Graduate Theological Union
Ph.D./Th.D. Application Information
Degree requirements for Admission
- B.A. or B.S. degree from a fully accredited institution
- M.Div. or M.A. degree in Theology, Religion, or a closely related field
Before You Complete the Application
Take the time to think about these questions:
- What are your specific goals for pursuing a doctorate?
- What topics do you want to study and research in depth?
- How do your goals and interests fit with the GTU Areas of Study?
Determine the appropriate Area of Study
A critical factor for the faculty making the admissions decision is the “fit” between the student and the Area to which s/he is applying. “Fit” has to do with whether or not the specific program of study you have described matches well with our programs and our faculty resources. This means the Statement of Academic Purpose submitted as part of your application deserves special attention to its clarity, its focus, its demonstration of building on prior background, and its demonstration of a good match with the program.
Identify the faculty in the Areas of Study that most interest you and look up their current research, publication and teaching interests to see if there might be a connection with the kind of work you want to pursue as a scholar. The GTU Admissions office can also assist you in this process. Feel free to call 800/826-4488, 510/649-2460, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Application must be postmarked or submitted online by December 15 for consideration for the following fall semester.
- Application forms and fees
- GRE or TOEFL examination score reports
- Official transcripts from all previous post-secondary institutions
- Statement of Academic Purpose
- Academic writing sample
- Three academic letters of recommendation
- Worksheet: Clarifying Your Academic Goals (172KB PDF)
- Download an Application (fillable pdf)
- Download a Recommendation Form (fillable pdf)
- Apply Online
- Request Application and Catalog
- Special Procedures for Applicants to Joint Degree Programs
- Additional Information for International Applicants
Instructions for Completing the GTU PhD or ThD Application
The information included in this section enables us to establish applicant records efficiently for the admissions and financial aid process.
Degree Sought and Area of Study
GTU Doctoral programs are administered through Areas or fields of study, which function in a manner similar to departments in many institutions. The applicant must select one Area in which to be considered for admission, and will not be considered for admission to any other Area of study.
Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or TOEFL
All applicants whose native language is English are required to submit GRE scores from an exam taken within the last five years. Scores should be sent from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to the GTU Admissions Office (institution code 4336). We recommend that applicants take the exam by mid-November, as scores must be in by the end of December in order for the file to be considered complete.
International students applying from a country in which English is not the official language are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in place of the GRE. Scores must be from an exam taken within the last two years.
Academic and Professional Background
Ph.D. applicants must submit two (2) official transcripts of all college-level work. Th.D. applicants need only submit one copy. Official transcripts are documents issued by the institution which bear the actual signature of the registrar and the seal of the institution. If you are currently enrolled in a program, submit an in-progress transcript showing work to date. Please list all post-secondary schools you have attended, with the most recent listed first.
If you have previously attended either the GTU or one of its member schools, you must request transcripts from them as well; we cannot request them for you.
Most of the areas and topics of study in theological scholarship require research in modern languages and ancient texts. Please indicate your background in the languages in which you are proficient.
Provide information about your research and work experience useful in considering your application, and also list honors, fellowships or other commendations of note.
Statement of Academic Purpose
This should succinctly but specifically outline your goals and plans for doctoral level study, as well as your academic interests. A strong statement is one that articulates research objectives and envisions the main components of studies required in anticipation of the dissertation. A well-crafted statement should also clearly show how the resources of the GTU and your chosen Area of study would assist you in attaining the goals you have outlined. Finally, it should touch on your academic background (including language preparation), indicating how this foundation will contribute to your proposed further study. Part of the challenge of the statement is that it should be brief (300-500 words). This is a vital part of the application process, and should be typewritten and signed.
Letters of Recommendation
Note: Our online applications will send an email the recommenders you list asking them to submit a letter of recommendation, once you officially submit your online application.
To facilitate the timeliness of this process, you may submit your application and send your final statement of purpose to us later (by December 15) by email or post.
If you do not use the online system we suggest that your recommenders seal the letter and form in an envelope and sign across the seal, and either return it to you to send with other materials, or they can mail the letter to us directly. If recommenders prefer to send the letter directly to the GTU, 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.
Academic Writing Sample
This should be as close to 20 pages as possible, without exceeding that limit. The writing sample may be an essay written for the application, a paper submitted during coursework, or an excerpt from a paper or thesis. Please do not submit an entire thesis.
Ph.D. applicants submit two non-refundable fees:
- $40 check payable to Graduate Theological Union
- $80 check payable to Regents of the University of California (U.S. students)
(International students: $100 check payable to Regents of the University of California.)
If you apply online you will pay the GTU fee via credit card. Please send the additional check payable to the Regents of the University of California to the GTU with your other supporting documents.
Th.D. applicants submit one $40 check to the Graduate Theological Union.
Your name must be imprinted or written legibly on the front of the checks. Fees must be in U.S. dollars for all international money orders or checks drawn on a U.S. bank. DO NOT SEND CASH.
Information for International Applicants
International applicants to the Ph.D. program must:
Submit official records from each academic institution attended after secondary school. Official records are original documents issued by the institution which bear the actual signature of the registrar and the seal of the issuing institution. Photocopies are acceptable only if 1) each copy is signed by an academic official who certifies that it is an exact copy of the original document; and 2) it bears the seal and title of the authorizing official. Photocopies of the official’s signature, stamp, or seal are not acceptable. Note: Specialized diplomas or certificate programs recognized by governments abroad may not necessarily be recognized as equivalent to the requirements for an academic bachelor’s degree.
Submit official academic records in the original language, accompanied by English translations. Specially prepared English versions are not acceptable in place of documents issued in the original language. Academic records must show the dates of your enrollment, all subjects or courses, units, credits or hours, and grades in each subject. All records must include a complete description of institutional grading scales or other standards of evaluation with maximum grades and minimum marks indicated. Submit official evidence of the conferral of all degrees, diplomas, or professional titles and the date (month and year) of the formal conferral. These certificates should indicate the exact name of the degree, diploma, or title as it is known in the country of origin and not in American terms.
- Admitted students who plan to enroll complete a Certification of Financial Resources form for the GTU to review for consideration for the issuance of an I-20. Students at the GTU qualify for the F-1 visa.
Special Procedures for Applicants to Joint Degree Programs
Joint Doctoral Program applicants in either Jewish Studies or Near Eastern Religions apply to both the GTU and to UC Berkeley. You must submit a separate application form and separate supporting documents to each institution.
For the GTU application, submit:
- GTU Application Forms
- Statement of Academic Purpose
- Writing Sample
- One official copy of transcripts from all previous post-secondary institutions attended
- One official report of your GRE or TOEFL scores
- Three academic letters of recommendation
- Application fee of $40, payable to GTU
Application Deadline: Postmarked or submitted online by December 15 for consideration for the following fall.
To obtain information about the UC Berkeley application, go to the Graduate Admissions section at www.berkeley.edu.