English as a Second Language Services (ESLS)

All non-native speakers of English are subject to being required to take the official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) within six months of their application date. Seminarians with scores older than six months will be required to retake the exam. TOEFL iBT (internet-based test) scores are preferred, although TOEFL ITP (paper-based test) scores are also accepted.  

Advanced Level

The Josephinum offers instruction and support only to seminarians who test at the advanced level of ESL (below 80 but above 60 on the TOEFL iBT, or below 550 but above 449 on the TOEFL ITP). Advanced ESL instruction includes instruction in listening and speaking, grammar, reading, and writing. At the advanced level, seminarians in English as a Second Language (ESL) courses also take at least one college/theology course.  

Full-time study in the College of Liberal Arts and the School of Theology

After seminarians have achieved a TOEFL iBT score of 80 (ITP score of 550), they may enroll in a full-time college/theology schedule. ESL support is available to all non-native speakers.

ESL Seminarians and the Master of Divinity Program

The Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree is academically demanding. ESL seminarians must acquire cross-cultural awareness and graduate-level English language skills in order to succeed in this advanced theological degree program.

For the ESL seminarian, the standard for entry into the MDiv program, assuming that Pre-Theology Program standards have already been met, is a composite TOEFL score of:


80 on the TOEFL iBT (or internet-based test) or

550 on the TOEFL ITP (paper-based test).


ESL seminarians should not take MDiv courses without having first attained one of these scores. Seminarians without the required minimum TOEFL scores will take ESL courses until they attain the target score.

The academic deans, in consultation with the ESL instructor, deans of community life, and formation advisors will establish a course of study for each ESL seminarian.

Learning Services


Learning Services aid seminarians who are experiencing academic difficulty by identifying the areas of difficulty and providing assistance. Such services include assistance with study skills, writing, and time management.  

The Josephinum provides reasonable accommodations to seminarians with diagnosed and documented learning disabilities. Any need for reasonable accommodations should be brought to the attention of the appropriate academic dean. In order to provide the most appropriate reasonable accommodations, the Josephinum may require diagnostic testing, with the agreement of the sending diocese.

Students with a documented learning disability who wish to request reasonable academic accommodations should first contact the appropriate academic dean to request these accommodations and then meet with any instructors in whose courses they are requesting accommodations. Accommodation arrangements should be made during the first two weeks of the semester; accommodations are not retroactive. Students must contact the academic dean during the first two weeks of every semester in which accommodations are requested.

Should a seminarian with a diagnosed learning disability need specialized assistance, this assistance will be provided by a specialist whose services will be billed to the seminarian’s sending diocese.