Application Process

St. John’s Seminary has had a proud tradition of preparing men for the responsibilities and challenges of priestly service and ministry since 1939. We continue that tradition today in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council so that our seminarians can meet the various demands of parish ministry in our times.

Episcopal Recommendation

The formation of priests is a response to the call of Jesus Christ. After He spoke to Peter and Andrew, the two laid down their fishing nets and followed him (Matt. 4:18-20). St. John’s Seminary helps to form men to serve the Church as priests. Candidates seeking admission to St. John’s Seminary require the approbation and sponsorship of their respective diocesan bishops or religious superiors. Applicants for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles must apply in person or by letter to the Archdiocesan Vocation Director. Candidates who belong to a religious community, or who wish to be enrolled for another diocese, will be admitted only on the written recommendation of their respective Ordinaries or their duly appointed Vocation Directors. All candidates, without exception, must conform to the standards of moral and academic fitness required by this seminary, in accordance with the prescriptions of Canon law, and must give evidence of being able to conform to the goals of the seminary. The seminary always reserves the right to dismiss a seminarian when it considers him unsuitable for seminary life or priesthood.

Admission Requirements

All prospective applicants for admission to St. John’s Seminary and/or its degree programs must complete an admission application packet available from their vocation director or St. John’s Seminary. Applicants must request letters of recommendation from their sponsoring bishop, vocation director, or religious superior; from their pastor; from the rector of any seminary previously attended; and from a present employer or from a faculty member at the last school they attended. Applicants who wish to enter a degree program must demonstrate that they can do graduate-level work. They are required to complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). For applicants whose first language is not English, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is also required. Normally, all GRE scores presented must have been earned within five years of application. Any applicant who has successfully completed a graduate degree at a regionally accredited university or college is exempt from presenting GRE scores. Those who present applications with temporary deficiencies may, with the Dean’s approval, be conditionally admitted with the understanding that such deficiencies will be taken care of within one semester of acceptance. Further testing may be required at the discretion of the Academic Dean in accord with the Program of Priestly Formation established by the United States bishops. All students must meet the standards of moral and academic fitness required by this seminary in accordance with directives and prescriptions of the Church. The seminary always reserves the right to dismiss a seminarian when it considers him to be unsuitable for seminary life or for the priesthood. The seminary ordinarily requires a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, from an accredited institution, with adequate courses in philosophy and religious studies as specified in the Program of Priestly Formation, 5th edition. Those applicants who do not have sufficient background for entrance into regular theological studies will be considered for the Pre-Theology Program. Those who have the required credentials and background and are accepted into St. John’s Seminary will be eligible to pursue the Master of Divinity degree. Others may be admitted into the seminary but not immediately into the M.Div. program. The deadline for applications for the Fall Semester is July 1. All documents, once submitted by applicants, become the property of St. John’s Seminary, and the right to retain these is reserved. The seminary also requires students to sign a waiver regarding information sought for purposes of admission. Upon completion of the application packet, applicants are interviewed by members of the Admissions Committee. The interviews explore the applicant’s academic readiness for seminary studies, human development, and vocational aptitude. After the interviews, the committee submits its recommendations to the rector, who makes the final decision to admit an applicant. For a detailed description of the requirements for admission please refer to the current Academic Catalog.

Entrance Testing and Personal Interview

Applicants are interviewed by the Admissions Committee and tested by means of academic examinations and other examinations in accordance with The Program of Priestly Formation (PPF #47) of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. The seminary also reserves the right to refuse admission to applicants when it judges them to be unsuitable for seminary life or for the priesthood.

  1. Anyone applying for admission who has not already done so to the satisfaction of the Admissions Committee, will undergo full psychological evaluation at his own expense. This also applies to those who are seeking readmittance.
  2. Applicants for whom English is a second language may be asked to take an examination in English and, if necessary, to do remedial language study. An applicant may be required to begin remedial work before beginning his studies at the seminary or as soon as possible after beginning his studies at the seminary. An applicant may be denied admission if there are sufficient indications of inadequate language skills or academic preparation.


No candidate may be admitted to St. John’s Seminary without the approval and sponsorship of a diocese or religious community. Therefore, prior to his admission to the seminary, a candidate is to determine prayerfully and with spiritual guidance, the diocese or religious community for which he proposes to study and which, in turn, will sponsor his admission to the seminary. Once the diocese has accepted a candidate for sponsorship and has submitted that candidate’s application to the seminary, there arises a certain bond between the candidate and the sponsoring diocese. What further is said here regarding sponsoring dioceses and bishops is understood to include sponsoring religious communities and religious superiors.

