Admission and Application Process
How do I apply and what is the application process?
All international students who want to apply to the Islamic Seminary can do so via the following link:
Once your application is processed, the Islamic Seminary contacts you.
If you don’t hear back for 3 months, feel free to reach out to us and we will try to contact the Islamic Seminary and follow up.
What are the requirements for completing an application?
The admission requirements at the Islamic Seminary may vary for people of different regions. Some of the general requirements are:
- Being Muslim
- Agreeing to abide by the Islamic Seminary regulations
- Having good moral character and right beliefs
- Being in good physical and psychological condition
- Not having any legal prohibition for studying
- Possessing a High School Certificate (equivalent to at least 11 years of school)
- Commitment to finishing the course
- Commitment to offer services according to relevant regulations
- Registering and providing the seminary with all documents when requested
I am sunni or belong to another sect, can I study in Qom?
Yes, all Muslims are welcome to study in Qom, there are already a small number of Muslims from other sects studying here.
What will happen once I make it to Qom?
Assuming you’ve been in contact with one of our volunteers, they will assist you through the initial formalities.
I’ve submitted my online application, what’s next?
We will try our best to follow up on your online application and admission process with the Islamic Seminary.
Does the Islamic Seminary have an age limit?
Officially there is an age limit (18-26) but many exceptions are made for students who qualify. Depending on your case, you may be able to enroll in the Islamic Seminary at any age.
Is there an application deadline? When do classes start?
No, there is no application deadline. The admission in the Islamic Seminary is an ongoing process. After your successful admission, you are required to take Farsi language course which has new classes starting every few weeks. More details about the Farsi language program can be found in the Academics section.
How does the education system of the Islamic Seminary work?
For International students, the Islamic Seminary offers two programs:
(2) Short-term (structured courses spanning over a limited timeframe)
Long-term programs are of two types:
(1) Howza system
(2) Non-Howza system
In Howza system, students cover Levels 1-5 (Ijtihad).
In non-Howza system, students cover 2-year diploma, degree course, post-graduate course and doctorate in Islamic sciences.
Islamic Republic of Iran’s Education Ministry issues the official degree at the completion of the requirements of the education program.
Can I attend short courses in Qom (instead of full Howza)?
Yes, you can attend short courses offered by several Islamic Institutes, colleges, and universities. For example, Al-Hikmah institute is responsible for holding many such courses in different languages. http://istes.miu.ac.ir/
Is there any Arabic school I can study at?
Yes, there are a few options. If you wish to study at an Arabic school, it is certainly possible. After you finish your Farsi language course and the Introductory course, you can choose which school you would like to go to. At that time, you may opt to go to an Arabic school, if you qualify for it.
Is there anything I can do to start learning Farsi?
Yes. There are tons of self learning courses and tools available on the internet. In addition, you can go visit a local library and teach yourself beginners’ Farsi. There is a mobile app available by the name of ‘FastDic’ that you can install and get a jump start on your Farsi vocabulary.
That said, even if you don’t bother to learn Farsi before coming to Qom, the Islamic Seminary does a very good job through its Farsi language course at teaching you Farsi within a few months. So, don’t worry.
What happens after completing Farsi?
After successfully completing the Farsi language books, you will have to complete another 6 to 8 months of introductory howza course, referred to as the Tamhidiya Program.
This is where your language skills will be solidified and you will get a flavor of howza classes. Subjects covered are: Arabic basic morphology and grammar (sarf and nahw), Ahkam (laws), Aqaaid (theology), Mafahim books 1 and 2 (understanding Qur’anic vocabulary), Akhlaq, Tareekh (history) and Tajweed (correct recitation of the Quran). Each of these courses also has exams, typically a midterm, and a final exam.
How long does it take to learn Farsi? What is the Farsi language program like?
Before you start your religious studies, the Islamic Seminary sends all students to a language learning institute with the sole purpose of teaching students the Farsi language. The philosophy of the course is to teach Farsi using only Farsi. This means the teachers and books are only in Farsi and it has proven to be a very effective way to learn the language. The entire course consists of 7 books and each book takes about 1 month to complete. Your day is divided into about 5 hours of classes, 6 days a week (Saturday to Thursday):
7.20 to 10 am: work on vocabulary, grammar, and theory
10 am to 12 pm: practice speaking and writing skills
You will be done with classes by Dhuhr time and will be given about 1 hour of homework to do each day.
The language learning institute is open all year long with a few holidays.
