2016-2017 Graduate Catalog 
    Jan 29, 2023  
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Admissions Information

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In examining the credentials of applicants, admissions personnel consider the applicant’s Christian experience, commitment, and character; academic ability, as revealed by an applicant’s post-secondary academic records; and writing ability, as revealed by the autobiographical essay.

Campus Visits

Prospective students are encouraged to visit the University. A visit to campus may include the opportunity to meet with an admissions counselor, graduate faculty member, and students; attend a class; or take a campus tour. Prior arrangement for a visit is recommended. Prospective students may arrange a personal visit by calling 800.572.2472 or 215.702.4235, or by emailing graduate@cairn.edu.

General Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission to the graduate programs at Cairn University, the applicant must:

  1. Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college, university, or seminary.
  2. Submit a completed application form with a $25.00 non-refundable application fee.
  3. Submit references as specified by degree program requirements. References should not be completed by family members.
  4. Submit official copies of transcripts from each undergraduate and graduate school attended. The transcript must provide degree information, including date of graduation and degree earned, and the institution’s accreditation status. Official transcripts are those sent directly from the issuing institution to Cairn Graduate Admissions.
  5. Have an undergraduate cumulative grade point average of 2.50 or higher (3.00 for the MS in Educational Leadership and Administration, Master of Theology, and Principal Certification programs; 2.80 for the MS in Education program). Applicants with lower grade point averages may contact their admissions counselor about alternative means of demonstrating academic ability.
  6. Submit a Statement of Purpose and Spiritual Statement.
  7. Complete the unique admissions requirements for each graduate program. Each graduate program may require additional essays, assessment forms, and/or interviews in the application process.

Re-entrant Requirements

Students who have been inactive for two or more years must submit a Graduate Application for Re-Admission. Consideration for re-admission is dependent on clearances from the registrar and Business Services. Re-entrant applicants must request official transcripts from each higher education institution attended since leaving Cairn. Applicants may be required to complete an interview with the respective program chair before re-admission is granted. Students will be governed by the curriculum that is current at the time of re-admittance. Students who have been inactive for less than two years are not required to submit a Graduate Application for Re-Admission and should contact their faculty advisor to register for courses.

International Applicants

International students interested in applying to Cairn University’s graduate programs must meet the standard admissions requirements. In addition to these requirements, international students must complete the following:


Applicants for whom English is not their native language are required to demonstrate proficiency by taking the TOEFL examination. Applicants must obtain the following minimum score: Paper-based, 550; Computer-based, 213; Internet-based, 79. Applicants who do not meet minimum TOEFL requirements will not be eligible for acceptance. All scores must be no more than two years old and must be submitted directly from ETS.

TOEFL Waiver Eligibility

A TOEFL waiver may be granted for the following reasons:

  1. Applicants who have successfully completed an undergraduate or graduate degree in the United States within two years of submitting an application
  2. Applicants who have a TOEFL score that is less than two years old and meets the minimum requirements will not be required to retake the TOEFL
  3. Applicants who have completed alternative English proficiency exams with comparable passing scores

International Transcript Evaluation

Applicants who submit transcripts, diplomas, certificates, etc., from non-US institutions must have them evaluated by a credential evaluator such as WES or AACRAO. Applicants are responsible for all fees associated with the evaluation and must make arrangements with the credential evaluator to send and receive all documents. Evaluation must confirm that a student’s undergraduate education is equivalent to an undergraduate degree from an accredited US institution. Cairn requires a document-by-document evaluation of transcripts for admission. However, students seeking transfer credit should choose a course-by-course evaluation. Official transcript evaluations must be sent directly to Cairn’s graduate admissions office.

Admissions Deadlines

International students who wish to apply to Cairn’s graduate programs are required to submit their application by January 15 for summer admission, by May 1 for fall admission, and by September 1 for spring admission.

Application Process

  1. An application should be submitted according to the instructions printed on the application form. A non-refundable application fee of $25 (US) must accompany the form.
  2. Submit references as specified by degree program requirements. References should be returned directly to Cairn Graduate Admissions.
  3. The applicant must request that official transcripts be sent from each undergraduate and graduate school attended. The transcript must provide degree information, including date of graduation, degree earned, and the institution’s accreditation status. Official transcripts are those sent directly from the issuing institution to Cairn Graduate Admissions.
  4. Upon receipt of the application, the applicant will be sent an acknowledgment that will indicate what is needed to complete the application file. When a delay in an admission decision is experienced, it is often because the application has not been fully completed or all required information received.
  5. Master of Business Administration, Master of Divinity, Master of Theology, Master of Science in Counseling, and Master of Science in Educational Leadership and Administration applicants are required to complete an interview. The interview is used to assess an applicant’s emotional stability, relational maturity, and ministry potential. The admissions counselor will notify the applicant when all required application materials are received and it is appropriate to schedule an interview.
  6. The applicant is notified in writing of the admission decision when the application file and interview (if necessary) are complete and have been reviewed by the Admissions Committee. The University Admissions Office is not required to provide reasons for rejecting an applicant should that decision be made. Applicants denied admission may not reapply for admission to the same graduate degree program for a period of one year from the date of the denial letter, unless an exception is stipulated in the denial letter. The admissions rules, policies, and procedures that govern the admissions process at that future time will be applicable. Applicants who have been denied admission three times may not apply again. The admission denials can be for the same or different graduate programs.

