Graduate Theological Union

M.A. FAQ


About the GTU

How does the GTU work?
The GTU is both a consortium of schools, institutes and centers and a degree-granting institution. Through the combined resources of nine member seminaries in close geographical proximity, students have access to the expertise of 126 full-time faculty members offering a wide range of courses. It is an ecumenical and interfaith union of resources brought together in a spirit of commitment and cooperation. The GTU also has one of the most comprehensive theological libraries in the country.

The GTU consortially confers the academic degrees of Master of Arts, Doctor of Philosophy, and Doctor of Theology. Each of the nine member schools offers professional degrees such as the Master of Divinity, Master of Theological Studies, and Doctor of Ministry.

What are the member schools and centers of the GTU?

The member schools of the Graduate Theological Union are:

  • American Baptist Seminary of the West
  • Church Divinity School of the Pacific (Episcopal)
  • Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology
  • Franciscan School of Theology
  • Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley
  • Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary
  • Pacific School of Religion (Multi-denominational)
  • San Francisco Theological Seminary (Presbyterian)
  • Starr King School for the Ministry (Unitarian Universalist)

Academic Centers

  • Center for Islamic Studies
  • Center for the Study of Religion and Culture
  • Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies

Affiliates and Institutes

  • Center for Arts, Religion, & Education
  • Center for Islamic Studies
  • Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences
  • Institute of Buddhist Studies
  • New College Berkeley
  • Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute
  • School of Applied Theology

 

What faiths are represented at the GTU?
GTU students and faculty represent the rich tapestry of American and Global religious traditions. Our member schools and faculty resources represent a range of Roman Catholic orders and Protestant denominations as well as Islamic, Jewish, Buddhist, and Orthodox studies. Individuals come to the GTU with diverse denominational, faith, and spiritual ties, including Episcopal/Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, United Church of Christ, Unitarian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Swedenborgian, Hindu, Seventh Day Adventist, Mormon, and others.

What is GTU’s relationship with the University of California at Berkeley? Is GTU part of UCB?
The GTU is a private institution, separate and independent of UC Berkeley. Nevertheless, we have an important “casual” cooperative relationship with UCB, allowing cross-registration in courses and library borrowing privileges at the University. UC Berkeley is just a block away from the GTU library and near seven of the member schools.

What is the difference between the GTU Common M.A. and the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) or other Master degree options offered by specific GTU member seminaries?
The GTU Common M.A. is primarily a research-focused, academically oriented degree designed to provide a breadth of knowledge for the advanced study of theology that incorporates an ecumenical design. It is a two-year program that requires certification in a modern foreign language and the writing of a thesis. Most people who pursue this degree would like to teach, research and write. The Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree is a three-four year professional program preparing persons for lay and ordained ministries and pastoral work. Each member seminary offers the M.Div. degree designed in accordance with the denominational affiliation of that school. Member schools also offer M.T.S. and proprietary M.A. degrees that may be more denominationally oriented, or match specific program strengths of that seminary on its own.

How many students are there at the GTU?
There are 125 students in the M.A. program, and there are 1,300 students enrolled in all of the degree programs offered by all of the member schools.

Can I visit the GTU? Can I meet with an Admissions Counselor?
Yes, we encourage prospective students to visit and acquaint themselves with our programs and facilities. The Admissions Office at each of the member schools can arrange for you to tour the campus and meet faculty and students. The GTU Admissions Office can also help you to arrange a visit. The GTU also hosts Prospective Student events, usually on a Saturday in October and in April. Contact gtuvisits@gtu.edu.

 


The Application Process

I’ve decided to apply to the Common M.A. program. How do I determine my school of affiliation and area of study?
Your school of affiliation will be your academic “home base” as a community as well as the home of your primary advisor. It is critical that you choose a school of affiliation where you can pursue your stated academic interests. What topics do you want to pursue in depth? Review the fields outlined for the MA program. Find out which faculty are interested in some of the topics you are thinking about. Talk with the Admissions Director at the school/s of affiliation that may interest you. Explore the web sites of the member schools. Finally, some students choose a school of affiliation based on denominational ties. If that is the case, select the field of study offered at the school that best fits your interests.