The structure of the course is as follows:
Introductory book (2 weeks): Learn the alphabets and basic words.
Book 1 to 6: each book consists of 20 chapters, typically a chapter is completed within one to 2 days, a book in about a month. These books cover vocabulary, grammar, sentence structures, writing, spelling, speaking etc. In short, after completing 6 months, you will be able to manage day to day conversations, writing, and be able to start understanding Islamic lectures to a certain degree.
For each book you will have 2 exams, a mid term after completing the first 10 chapters, and a final exam after completing the book. Once you pass the exams, you will be able to move on to the next book. If you fail, you may be asked to repeat the exam, or in some cases repeat the entire book. The exams are not very difficult if you regularly attend classes and do your homework!
If for some reason you are not able to keep up with the pace of work, teachers are very willing to help you out and you can study at a slower pace, this typically means having to repeat books in different classes.
Do I have to learn Farsi? Is it easy, difficult, what happens?
The majority of Iranians only speak Farsi, from shop owners to taxi drivers, it’s rare to find someone that knows any English. Also, the majority of your early studies will be in Farsi – thus learning Farsi is vital to your success as a foreign student in Qom. This may seem like a daunting challenge, however, rest assured that the Islamic Seminary has made the process of learning this historic and beautiful language very easy. There are students from China that start speaking and reading Farsi books in a short time frame of 6 to 8 months.
Do I need to know Arabic? How is Arabic taught?
The short answer is no, you don’t need to know Arabic before starting your studies here.
The long answer is that knowing Arabic, the language of the Quran, Prophet, and Imams is considered essential to Islamic studies. Knowing any Arabic before starting your studies will be a huge advantage for you. Arabic grammar courses are mandatory in the Islamic Seminary and will last for at least 2 to 3 years. They are usually considered to be difficult courses, any prior knowledge of Arabic grammar will be of great benefit.
Is there a standard syllabus or curriculum for Islamic studies? What will I be learning?
After completing Farsi language introductory course, your first 2-3 years courses at the Islamic Seminary will consist of general Islamic courses such as Arabic grammar, Aqaid (theology), History, Ahkam (laws), Mantiq (Logic), Quran Recitation. Afterward, you may be able to choose an area of specialization such as Philosophy and theology, Islamic History, Fiqh and Usool (Jurisprudence and Principles of Jurisprudence), Qur’an and Hadeeth, Arabic grammar, Persian literature, Shi’a studies, Religions & Islamic Sects, Human & Social Sciences, and Uloome tarbiyati (Upbringing incl. Psychology).
How long do the studies take in the Islamic Seminary?
From start to finish, if someone wishes to do a Ph.D., the program can take up to 12 years or more:
|6 to 8 months|
4 to 6 months
|Farsi – Certificate of Completion|
Introductory Howza Course
|4-5 years||Bachelors Degree|
|2-3 years||Masters Degree|
|5-6 years||Ph.D. and/or Ijtihaad|
What is the academic calendar at the Islamic Seminary?
After completing the Farsi program and the Introductory course, which is ongoing all year round, the Islamic Seminary switches to a 2-semester system which is similar to other universities around the world.
Financing your stay
What is the cost of living in Qom?
Life in Qom compared to other cities of the world is considerably cheap. A family of 4 can usually live a comparable and luxurious life to that in a Western country with a budget of about 500-600 Euro a month (including rent).
Iran has one of the cheapest utilities (Gas, electricity, telephone, and water) prices. Each may take up less than 10 Euro a month.
All utility payments can be conveniently made online or through telephone.
Disclaimer: The Iranian currency is at times very unstable and can rapidly devalue, causing a significant change in prices of commodities. The cost of living is always subject to change.
How can I finance my living costs?
You should be able to self finance your cost of living. We strongly advise having a financial plan in place before embarking on your studies. Many students sometimes struggle financially and are unable to properly study or have to quit halfway through.
Can I work in Qom?
The Islamic Seminary students are not officially allowed to work and usually can not obtain a work visa. However, part-time jobs may be available for students in the form of translation work or other odd jobs. You should not rely on getting a job in Qom to finance your stay here.
Having said that, some students with savings do sometimes invest in property and have started small businesses such as restaurants or tourism services.
Does the Islamic Seminary provide Health Insurance?
Yes, all seminary students are provided with health insurance which covers basic medical costs. It may take 1 to 3 months before you receive your health insurance after arriving.
Does the Islamic Seminary provide a student stipend?