Transfer of Sponsorship

The candidate proposes to serve the Local Church in a particular diocese, and that diocese proposes to sponsor this particular candidate for the program of priestly formation. The bond with one’s Local Church ought not to be severed except for the most weighty reasons, after mature deliberation, careful consideration of the needs of the diocese which is presently sponsoring him, and sound advice. It is the policy of St. John’s Seminary to discourage seminarians from transferring from one diocese to another. It is the accepted norm that a seminarian commits himself to the archdiocese or diocese in which he resides, and that this commitment continues throughout his seminary years leading to ordination. Cases in which a seminarian would transfer from one diocese to another, or to or from a religious community, while continuing to study at St. John’s Seminary ought to be rare. In those rare cases, should a particular seminarian wish to initiate a process of transfer from one diocese or religious community to another, he is to follow in succession the following steps:

  1. The seminarian speaks about and carefully discerns this matter with his Spiritual Director. If, through a process of spiritual direction, the seminarian discerns that he truly believes that God is calling him to this transfer, then he should move to the next step in the process.
  2. The seminarian speaks with his External Forum Advisor, who, to the best of his ability, will ascertain that the seminarian is not making any ill-advised decisions nor taking imprudent action.
  3. The seminarian speaks with his Vocation Director and his Bishop to inform them of his discernment process and to allow them to dissuade him from making a transfer, if they deem such appropriate. The seminarian is required to involve his Vocation Director and/or Bishop in the process of discernment before taking any action toward a formal request for transfer to another diocese. At this point, the seminarian is also expected to inform the Rector of the Seminary of his intent.
  4. If the Bishop of the sponsoring diocese gives his permission for a transfer, he writes a letter of release for the seminarian. A copy of this letter is to be sent to the Rector of the Seminary. (In this case, proceed to step 6.)
  5. If the Bishop of the sponsoring diocese does not wish to give his permission for a transfer, the seminarian ought to accept this decision in a spirit of obedience. If, on the other hand, he desires to pursue the matter further, he must consult with the Rector of the Seminary before taking any further actions.
  6. Upon receipt of his Bishop’s letter releasing him for transfer, the seminarian then writes a letter to the Bishop of the diocese to which he feels called, requesting that he be considered by the Bishop as a possible candidate for his diocese. A copy of this letter is also sent by the seminarian to the Rector of the Seminary.
  7. The Bishop shall take whatever action he judges appropriate. If he is willing to consider the request for a transfer, he will usually refer the matter to his diocesan Vocation Director who will thoroughly evaluate the candidate through a standard assessment process that will also include receiving permission from the candidate to speak with his External Forum Advisor, and the Rector of the Seminary, as well as permission to review his life at the Seminary.
  8. If the candidate appears to be suitable, the Vocation Director makes a recommendation to the Bishop for his approval and acceptance of the candidate. The Candidate will be notified by letter of the Bishop’s decision, officially declaring a transfer of sponsorship. A copy of this letter is sent to the Rector of the Seminary, as well as to the Bishop and Vocation Director of the former diocese of sponsorship.

It is the policy that these infrequent transfers occur officially and take effect during the summer months and never during the course of the school year. The reasons for the transfer of a particular student shall not be deemed as precedent for the transfer of another student. Each case shall be judged on its merits, always considering the policy of the Seminary to discourage requests for transfer.

Applicants to the Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry Degree can obtain applications from the Academic Dean’s Office.

For admission to the Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry degree program, prospective candidates must satisfy the following requirements:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from an institution of higher learning, accredited by a principal and recognized regional accrediting organization.
  2. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test scores, not more than five years old or successful completion of a previous graduate level academic program.
  3. An undergraduate grade point average of 2.5/4.0 or better.
  4. Letter of recommendation from sponsoring pastor or religious superior.

What is a MAPM degree?

The MAPM or Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry is a two year (full time), 42 unit degree program consisting of theological and pastoral ministry competency requirements as well as the successful completion of the MAPM integration paper or Project.

Who gets the MAPM Degree?

The degree is designed for non-resident students who have been identified by their pastors or religious superiors as persons able to serve as lay pastoral associates, parish life directors, directors of religious education, youth or young adult ministers, adult faith formators, or in a variety of ministerial positions open to laity in Catholic parishes or other pastoral settings such as hospitals, campuses or prisons.

Do I take classes with seminarians or is it a separate program?

The MAPM students join the seminarians for required courses.

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