FAQs

Q. Do I have to be Roman Catholic, or come from a Roman Catholic school, to be admitted?

A. Our students come from a diversity of denominational backgrounds, including Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, and other traditions. The faculty and student body are predominantly Roman Catholic, as is the thrust of the curricular offerings, yet from that standpoint the program is intentionally ecumenical in nature, and encourages all students interested in the study of theology to apply.

Q. Who makes the admissions decisions for the MA Program?

A. The area coordinators in consultation with the degree director make the admissions decisions.

Q. Is the admissions process competitive?

A. The M.A. degree program does not have tuition scholarships for which students compete. Thus, the number of students admitted to the degree program is not restricted to the availability of scholarship funds. Further, the faculty consider the M.A. degree program as a terminal degree. If a student is considering further work toward a Ph.D. in Theology, we suggest that he or she consider our M.T.S. degree program that tailors its learning goals toward those ends. The M.A. admission process is construed in such a manner as to determine which applicants are likely capable of doing the work. The GRE scores, for example, are good indicators of the likely success of a student to complete successfully the comprehensive exam.

Q. Once I receive my letter of acceptance from the Graduate School, what do I need to do?

A. The Graduate School requires that you write a letter to them indicating that you either accept or reject the offer of acceptance.

Q. How many students apply to the M.A. Program? How many students are admitted? Of these, how many are women, and how many are from historically under-represented groups?

A. There are currently about 60 degree-seeking students and over 200 non-degree-seeking students in the degree program. The student body is mostly made up of non-traditional, second career students.  About one-third of the students are women.

Q. How does the faculty and committee weigh the various aspects of my application, i.e., GRE scores, GPA and transcripts, letters of recommendation, and personal statement?

A. The core of the application is the profile created by the statement of intent, the letters of recommendation, and the GRE scores. Assuming the GRE and GPA meet our minimum standards, these are the most important parts of the application, and are decisive in terms of our admissions decisions. You should therefore draft your statement and choose your recommenders with care, so that we have the most clear and vivid sense of what kind of student you would be in our program. You may have up to four letters of recommendation.  The letters should speak to your ability to work in theology at the masters’ level.

Q. What are you looking for in the Statement of Intent?

A. Your statement of intent should be no more than two double-spaced typewritten pages, in normal font (Times New Roman 12).   In it, you should give us a clear and vivid understanding of how you came to be interested in the study of theology, why you want to pursue it at the graduate level, why you are interested in the area of study to which you are applying (i.e., Biblical Studies), and why you want to pursue the M.A. (Theology) degree at Notre Dame (in contrast to any other school).   A successful statement of intent will make the case that you clearly fit in the M.A. program at Notre Dame, and that you will both benefit from study here, and will make a positive contribution to the program.

Q. Is it necessary to have a major in theology or religion to be a serious applicant to the M.A. Program?

A. One of the advantages of the M.A. Program is that it allows us to admit students who have little prior experience in theology Applicants must have at least 6 credits in theology or religious studies before applying to the degree program. Indeed, we have had very successful students who come to us with math or science backgrounds or who are working in those fields, as well as students who come with backgrounds in theology and/or philosophy.  We have found that the diversity of backgrounds in the student body leads to a greater amount of peer learning.

Q. Where do most M.A. students come from, both geographically and in terms of academic background?

A. We draw students from all parts of the United States, as well as from China, New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, Ireland and Canada.

Q. I am an international student, not a citizen of the United States. Is there anything I need to do if I am accepted to the M.A. Program?

A. International students need to apply for a visa to come to this country to study. This office advises all international students on matters related to maintaining immigration status and offers other services such as issuance of I-20/DS-2019, and assistance in applying for employment authorization and change of status. http://issa.nd.edu/

Q. Although my primary interest is in Theology, I am also interested in other disciplines. Is it possible to take courses in other departments for credit for my M.A. degree?

A. The M.A. Program encourages students to take courses outside the Theology Department, both for elective and distribution credits, as well as for credit in your area of concentration. Although the bulk of your courses should be taken from Theology faculty, we encourage you to work with faculty from other departments and institutes in the university.

Q. Although I am interested in the possibility of doctoral work in the future, I am not sure I want to go on for a Ph.D. right away after the M.A. Should I still apply to the program?

A. If you are thinking about pursuing a Ph.D. after the M.A. degree, we strongly encourage you to consider pursuing the M.T.S. degree which is structured to provide the best preparation for those who wish to pursue a Ph.D. degree.

Q. I would like to study an intensive ancient or modern language this summer. What should I do?

A. Intensive languages - including German, French, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew- are taught every summer for all degree seeking master's students. Once you let the Graduate School know of your decision to come to Notre Dame, you may contact Betsy Karnes about how to register for the course.

Q. I would like information regarding on-campus graduate student housing. Whom should I contact?

A. All inquiries should be directed to the Housing Office, as our program does not handle housing. Please call the Office of Residence Life & Housing at (574) 631-5878 for more information

Q. Will a master's thesis be required?

A. The M.A. does not have a thesis requirement, as that usually necessitates a reduction in course load.