Frequently Asked Questions

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

A. As the Department of Theology mission statement makes clear:  “Notwithstanding our identification with the Catholic tradition, we comprise a wide range of religious perspectives. While the department's central core is the Catholic tradition, the department is deliberately ecumenical; we are committed to dialogue with one another's traditions because theology can no longer be done adequately in a narrowly denominational manner.”  Our students come from a broad variety of denominational backgrounds, including Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, and other traditions. 

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

A. All of the faculty in the area of concentration to which you apply read all the applications to their area and meet in order to discuss the applications thoroughly and select potential students for their area.  The PhD admissions committee, which is made up of one faculty member from each area of concentration and the Director of Graduate Studies, then meets to decide the final list.  Some students may be invited to campus at our expense to meet with faculty, and some students are nominated in university-wide competitions for university fellowships.  Thus, the entire process takes a number of weeks.  Admitted students should receive a formal notification from the Graduate School by mid-March.  Please do not contact the PhD office until that time, as we will not be able to give you a definitive answer.  Note that all offers of admission you have (including financial aid) received from any North American graduate school are good until April 15.

Q. Is a writing sample required?

A. Writing samples are not required; that is, your application will be considered without one.  However, since most students do in fact submit one, it is recommended that you include one in your application as well.  Choose a writing sample that shows particular strengths that you would like to highlight:  for example, ability to read historical texts in their original language or do research in foreign languages.

Q. How long should my writing sample be?

A. The optimal length of a writing sample is fifteen to twenty pages.  You may submit a longer sample but should be aware that faculty may not have time to read it in its entirety.  Thus, if you do submit a longer sample it should have shorter subsections that demonstrate the sorts of skills that you would like the faculty to bear in mind when considering your application.

Q. Can I submit more than three letters of recommendation?

A. You may submit more than three letters of recommendation and they will be included in your file.  At least two of your letters of recommendation should be from people who can speak to your academic qualifications for doctoral work.

Q. Will files be considered if they are missing a letter or recommendation or official GRE scores?

A. To receive fullest consideration, files should be complete. 

Q. Do I need to fill out a separate form to apply for financial aid?

Beyond indicating that you would like to be considered for financial aid on the on-line application form there is no further form to fill out.  In general, we provide all students who are admitted with a tuition scholarship and a living stipend.