Yes, all student receive a monthly stipend. The amount of the stipend depends on the marital status and/or the size of the family. This stipend will help you with your living costs but is not enough to survive on. As students progress in their studies, the stipend does increase, but is still not a significant amount.
How can I transfer money to Iran?
Bank to bank transfers is not possible due to unjust international sanctions led by the United States of America. Yet, students can bring cash with them which can be converted to the Iranian currency.
What is the tuition fees at the Islamic Seminary?
The studies at the Islamic Seminary are free. Although, the students do have to pay minimum costs for books and should be able to finance their living costs.
Housing in QOM
Can I buy property or house in Iran as a non-Iranian?
Yes, it is possible to purchase property in Iran, you will need an trustworthy Iranian that cosigns the property ownership documents. There is a formal legal process to secure your property.
Generally, the Islamic Seminary teachers are helpful for their students in this process.
What should I know prior to renting a house?
Houses are typically not furnished and you will have to arrange for almost everything that you need, in some extreme cases even toilets and water taps. You may need some time to clean up the place, install carpets, curtains, and appliances, and it may take small renovations as per your need. Moving in may take about a week or more. We highly recommend having a temporary place to stay during your first few weeks.
Can I rent a place to live, how do I go about finding a place to live?
Finding a place to stay in Qom honestly isn’t that easy. SOQ volunteers are here to help. The typical way is to approach a housing agent in different areas of the city and see what’s available. Once you have found a place to stay, you will need to negotiate the deposit and rent. The process of renting a house is different from other parts of the world. Here landlords collect a fairly significant refundable deposit upfront e.g. 4,000 – 5,000 Euros. However, the monthly rent may then only be 10 to 100 Euros – depending on your house/apartment.
Can I get free university housing?
Free university housing may be available but it is not guaranteed and is subject to space and availability.
Life in QOM
Does Iran offer Citizenship to foreigners?
While the country’s law may include provision for such an arrangement, generally non-Iranians do not get Iran’s citizenship.
The children of non-Iranian parents who are born in Iran can apply for citizenship when they grow up here. Conditions apply. Please seek legal consultancy for further information.
Does Iran have an Internet service?
Yes, Iran has a decent 4G internet service.
Typical home internet speed is 7 Mbps.
4G internet is available on mobile phones as well.
I have kids, where can they attend schools?
There are a few English medium schools here, however they may not have space or meet the standards of education that you find in the Western countries.
There are very good public as well as private Iranian schools which generally have a very good standard of education. For young kids that have yet to start school, kindergarten/nursery starts at age 6 and class 1 at age 7.
If I don’t have my own car or motor bike, or a driving license how can I get around?
Street Taxis: Depending on your location, hailing a taxi down from the main street takes less than a minute, there are yellow cabs almost everywhere, and even people with their personal cars are willing to give you rides. The average cost of a taxi is less than 1 Euro.
Agencies: In every neighborhood in Qom there are official Agency Taxies where you would register your address and name. When you need a ride, you can call the Agency and they will be at your doorstep within 5 to 10 minutes. This is generally the safest option as the drivers are known and you can easily complain to the office in case of any incidents. The average cost of an agency taxi is generally less than 1 Euro, although slightly more expensive than Snapp (see below).
Snapp/Maxim/Cab30: The equivalents of Uber/Lyft/Careem, these are Iranian made apps and work just like Uber. This service normally works really well from most areas in the city, although sometimes it can be difficult to find a taxi through the app. The average cost of one of these cabs is less than 1 Euro.
Note that Uber or any other foreign-made apps do not work in Iran.
Public Bus: Depending on your route you may also be able to use the Public Bus service. Buses are clean and safe to use, they can sometimes get a bit crowded. The cost of public buses is less than 1000 toman (significantly less than 1 Euro). You can also get a bus card made for frequent travel.
Can I purchase and drive my own car or motorcycle?
Yes, you can purchase and drive a car or motorcycle. However, if you wish to drive, you’ll first need to get a driver’s license and then purchase a car or motorcycle. This is unlikely to happen within your first 6 months to a year in Qom. To start with we would recommend the public transportation services.
What is the weather and environment like in Qom?
Qom is considered to be a semi-arid climate with very beautiful urban landscaping, parks and recreation areas. And the city experiences 4 seasons where winters can get cold with temperatures reaching zero (Celsius). It rarely snow but it does rain time to time.
Summers can also get hot with temperatures hitting 40 Celsius.
Houses are very comfortable as there are gas or electric heaters in all places for the winter and air-conditioners or coolers for the summer.