Please consult these FAQs for more information on our program. They are grouped by the following topics:
Q. What are the requirements to begin the MA in Theology program?
A. 6 credits of pre-requisites in Theology are required before becoming degree-seeking. Students applying to start the Summer session will apply in the Spring here (applications are due April 15). We strongly encourage degree-seeking students to begin in the summer.
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. 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. 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. Who makes the admissions decisions for the MA Program?
A. The area coordinators in consultation with the degree director make the admissions decisions.
Q. What is the difference between the M.A. and the M.T.S. Programs?
A. The M.A. Program does not prepare you for further theological studies, such as a Ph.D. The M.T.S. degree, however, prepares you for such further studies.
Q. Are there any cases in which the GRE can be waived?
A. Yes! The GRE can be waived when the applicant already possesses any one of the following degrees: MD, JD, or PhD. It can also be waived if the applicant has a GRE score less than 5 years old.
Q. Can I transfer credits from a previous institution?
A. Yes, you can transfer up to 6 credits from an unfinished degree at another institution, or up to 9 credits from a completed degree.
Q. How do 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. 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. 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. The International Student and Scholar Affairs 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.
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 for graduation?
A. The M.A. does not have a thesis requirement, as that usually necessitates a reduction in course load. In lieu of a thesis, however, students must successfully pass a Comprehensive Exam once their course work is complete.
Q. Can I audit a course?
A. The University does not allow audits during Summer Session or when taking a course off-campus, including the on-line option.
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.