your name so that additional information can be added (e.g. transcripts, letters of reference). After application form and fee received. Application fee: $400CDN for degrees, $200CDN for graduate certificates.
When your application file is complete it will be reviewed by the Chair of the program to which you are applying. Within one month of complete application being received.
If it is determined that a screening interview is to occur (for degree/diploma applicants) you will be notified, given information about how the interview can occur (telephone/video conference), and be part of negotiating a time for this interview. Be aware that:
a. Time differences between Canada and your home country will need to be factored into negotiating the timing of the interview.
b. It is recommended that telephone calls be made from a landline if possible since cell phone reception is often unreliable.
c. All costs associated with the interview (telephone or video conference) will be the responsibility of the applicant.
Within two months of complete application being received.
Following the screening interview (for degree/diploma applicants), you will receive a letter from the Dean about whether or not you are offered admission to the program. Within one month of screening interview.
If you are selected, you will receive a "Letter of Acceptance" that includes details and expectations associated to your participation in your chosen program. Within the letter will be a condition of acceptance indicating that you must:
(a) provide the College with a copy of valid Canadian Study Permit documentation for your study period, (b) formally accept the offer of admission to the program, and (c) submit a Criminal Records Check (sometimes called a Police Certificate) from your home country.
Within one month of screening interview.
It is expected that you will attend the Orientation Day scheduled in the year of your admission. NOTE: If you are travelling to Edmonton and travel restrictions are in effect, you will be required to follow Government of Canada requirements (see FAQ). Early June.

Frequently Asked Questions

St Stephens College History and Degree-Granting Authority

St. Stephen's College is a graduate school founded by The United Church of Canada and an Affiliated College of the University of Alberta in Edmonton. An Act to Incorporate St. Stephen's College (April 27, 1927; amended 1968) authorizes St. Stephen's College to confer degrees in theology. The College also teaches undergraduate and graduate University of Alberta credit courses, through the Faculty of Arts. St. Stephen's College is an Associate Member of The Association of Theological Schools in The United States and Canada, and is actively working toward full membership and accreditation with ATS.

The Government of Alberta Ministry of Advanced Education licenses and certifies private post-secondary institutions. As a divinity school, St. Stephen's College is categorized as a private post-secondary institution. Institutions which fall under this category are listed here. This list includes other divinity/theological schools/colleges in Alberta.

Campus Alberta Quality Council does not approve degrees in divinity.

Information on College governance, including a copy of the Act, can be found on the College website here.

Students intending to use St. Stephen's College degrees towards further higher education or for registration with professional counselling or other associations, in or outside of Canada, should be aware of the requirements of the institution, association or country they wish to apply that education toward. A number of theological colleges throughout Canada accept transfer credits from St. Stephen's College; however, public universities will most likely not accept transfer credits from a divinity school. Students planning to transfer to other institutions should be aware of the specific program requirements at that institution.

Where do I get an application form for a degree program at St Stephens College

Go to our Programs page for more information. Details about program requirements, and application forms, can be downloaded.

Is there an application fee

Yes, there is a non-refundable application fee, due with submission of your application. The application fee for a degree or post-master's diploma is $400CDN; the application fee for graduate certificates is $200CDN.

How much is tuition

The cost to complete a Degree, Diploma or Certificate Program (including Program Fees and Course Fees) will range from $7,000 to $52,000 (CDN) depending on the program. Please see our Tuition page for more information on the costs for the program you are applying for.

Reading material costs also need to be considered when planning the program, and may be up to $200CDN per course. Financial Policies are detailed in the Academic Calendar. Students are responsible for their own accommodation arrangements, and living costs.

Does the College offer financial assistance to students

St. Stephen's College offers bursaries and scholarships to students enrolled in St. Stephen's College degree programs to help defray the cost of studies (amounts range from $150CDN to $600CDN; less than one course fee). Bursaries are granted based on financial need and the terms of the bursary. Scholarships are awarded according to the terms of the scholarship. Financial aid will be granted according to the following priorities: (1) Canadian students, (2) International Students. Contact the College for details. As an International student, you will need to demonstrate adequate financial resources for your stay in Canada as a student.

