Graduate Program


Graduate Program in Religious Studies

Admissions Information

The Graduate Program in Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University receives on average 70 applications per year.  Due to the intensity of our program and the individual guidance we provide to our students we are only able to accept 5-6 applicants per year.  We do not accept students based on their field of study or denomination.


Admission requirements are the same for both the M.A. and the Ph.D. degree programs:

  • B.A. or equivalent degree from an accredited institution
    • Cumulative GPA of 3.00 or above (4.00 scale)
  • Satisfactory score on General Test of GRE which is ordinarily a combined score on verbal and quantitative sections of 310 or above on the new test, or 1200 or above on the old test.  Current student averages are:  verbal 681, quantitative 627, combined 1308, analytical writing 4.5
  • Sufficient previous study in religion or related areas to prepare student to complete degree according to schedule.  We do not accept any transfer credits.
  • When English is not an applicant's native language, a satisfactory TOEFL score is also required:
    • Internet-based version, 79-80 or better (preferably 100 or better)
    • computer-based version, 213 or better (preferably 250 or better)
    • paper-based version, 550 or better (preferably 600 or better)

The M.A. degree and Ph.D. degree are two separate programs.  The M.A. is a terminal degree and is not a gateway to receiving a Ph.D. (credits will not be transferred).


Online application consists of:

  • Completed online application, available August 15-December 31 (we only accept applications in the fall of every year)
  • $75 application fee
  • Statement of purpose, usually one single spaced page
  • An official transcript from each school of higher education attended
  • Three statements of reference
  • Writing sample, 10-20 pages
  • Official GRE score report (SMU institution code: 6660; department/major field code for Religious Studies: 2904) - we accept scores up to five years old
  • International students must submit an official TOEFL score report unless they have received a degree from a US university or seminary

Application deadline for completed applications is December 31st.

Applicants do not need to secure the commitment of a faculty member to be their advisor as part of the application process, nor should they expect to do so.


How to apply:

Submit Online Application (available August 1 - December 31st).
  • Upload all supporting documents with your online application
  • Unofficial transcripts are acceptable during the review phase.  Official transcripts are only required upon admission.
  • Request official test scores from ETS (SMU code 6660).
  • Letters of recommendation should be submitted by your recommender using the online system.

Applicants can expect notification of their acceptance status by the last week in March.  If an applicant is wait-listed, he/she will be notified by April 16th.

New Meningitis Vaccine Requirement:  State Law effective Jan. 1, 2012: Any entering student at any Texas college or university who is under 30 years old must be immunized before attending classes (and must have received the vaccine within the preceding 5 years and at least 10 days prior to the first class day) or provide exemption information. Please visit the SMU Health Center web site for more information.