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

*Note: the online application does not yet reflect the new MA curriculum. Please select the area of interest most aligned with your own and include your intended department and concentration in your statement of purpose. 

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. We also now feature a concentration in Interreligious Studies. 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 a stamped envelope addressed to: Admissions Office, Graduate Theological Union, 2400 Ridge Road, Berkeley, CA 94709. Email:

Two 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 Director of Admissions, Dr. Andrea Sheaffer:

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 or 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 unless there are extenuating circumstances. For further information about how to register for these examinations visit 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) 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.
New and Exciting Opportunity for MA applicants in Jewish Studies!
The Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union and the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies are pleased to announce the establishment of a new fellowship for students pursuing an MA in Jewish Studies at the GTU, with supplementary studies at the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem.
Berkeley-Jerusalem Fellowship Terms for 2016-2017:
The Berkeley-Jerusalem fellowship covers tuition for up to 24 units taken in the academic year 2016-17. The fellowship also provides funds for a term of study at the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem. Fellows may choose the five-week summer program or the semester program. Fellows receive additional funding for travel expenses and language study.

If applying for the Berkeley-Jerusalem Fellowship program, please submit application materials by the MA application deadline. To apply for the fellowship, applicants should submit the following in addition to the required 10-page writing sample: 

  •  A 500 word essay: Studies at the GTU and the Pardes Institute allow students to combine critical approaches to Jewish history and literature with classical rabbinic literacy. Please describe how this combination of academic and rabbinic studies will contribute to your long-term goals. 

These items should be sent in with your online application, or to the GTU Admissions Office either electronically to; or in hard copy to GTU Admissions, 2400 Ridge Road, Berkeley, CA. 94709.

If you would like more information or have any questions about the Berkeley-Jerusalem Fellowship, please contact please contact CJS (510/649-2482, or Andrea Sheaffer in the GTU Admissions Office (510/649-2465).


Send applications and all materials to:
Admissions Office
Graduate Theological Union
2400 Ridge Road
Berkeley, CA 94709

Telephone: 510/649-2460 or 800/826-4488

*Member Schools, Centers, and Institutes

Students interested in the MA in Buddhist Studies should contact:

Dr. Richard Payne, 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. Naomi Seidman, 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