Frequently Asked Questions

Graduate Studies

Whom do I speak to about applying to a graduate degree program?
Please contact the Director of Recruitment and Financial Aid at (585) 271-3657 ext. 289 or

What degree or educational prerequisites are needed to apply to St. Bernard’s graduate programs?
All applicants to St. Bernard’s graduate programs must hold a four-year baccalaureate degree, or the U.S. equivalent, granted by an accredited college or university. Exception would be students pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Pastoral Studies.

Are there any application deadlines for the graduate program?
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, which means students can be admitted in any of the 3 academic semesters. There are 3 semesters, each approximately 15 weeks in length: fall (August–Dec); spring (Jan–May) and summer (May–July).

What is the application fee?
The application fee is $75. You can pay the fee by check, bank draft, money order or traveler’s check. Make your document payable to St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry.

Are notorized photocopies of academic documents accepted?
No. Academic documents (photocopies or originals) must be attested (bearing an original colored stamp and/or signature) by the granting college or university. Unfortunately, we cannot accept notarized documents.

How are admission decisions made?
Decisions on graduate selection are made by the Office of the Dean. All applicants will be notified of the admission decision as soon as possible. All credentials are considered in the application decision–including transcripts, personal statement and letters of recommendation. Work experience is NOT required.

When can I expect an admission decision and how will I be notified?
The Director of Recruitment & Financial Aid will contact you to acknowledge receipt of your application

When can I start classes at St. Bernard’s?
First time students may enroll in classes at the beginning of any of the 3 semesters.

Can I take classes at St. Bernard’s without being officially admitted to a degree program?
Yes, a student who has demonstrated the ability to undertake graduate level work may enroll as an Unclassified Student and is allowed to complete no more than four courses before declaring for a specific degree program in a Master of Arts program.

Do you accept transfer credit?
Yes, depending on the degree program, between 7 and 12 courses may be accepted for transfer credit, pending approval. Please contact the Academic Dean with specific questions.

More questions?
You can find more information on by clicking on Graduate Studies.

Finances/Student Billing Account

How much money do I need to pay at the time of Registration?
Students are required to pay the registration fee plus 25% of the total course tuition at the time of registration. Courses need to be paid in full by the end of the semester. If this is not possible, you can set up an extended payment schedule

What if I need to drop a course?
Should St. Bernard’s cancel a course, the School will refund all tuition and fees.  Should the student withdraw from a course, and the course continues, s/he is responsible for the  registration fees and tuition for the duration of his/her attendance in the course, per schedules below.  For courses which meet on a bi-weekly basis, a single class session represents approximately 1.5 sessions of a weekly class (proportionally).  Hence, there are 2 distinct refund schedules appropriate to the varying course formats.  St. Bernard’s charges tuition until the date of official withdrawal.  If the student has paid in full for the course, refund will be prorated as indicated below:

Refund Schedule for Weekly Courses:
Prior to first class 100% tuition refund
after 1 class session 90% tuition refund
after 2 class sessions 80% tuition refund
after 3 class sessions 60% tuition refund
after 4 class sessions 40% tuition refund
after 5 class sessions no refund


Refund Schedule for Bi-Weekly Courses:
Prior to first class 100% tuition refund
after 1 class session 90% tuition refund
after 2 class sessions 70% tuition refund
after 3 class sessions 30% tuition refund
after 4 class sessions no refund

Discontinuance of attendance or notice to the Professor does not constitute withdrawal.  The student must make application for withdrawal or for a change in class schedule by submitting a Graduate Course Change Form.


When does my bill need to be paid?
Unless one is on a payment plan, all previous bills need to be paid before registering for the following semester.  St. Bernard’s will not grant a degree, nor release grades to students, nor grant credit for coursework completed, nor issue transcripts, unless all charges for a given semester are paid in full.

Are tuition payment plans available?
Yes, St. Bernard’s does have a payment plan. Students may arrange with our Controller a payment plan with a fixed number and duration of installments.

How do I notify St. Bernard’s of aid I am receiving from my parish/sponsoring organization?
Please contact our Controller with information regarding any additional aid you are receiving.  Students are requested to inform St. Bernard’s on a yearly basis regarding additional aid they receive outside of Diocesan and St. Bernard’s Tuition Assistance. Students who are receiving parish support need to complete a Tuition Assistance Application yearly.

More questions?
You can learn more information by contacting our Controller or by clicking Scholarships & Financial Aid.

