FAQ - The Application Process

How do I access the Divinity School's admissions application?

The application for all of the Divinity School’s degree programs is accessible online at http://apply-divinity.uchicago.edu/apply. We no longer accept paper applications. The application for each round opens in September for candidates seeking admission in the following academic year (e.g. the application for Autumn 2017 admission/matriculation opens in September 2016). AMRS applicants who will seek admission during Winter or Spring Quarter of a given academic year should make use of the new application but may certainly begin preparing and organizing materials prior to its launch. 


Do you require GRE scores?

In most circumstances, yes, the Divinity School requires a formal GRE score report for applications to each of the four degree programs. If you are an international applicant, and if English is not your native or primary language, then you should submit TOEFL or IELTS scores in lieu of GRE scores—although you may elect to submit GRE scores, instead, if you have studied for at least a year in a US college or university. Please note, though, that all applicants must submit scores for at least one of the aforementioned examinations. (For additional guidance on tests and scores, see the instructions in the online application.)


What are the minimum requirements for the GRE?

The Divinity School does not publish or maintain minimum scores for the GRE. The Committee on Admissions and Aid regards test scores as one piece of a larger and much more complicated application portrait, so while GRE scores can be a valuable predictor of readiness for graduate level work, they alone will not make or break an application. (See also the FAQ section on Degree Program Eligibility.)


Can I submit GRE scores for an exam taken some years ago?

The Divinity School considers GRE scores to be valid so long as they are no more than five years old on the date of the degree program's application deadline.


What are the minimum requirements for the TOEFL and IELTS?

The Divinity School’s primary language of instruction is English, so the capacity of international applicants (i.e. persons for whom English is not their native or primary language) to carry out their studies in the English language is of paramount concern. As such, the Divinity School hews closely to the standards published by the Office of International Affairs. The minimum score for the TOEFL iBT is 104 overall, with sub scores of 26 each. The minimum score for the IELTS is a 7, with sub scores of 7 each. For more information on English language requirements visit http://internationalaffairs.uchicago.edu/page/english-language-requirements.


For how long are TOEFL and IELTS scores valid?

The Divinity School accepts TOEFL and IELTS scores that are no more than two years old on the date of the degree program's application deadline.


May I apply for a waiver of the application fee?

There is a link to an application fee waiver request form on the instructions page of the online application. All fee waiver requests should be made using this form. The Divinity School grants fee waivers by virtue of extraordinary financial hardship or the applicant’s participation in one of a few service or fellowship programs (e.g. Teach for America, Americorps). The application provides guidance on submitting documentation of hardship/service/participation. In most circumstances, the Divinity School does not grant fee waivers for international applicants. 


I don’t see the payment interface for the application fee in the online application…

Once you submit the application, you will be prompted to pay the application fee.


Do I need to submit official transcripts or academic records with the application?

At the time of application, and for the purposes of committee review, you do not need to submit official academic records. Unofficial transcripts, or accounts of coursework, are sufficient so long as they list the names of courses, instructors, dates, and grades earned. Please note that if your application is successful, you will need to submit official records to verify admission. If you have already completed your prior degree, we recommend that you submit final, official records at the time of application. If you are in the process of completing your degree, you should wait until full, final records—that include the name and date of the degree—are available.


Can I submit a writing sample—in addition to the application statement—with my master’s application?

Beginning with the 2016 application round (comprising applications for matriculation in the academic year 2016-17), master's applicants have the option of submitting a writing sample of roughly fifteen (15) pages, typed and double-spaced. Whether you submit a writing sample is ultimately up to you, but we strongly encourage applicants to do so. 


Can you offer some guidance on the content of the application statement?

No matter the program to which you are applying, the statement should articulate your occasion for inquiry—including the questions or problems that motivate your pursuit of a graduate degree in religion, the aspects of your prior work (broadly construed) that recommend your success in the degree program to which you are applying, and an account of why you take the Divinity School to be a good context for your inquiry—and should be future-directed and inquiry-based. In other words, the statement is not exclusively an exercise in intellectual or spiritual autobiography; the statement should convey a sense of project and should evince the applicant’s preparedness for the pursuit thereof.

Depending on the degree program to which you are applying, there are a few particularities to keep in mind:

  • AMRS statements should offer an account of the applicant's motivation for seeking a degree in the academic study of religion, and they might discuss the ways in which the credential in religion/religious studies supports the applicant’s professional aims in her or his primary field of endeavor.
  • MDiv statements should discuss the applicant’s conception of ministry and might discuss aspects of one's discernment process and/or one’s prior experience as a public religious leader.
  • The MA statement might specify a general interest in religious studies, but, ideally, the statement will also offer a provisional account of the applicant’s scholarly agenda within, e.g., particular areas of inquiry, methodological trajectories, historical periods, and/or geographical terrains.
  • The PhD statement should be more refined/specific than a master’s level statement, but it need not (and in most cases should not) outline a supposed future dissertation project. It might describe probable qualifying examinations, faculty interlocutors, or research projects. If your proto-research agenda implies facility with particular languages (e.g. Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew, and/or Persian for a project in Islamic Studies; Koine Greek, Attic Greek, and/or Aramaic for a project in early Christian literature), the statement, and the application more broadly, should discuss your degree of facility/fluency therewith and your plans for additional work and development.


From whom should I solicit letters of recommendation?

In general, letters of recommendation should be academic in nature and should be from persons who know you well and can speak to your scholarly habits and strengths. For master’s applicants, undergraduate professors with whom you work(ed) closely are good options. MDiv applicants should include at least one letter from someone who can speak to their ministerial gifts, capacities, and experience. PhD applicants are encouraged to solicit letters from persons who can speak to their master’s level work. Students applying from life contexts wherein undergraduate or master’s level professors are not readily accessible or are not likely to remember the applicant’s work (e.g. second- or third-career students) might opt for letters from supervisors or colleagues, but should take care to specify to their referees that the letter should try to translate local, professional skills in to a ministerial and/or academic research context.


What happens if I submit my application before GRE scores, academic records, and/or letters of recommendation have been associated with my online dossier?

The Committee on Admissions and Aid will not review your dossier until it is complete, but you can formally submit the application prior to its full completion. The Divinity School will continue to process ancillary documents (academic records, test scores, and letters of recommendation) even after an applicant’s formal submission, and you should receive notification when outstanding documents become associated with the application.