Admissions Classifications

Unconditional Admission

An applicant is given unconditional admission to Cairn University when all of the criteria for application and admission have been fulfilled. Applicants are notified in writing concerning unconditional admission on a rolling basis throughout the year.

Provisional Admission

Applicants whose applications are incomplete or who do not meet the admission criteria may be granted provisional admission to the graduate programs. A provisionally accepted student may sign up for a maximum number of credits to be determined by program requirements. Upon satisfactory completion of these credits with a grade point average of 2.50 (3.00 or above for Counseling, Education, and Educational Leadership and Administration programs), the student will be admitted unconditionally if all other criteria for application and admission are fulfilled. Provisional admission is not automatic. Students are evaluated on an individual basis. Provisionally accepted students are given matriculating status.

Qualifying students who are within 10 credits of completing an undergraduate degree may also begin their graduate studies under provisional status. Applicants must fulfill standard admissions requirements with the exception of the official undergraduate transcript. An unofficial transcript must be submitted temporarily to verify current GPA and total credits completed. Students must submit official transcripts with graduation remarks by the end of their first semester in the graduate program.

Nonmatriculant Status

Individuals who desire to take graduate courses but do not plan to work toward a graduate degree may apply for admission as a nonmatriculating student. Nonmatriculating applicants must submit the Graduate Application for Admission and an unofficial transcript(s) from their undergraduate school. Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.50 or greater for consideration. Permission to register as a nonmatriculant student is conditional based on available space.

Upon completion of 10 credits, the nonmatriculatant student must complete the application process for acceptance into a degree program to continue studies. If a nonmatriculant student is admitted to a graduate program, the credits earned in a course as a nonmatriculant graduate student may be used to meet degree requirements. In no case may more than 10 credits taken before admission to a program be used toward degree requirements. Nonmatriculating status is not permitted for the Master of Divinity, Master of Theology, or MS in Counseling degree programs.

Auditor Status

An audit is the privilege to attend a course for enrichment without receiving academic credit. An auditor will be accepted upon approval of the program chair and instructor. A limited number of persons are permitted to audit if classroom space permits. No credit is granted in such cases, but attendance is recorded on a transcript. An auditor should not expect individual attention or personal evaluation from the instructor. Withdrawal from auditing a course requires the normal withdrawal process. Applicants interested in auditing courses must submit a Graduate Application for Admission and an unofficial transcript(s) from their undergraduate school. Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.50 or greater for consideration. The audit fee is 50% of the tuition rate for the course.

Advance Standing

A graduate of an accredited Bible college, Christian liberal arts college or university, or seminary may be eligible for up to 6 credits of advance standing for earned Bible/theology credits when enrolled in the Business Administration, International Entrepreneurship, Counseling, Nonprofit Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Education, and Educational Leadership and Administration programs, up to 12 credits of advance standing for the Master of Arts in Religion program, or up to 30 credits in the Master of Divinity program. University Registrar’s Office personnel will evaluate official transcripts and the admissions counselor will inform the applicant of the number of credits accepted for advance standing. An individual curriculum design will then be constructed by the admissions counselor to determine the specific courses a student needs to complete the degree.

Transfer Credit

For students in the Religion, Counseling, Business Administration, International Entrepreneurship, Nonprofit Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Education, or Educational Leadership and Administration programs, a maximum of six (6) transfer credits appropriate to the student’s degree program will be awarded for graduate-level work successfully completed at a regionally accredited postsecondary institution. For students in the Master of Divinity program, a maximum of 30 credits, including any advance standing Bible/theology credits, will be awarded. For students in the Master of Theology program, a maximum of 12 credits will be awarded. The student is responsible for obtaining the official documents needed to process transfer credits. Official transcripts must be sent to the admissions counselor for evaluation by University Registrar’s Office personnel.

Unconditional Credit

Transfer credit and advance standing are normally granted unconditionally for courses taken at institutions accredited by an accrediting association recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Previous work taken at an international school will be evaluated individually.

Provisional Credit

Provisional transfer and advance standing credit may be considered for courses taken at institutions not accredited by an accrediting association recognized by CHEA. Provisional credit becomes applicable to the degree program only after the student completes ten (10) Cairn graduate credits with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00.

Preliminary Evaluation

When advising a prospective student, an admissions counselor may estimate transfer credits and advance standing on a preliminary basis utilizing unofficial documents. However, such estimates will be considered binding only after timely receipt of official transcripts validating the information contained in unofficial documents and after review by University Registrar’s Office personnel.

Credit for Prior Learning

Students with extensive background in a subject or ministry paralleling Cairn course offerings may be given opportunity to document their achievement and/or college-level competency and thus earn academic credit. This will be evaluated by the appropriate school dean, the program chair, and the University registrar. Interested students should request the CPL information packet from the University Admissions Office.

New Student Orientation

Prior to the start of the fall semester, Student Life hosts a graduate orientation to acquaint students with the Cairn graduate programs. This orientation provides an opportunity for students to meet faculty, staff, and students; complete registration; learn about student services; and handle details such as obtaining student identification cards and parking permits. Attendance is recommended. The dates for graduate orientations are found in the academic calendar.