Where do I submit my application to the Common M.A. program?
You submit your application, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and test scores to the GTU Admissions Office, 2400 Ridge Road, Berkeley, CA 94709. The GTU will work in coordination with the member school selected as the school of affiliation to review and make decisions about the application. The GTU maintains your application file. You can also apply online and then submit transcripts and letters by mail.

What are the application deadlines?
Applications for fall are due February 1; applications for spring are due September 30.

Do I have to take the GRE exam?
Yes. M.A. applicants who have completed a bachelor’s degree at a school or university where English is the language of instruction must submit scores from the general Graduate Record Exam (GRE) taken within the last five years. This requirement cannot be waived, unless you have a Ph.D. in a humanities field. Applicants are generally expected to have a GRE verbal score of at least 150 unless there are extenuating circumstances. International students are required to submit TOEFL scores instead of the GRE.

I am an international student. Do I have different application requirements?
International students applying from a country in which English is not the official language must submit a TOEFL score from within the last two years. Applicants to the M.A. program are expected to have a TOEFL score of at least 79 (internet) 213 (computer) or 550 (paper).

If you are admitted to the GTU M.A. program you will need to certify sufficient financial resources to be granted the documentation necessary to secure a student visa. See the International Student information page for more details.

I have been out of school a while, so my academic references may be dated or difficult to obtain. Are professional recommendations acceptable?
It is crucial to have references that can attest to your ability to do scholarly work at the graduate level. If you have not been in school for some time, or for some reason you are unable to obtain recommendations from persons with whom you have studied, try to obtain recommendations from personal or professional acquaintances who have scholarly credentials and can attest to your academic abilities. This might be a clergy member with advanced degrees, or a supervisor from your professional endeavors.

Is it possible to do the M.A. and move into the Ph.D. as a single consecutive program?
No, the M.A. and Ph.D. are two wholly separate programs, each requiring a distinct application process. An M.A. or M.Div. is required for the doctoral program; admission to the M.A. does not guarantee admission to the doctoral program.

 


Financial Aid, Housing, and Other Options for Study

How much does it cost to attend the GTU?
See the current tuition and fees page.

What kind of financial support can I expect?
M.A. students receive scholarship, grant, and work study support from their member school of affiliation. Students can also apply for loans through the GTU Financial Aid office. Check the financial aid section of this web site for more information.

What kind of housing is available to GTU students?
M.A. students affiliated with a member school can apply for housing through that school’s housing office. Some member schools have dorm and apartment facilities, and all schools strive to assist students in obtaining housing. The Bay Area has one of the country’s most competitive housing markets, so it is smart to pay attention to this matter if you are relocating to study at the GTU. There are many helpful resources to assist you, beginning with those listed on the housing page of this web site.

Is it possible to take a course without enrolling in a degree program? I’m not sure if I want to pursue a two-year M.A. at this time.
If you would like to take a class you may do so as an “Unclassified” or “Special Student.” Once you know what class you would like to take, determine which school faculty member is offering the course and sign up through that school. If you are interested in a Jewish Studies course, you would sign up through the GTU admissions office. You may also be interested in pursuing a Certificate program, generally a year-long opportunity to take courses to explore an interest. Many member schools offer a certificate program. For information about the Certificate in Jewish Studies program go to the Other Study Options page.

Can I earn a degree via distance education or internet based programs?
The GTU does not offer any distance education or internet programs, although from time to time some member schools offer such opportunities.

Does GTU offer night, weekend, or summer classes?
The GTU offers classes at different times during the fall and spring semesters, including some night classes. There are also intensive classes offered in the January intersession, and during the Summer Session.

Is it possible to attend GTU part time?
The M.A. is designed for full time study, and we understand there are life circumstances that require some students to attend part time. During the M.A. program part time study must be approved by the Dean of the school of affiliation and the GTU Dean. Financial aid awards will be reduced in correspondence with the reduction in tuition.

 

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