Graduate Theological Union

M.A. Application Information

Applicants to the GTU Common MA program must have completed a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution by the time they intend to enroll in the program.


Application Deadlines & Instructions 

GTU Common MA Applicants: Prospective students are encouraged to submit their applications by the priority deadlines listed below in order to receive consideration for institutional grants. Though applications received after the priority deadline will be considered for admission, financial aid offerings may be limited after the priority deadline. 

Fall Priority Deadline       March 1st

Fall Final Deadline           April 1st

Spring Priority Deadline   November 1st

Spring Final Deadline      December 1st

Contact the GTU Admissions office for more information.  

Application Help and Forms

Quick M.A. Application Checklist (see below for details; click here for a printable checklist):

         — Select Department and Concentration of Study  
         — Select School of Affiliation
         — Complete and Sign Application Form
         — Submit Supporting Documents:
o   Statement of Purpose (300-500 words)
o   Official GRE or TOEFL Scores
o   Official Transcripts (from each previous institution)
o   Three Letters of Recommendation
         — Application Fee

Before You Complete the Application

Choose a School of Affiliation for your MA Program.
Determine which schools offer an MA in your field of interest. Don’t overlook the options of the specialized MA concentrations in Buddhist Studies, Islamic Studies, Jewish Studies, Orthodox Christian Studies, and Biblical Languages. Contact the school(s) with which you are considering affiliation and have a discussion with the Admissions Director to determine whether your sense of “fit” with the program is well founded. Explore with him or her whether your background and interests are suitable for their program.

The GTU Admissions Office can also help direct you to an appropriate school, but a conversation with admissions staff at the school, center or institute is strongly recommended. *See the list of admissions staff at the bottom of the page for schools of affiliation to contact to find out more about a particular school.

Components of the GTU Common M.A. Application

The Application form
You can apply online or with a paper form. Make sure to indicate your proposed department and concentration of study and choice of school of affiliation. Provide accurate contact information and include details on any prior language study and research and writing experience. You may attach a resume on a separate page if you like.

An Academic Statement of Purpose
The statement of purpose is not a personal biography, but a statement of goals that explains your academic study interests, and outlines the reasons the GTU, its faculty, and the school of affiliation are an appropriate place for the proposed program of study. This statement should be approximately 300-500 words.

Three academic letters of recommendation
Choose people who can speak knowledgeably and articulately about your academic and intellectual potential and will write specific letters. Academic references are different from general character references. Letters are requested by the applicant and submitted by the recommender via the online application system.  Forms are also available for downloading on this page.  If you do not use the online system, we suggest that your recommenders seal the letter in an envelope and sign across the seal, return it to you to send with your application materials, or if they prefer, they may send the letter directly to the GTU via email or hard copy. Inform them of the application deadline and provide them with the recommendation form as well as a stamped envelope addressed to: Admissions Office, Graduate Theological Union, 2400 Ridge Road, Berkeley, CA 94709. Email:

Official transcripts from each undergraduate and graduate school
Applicants are expected to have a minimum Grade Point Average of 3.0 (on a scale of 4.0) for the bachelor’s degree. Transcripts should show a range of undergraduate courses which demonstrate solid preparation in the humanities and some knowledge of religion. If an applicant is currently enrolled in a program, an in-progress transcript showing work to-date needs to be submitted. Upon admittance, final transcripts must demonstrate conferral of degree. An applicant should also list all post-secondary schools attended, with the most recent listed first. Official transcripts are sealed, unopened documents issued by the institution which bear the actual signature of the registrar and the seal of the institution. Institutions can also send official transcripts directly to the GTU's Admissions Department at

Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores and TOEFL Exam Requirements 
GRE or TOEFL scores are required. GRE scores are required of all applicants whose native language is English and will be accepted from those who have completed a degree at an institution where English is the primary language. Students are strongly advised to sign up early for the examinations, as scores take up to two weeks to be reported and available to the Admissions Committee. Applicants are generally expected to have a GRE verbal score of at least 150 and writing score of 4 or above, unless there are extenuating circumstances. For further information about how to register for these examinations visit GRE scores must be from tests taken within the last five years, and sent from the test companies in order to be official.

Note: As of August 1, 2011 the GRE is offering a revised test with a new score scale. There are test-prep materials as well as a discount on the GRE web site.

The GTU’s institution code is 4336.

International applicants from a country where English is not the official language must submit scores from the TOEFL examination rather than the GRE. Applicants to the M.A. program are expected to have a TOEFL score of at least 79 (internet-based) or 550 (paper-based) from an exam taken within the last two years. For registration information visit

Application fee of $40 
The fee should be sent in a check payable on a U.S. bank or by means of an international postal money order. Online applicants will pay the application fee when submitting the application via CollegeNet.

Jewish Studies Applicants
Applicants to the Jewish Studies MA program must submit a 10-page writing sample, preferably on a Jewish Studies topic.
*Member Schools, Centers, and Institutes

Students interested in the MA in Buddhist Studies should contact:

Dr. Scott Mitchell, Dean
Institute of Buddhist Studies
2410 Durant Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94707
Telephone: 510/649-2482

Students interested in the MA in Islamic Studies should contact:

Dr. Munir Jiwa, Director
Center for Islamic Studies
Graduate Theological Union
2400 Ridge Road
Berkeley, CA 94709
Telephone: 510/649-2562

Students interested in the MA in Jewish Studies should contact:

Dr. Deena Aranoff, Director
Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies
Graduate Theological Union
2400 Ridge Road
Berkeley, CA 94709
Telephone: 510/649-2482

Students interested in the MA in Orthodox Christian Studies should contact:

Metropolitan Nikitas Lulias, Director
Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute
2311 Hearst Avenue
Berkeley, California 94709 USA
Tel. 510/649-3450