Diploma in Spiritual Formation Studies Overview
The Diploma in Spiritual Formation Studies (DSFS) offers pastors and layperson's concentrated, seminary-level studies of Christian spiritual formation for the benefit of their ministries and their own spiritual lives. Coursework includes the study of texts and contexts, as well as the experiential exploration of Christianity's spiritually formative practices.

The DSFS rests upon the following convictions: It recognizes Scripture as its theological and spiritual foundation. In particular, it recognizes the call to servant friendship voiced in John 15:15, and it acknowledges the proclamation of the ancient christological hymn preserved in Paul's letter to the Philippians which claims that God is present among us and desires to be in relationship with humankind. It is grounded in a covenental theology based on God's initiative as expressed most deeply by Christ's indwelling. It embodies its Protestant heritage through an emphasis on Scripture, prayer, sacramental and other ritual expressions and its focus on the congregation as the locus of spiritual formation. It honors the call of the Church to be reformed and always reforming and works for the transformation of unjust structures and, ultimately, of the world.

Admission Requirements
Admission to the DSFS program normally requires a bachelor's degree (or equivalent) and is open to those who have completed undergraduate work appropriate for admission to seminary studies. Exceptions to the latter will be made when persons can demonstrate sufficient academic work, church leadership experience and/or life experience as judged by the Director. The Admissions Committee of the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction (DASD) program evaluates applicants to the DSFS program.

Admission Process
Applicants need to submit completed applications (application sheet and narrative) with a $40.00 non-refundable application fee prior to May 1 for admission to the fall semester or prior to September 1 for admission to the spring semester of any year. Applicants must also submit references and transcripts by these deadlines for full consideration. Following the admissions meeting, applicants will be notified by mail of their status regarding admission to the DSFS program. Students are admitted in any semester. Concurrent or subsequent admission to SFTS degree programs is neither guaranteed nor implied by admission to the DSFS program.

The DSFS program consists of 24 semester credit hours at the graduate level (equal to eight 3-credit hour courses or one full-time academic year). With the advisement and approval of the Director of the DSFS program, students take courses from the regular course offerings of SFTS and the GTU according to the students' interests so that each student pursues the study of texts and contexts and the experiential exploration of Christianity's spiritually formative practices for the benefit of their ministries and their own spiritual lives. Such courses of study are designed with the following in mind:

  • that spiritual formation takes place primarily within the context of the Christian community and within particular faith traditions
  • that Christian spiritual formation is biblically based and draws upon the heritage of 2000 years of the lived experience of the faith
  • that spiritual formation is about the transformation of one's life in the direction of the God revealed in Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit
  • that spiritual formation leads to the service of God's transforming mission in the world

Course Offerings
Throughout the Graduate Theological Union, dozens of courses are available for use in DSFS. Click here to see current offerings.

Class Schedule for Fall
SFTS and GTU fall classes usually begin the day after Labor Day and Spring classes begin the first week in February.

Tuition and Housing Information
$1,325 per three-credit class, which equals $5,300 per 12 credits and $10,600 per 24 credits. There is also a student activity fee of $100, and a graduation fee of $50. SFTS may have available housing for this program. Contact the SFTS Conference Services Department at conferenceservices@sfts.edu.

Relationship to SFTS Degrees
The Diploma in Spiritual Formation Studies may be completed in conjunction with the M.Div. and MATS as approved by appropriate bodies. 12 units of the DSFS courses must be taken at SFTS or a GTU member school.

M.Div. students may enroll in the DSFS program under the following conditions:
  • They must apply and be admitted to the DSFS program as a separate and internally coherent program.
  • Such doubly admitted students may count up to three 3-credit hours of DSFS courses toward the M.Div. degree, so long as these courses are taken during the period of M.Div. study. The tuition for these three courses will be covered at the M.Div. tuition rate. DSFS students will not be eligible for assistance from the regular SFTS financial aid program, except those courses that would count as part of the M.Div. degree.


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Educational Programs

Master of Divinity
Master of Arts in Theological Studies
Doctor of Ministry
Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)
Program in Christian Spirituality

Contact Information

San Francisco Theological Seminary
105 Seminary Rd
San Anselmo CA, 94960
Phone: 415.451.2800
email: info@sfts.edu