Financial Aid

Does St. Bernard’s offer financial assistance? 

Yes, financial assistance is available for graduate students attending St. Bernard’s Rochester. Financial assistance may include grants, scholarships, Veterans Benefits, and government loans.

When can I apply for financial aid?

Current students: Students already receiving aid must renew their aid application during the yearly application process. Current students may apply for aid during early spring semester and are notified of awards late spring semester for the upcoming school year. Financial aid applications are due by April 1st. Applications for Financial Aid renewal may be picked up in the Financial Aid Office as well as obtained on-line.

New Students: New students may apply for aid for the semester in which they enroll. Application deadlines for Fall enrollment should be submitted by August 1st, Spring enrollment December 1st, Summer enrollment April 1st.

Does the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Financial Aid) need to be completed in order to be considered for financial assistance?

Yes. In order to be considered for St. Bernard’s Scholarships, Tuition Assistance or Federal Student Loan Programs, students must complete the FAFSA application and have results sent electronically to St. Bernard’s. It is recommended that you complete the FAFSA on-line at and keep a copy for your records before submitting to St. Bernard’s.

What is the Federal School Code for St. Bernard’s?

The Federal School Code for St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry is 002815. Students need to provide this code when completing the FAFSA form to insure that the information provided will be sent to St. Bernard’s.

What does the EFC number on my Student Aid Report (SAR) mean?

The data reported on your FAFSA is used to calculate the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) value. This value is used to determine your federal aid eligibility. Eligibility is based on the difference between the estimated costs of attendance and what a student can reasonably be expected to contribute (Expected Family Contribution or EFC).

How will my aid be disbursed to me?

Once all requested documentation has been received and processed by the Financial Aid Office, your awards will be disbursed to St. Bernard’s Finance Office to be applied towards any outstanding balance. Any credit balance will be disbursed to you by the Finance Office.

Do I have to be a full-time student to receive financial aid? 

No. Students requesting financial aid from St. Bernard’s and the Diocese of Rochester must be taking courses for credit and working towards a degree within the graduate school. Students who are matriculated receive preference for financial aid.

More questions?
You can find more information by clicking Scholarships & Financial Aid.


Permanent Diaconate Studies

He is a man of faith, who is called from the community that already recognizes his dedication to service. He makes a lifetime commitment to serve the people of God by proclaiming the Word, assisting and presiding at Liturgies, and ministering in the areas of charity and social justice. A permanent deacon proclaims his availability to the community by addressing present and emerging needs of the Church. He may serve out of the context of a parish ministry and/or one of several ministries constituted to help the poor and disenfranchised, the lonely and the weak, the sick and dying. The bishop assigns all deacons to a ministry. In the letter of assignment, specific duties and responsibilities are delineated.

The short answer to this question is no. Most deacons have a full time secular job. They normally dedicate a minimum of 10 hours per week to their ministry assignment. Deacons graciously work as volunteers in their assignments. The unique contribution of the permanent deacon is his representative Christian witness in the everyday world of family, work and civic life.

Candidates must be men of strong and active faith and have a demonstrated record of service in the community in which they live, work and worship. A man must be at least 35 years of age and no more than 62 years of age at the time of ordination. He must be in good health, emotionally mature and have stable relationships. Men may be single or married. Single men take a vow of celibacy at ordination. A married candidate who is subsequently ordained, and whose wife dies, may not remarry.


There is a 4-year program of formation studies. The formation program consists of courses in scripture, theology and pastoral studies; spiritual and formational experiences; and field education. Saint Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry at 120 French Road in Pittsford, conducts this program for the Diocese of Rochester.


If married, a candidate must have the wholehearted support of his wife and family in his desire to enter the formation program. Wives are invited to attend classes and other events throughout the four years of the program. Their support and that of other family members, particularly children, is vital to the process. Both formation and diaconal service require adjustments on the part of all family members. Support is given to help candidates balance family duties and family time with their formation responsibilities.


The process begins with a day of reflection for interested men and their wives, which is held in late spring. Those who decide to apply complete an application.   The application includes an autobiography, family information, education background and references. Applicants and their wives are interviewed in the fall. Also, at this time background checks are completed. The bishop notifies applicants of his decision regarding their application in December. The first year of formation, which is called aspirancy, begins in late January.

More questions?
You can find more information by clicking Permanent Diaconate Formation.