How early do I need to apply to study at St Stephens College

The annual application deadline to degree/diploma programs at the College is November 1 for international students planning to attend the intake the following June; there is no application deadline for certificate programs. The normal timeline for processing international applications is as follows:

  1. Your application is processed within one month of receiving all application documents and application fee.
  2. College contacts you either to schedule a screening interview (degree/diploma applicants) if your application is acceptable, or to tell you that you are not being invited to an interview.
  3. College contacts you with results of your application, within one month of the interview, and provides a letter of acceptance if the decision is made to invite you into the program.
  4. You accept the offer of admission in writing.
  5. You apply for a study permit through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Can I complete a degree, diploma or certificate program via Distance Learning from outside Canada

All degree, diploma and certificate programs at St. Stephen’s College require in-person attendance at week-long intensive courses in Canada; with limited exceptions, physical presence in Edmonton is required. Residency in Canada is required for all Practicum, CPE, and other Field Placement courses. 

Do I need to have a Study Permit
Yes. International students are required to show proof of a valid study permit issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) upon arrival at St. Stephen’s College. It is possible for international students to study in Canada without a study permit if a program can be completed in less than six months; however, program completion times for Designated Learning Programs at St. Stephen’s College are between 1-4 years.
Can I take an individual course (Open Studies) if I’m not enrolled in a Degree, Diploma or Certificate program
No. St. Stephen's College will enroll only those international students who have study permits issued by IRCC for Designated Learning Programs. The Open Studies program is for students taking courses without being enrolled in a degree/certificate program; however, the Open Studies program is not designated to enroll international students.
Do I need to provide an English proficiency score

Students must be able to express themselves verbally and in both reflective as well as scholarly writing. Possessing an adequate English vocabulary to communicate within both learning and clinical practicum/field placement contexts is essential. English Proficiency is demonstrated by:

  • Possession of a degree or its academic equivalent from an institution recognized by Stephen's College where the language of instruction is English. Proof that the instruction for the degree was in English will be required; OR
  • Demonstration of sufficient English language coursework at the secondary school level from select countries (eg. Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland); OR
  • A satisfactory score on one of the following approved English language examinations:
    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT, in-person or special home edition): total score of 90 with no less than 21 on each of the individual skill areas (internet-based) [SSC TOEFL Code: B640]
    • Academic International English Language Testing System (IELTS): minimum overall band score of 6.5, with at least 6 on each test band
    • Canadian Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL or CAEL Online): overall minimum score of 70, with at least 60 on each subtest
    • Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic): overall minimum score of 61; with a minimum band score of 60
    • If you are in a region impacted by Pearson, IELTS, or TOEFL test centre closures due to COVID-19, the Duolingo English Test will be accepted until February 2024 admission, with a minimum test score of 125 for Spoken English Proficiency, and no subscore below 105.

If you need to complete one of these English language examinations, you should do so as soon as possible and arrange for the results to be sent to the Registrar’s Office at St. Stephen’s College. English Language test scores more than two years old cannot be verified. If an applicant's test score is more than two years old, they will be required to re-take the test.

Where do I find the requisite visa information needed to enter Canada

Information can be found on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website ("Study" link). Explore this site carefully and thoroughly so that specifics to your country and immigration circumstances are understood. Once the College issues you a letter of acceptance it is your responsibility to apply for and secure the requisite study permit. Find out if you need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) or a visitor visa. Apply for an eTA before you book your flight to Canada.

Where do I find a Canadian visa office in my home country

A list of countries and corresponding Canadian visa offices can be found on the International Visa Offices website.

Do I wait until I have a study permit before getting a Criminal Records Check-Police Certificate

A clear Criminal Record Check is required prior to beginning practicum requirements in the MPS, MTS and PMATD programs at the College. While everything hinges on the study permit, it is usually a good idea to know how to secure your Criminal Records Check/Police Certificate and what amount of time it takes for a police document to be issued.

How far in advance must I return my response to the Letter of Acceptance

International students need to provide their response to the letter of acceptance by February 1 of the year in which you wish to start your degree program.

How soon before starting my studies at St Stephens College do I need to arrive in Edmonton

The annual Orientation Day for new students is early June (check the College website for the applicable year's course schedule). It is recommended you arrive in Edmonton with sufficient time to settle into your living arrangements before class sessions commence.


How do I travel to Edmonton during the COVID-19 pandemic

Check current information about travel during COVID-19 before making any arrangements.

If admitted to the degree, diploma or certificate program, who will I consult for academic and career counselling

The Chair of the Department overseeing your particular program:

Do I have to study full time or can I study part time

As of June 1, 2014, all study permit holders in Canada need to actively pursue studies. This means that if you hold a study permit, you must remain enrolled and make reasonable and timely progress towards completing your program; failing to do so could lead to your removal from Canada. St. Stephen's College will report to IRCC on your continued enrolment and academic status. You may also be asked by an immigration officer to provide evidence of your continued enrolment and academic status.

Reasonable and timely progress varies for each program:


Length of Program

Students taking a FULL COURSE LOAD can complete the program in:

Graduate Certificate in Spiritually-Informed Creative Arts 1 year
Graduate Certificate in Spiritually-Informed Psychotherapy 1 year
Master of Psychotherapy and Spirituality MPS in 4 years; MPS Art Therapy in 5 years
Post-Master's Art Therapy Diploma 4 years
Graduate Certificate in Spiritual Care 2 years
Graduate Certificate in Spiritual Direction 1 year for credited requirements (plus 2 years for non-credited Spiritual Direction program)
Graduate Certificate in Theological Studies 2 years
Master of Theological Studies 3 years
Doctor of Ministry 4 years (for credited and non-credited requirements). Most students complete the degree in 5-6 years.

St. Stephen's considers 15 graduate credits annually to be a full course load. To maintain fulltime status, students must complete 60 percent of a full load per year (min. 9 credits annually). For tax and other funding purposes, students are considered full-time if they either (a) complete at least 0.75 credits per month, or (b) are in the research/writing phase of their program. Master's students are in the research/writing phase upon formal approval of the Thesis/ITP or Culminating Paper Proposal, or enrolment in the Capstone Project course. Doctoral students are in the research/writing phase upon completion of their Integrative Paper.

Can I work while I am studying at St Stephens College

If you plan to combine study and work while in Canada, familiarize yourself with the information available through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
It is unlikely that your Study Permit conditions will allow you to work off campus while completing your studies; this will depend on your personal circumstances. For the MTS, MPS and PMATD programs, unpaid practicum work experience is part of the curriculum (and must be completed in Canada); practicum supervisors are approved and appointed by the College.

After graduation am I eligible to apply to work temporarily in Canada under the PGWP Program

Yes, but only if you graduated from a degree program (diplomas and certificates are not eligible), and maintained full-time status as a student in Canada during each semester of your study program (except your final semester, which can be part-time, or if you took a leave from studies). You must normally complete the majority of your study program with in-class courses; however, if your in-class courses were moved to an online-only format because of COVID-19, you're still eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP). Along with graduating from an eligible designated learning institution, you need to meet all other criteria to get a post-graduation work permit:

For information about applying to travel, study, work or immigrate to Canada, apply for citizenship, a permanent resident card or refugee protection, please visit:

Can I bring my family with me

Look carefully at details provided on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website to see about this possibility.

How long can I stay in Canada after graduation from my degree program

Your study permit will include entry and exit dates. There is information at the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website about applying to change the conditions of your permit or extend your stay in Canada:

What if I want to travel outside of and then return to Canada while I have my study permit/visa

There is information on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website about leaving and coming back to Canada.

Do I need health insurance coverage during the time I am in Canada

St. Stephen's College does not have a health plan available for students. The Government of Canada does not pay for the medical costs of international students. Health coverage for international students varies among the provinces of Canada. If you are residing in Canada for a prolonged period you can learn more about whether you will qualify for an Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP). We advise you to purchase Visitor to Canada Insurance, which is available from private insurance companies, if you are physically present in Canada but not eligible for AHCIP coverage.

How will I get around in Edmonton

Edmonton has an extensive, user-friendly public transit system.

How do I find a place to live in Edmonton

A list of temporary living accommodations located close to the College can be provided to you upon request. Additional information can be found on the City of Edmonton website.

St. Stephen's students are able to apply for housing through University of Alberta Residence Services. This housing is normally for University of Alberta students, but Residence Services will accept applications from St. Stephen's students because the College is on campus. However, University of Alberta students get first priority, and space availability cannot be confirmed until the first week of September. St. Stephen's College students wishing to apply for accommodations will need a computing ID (CCID); contact St. Stephen's Registrar's Office to obtain.

What kind of community is Edmonton

Edmonton is known for its multicultural and interfaith diversity. As part of your preparations for moving here you may want to see if there is a community of Canadians from your home country living here. Being in a supportive community environment and keeping in touch with persons from the same cultural tradition or spiritual family can strengthen the learning experience.

If you have further questions:

Please contact the Chair of the program at St. Stephen's College in which you are interested or the Registrar at Phone: 780-439-7311.