image of text "Admission"

The items listed in the admission requirements checklist are all we need to review your application. We ask that you not submit any materials besides those requested below. Any additional materials that are submitted will not be considered as part of your application.

  • You are not required to submit all application materials together. However, we will consider applications only when all materials have been uploaded and received.
  • To insure a timely review, consider submitting your application well ahead of the posted deadlines. 
 What's Needed                               



 Online Application


 Application Fee (non-refundable)[1]




 Writing Sample


 Reading proficiency in one or more foreign languages

see note [2]

 Recommendation Letters - academic[3]    


 Recommendation Letters - ministerial


 Interview of Finalists


 Bachelor’s Degree


 Bachelor’s Degree, completed by June 1 of year of admission




 18 credit hours in theology, religion, or the equivalent[5]


 18 credit hours in theology, religion, or the equivalent; or evidence of 5 years working
experience, e.g., in ministry, teaching, administration, education[5]




 Application Essay


 [1] The application fee is waived for the following individuals: 1) Those who already hold a Villanova University degree (undergraduate or graduate). 2) Those who have attended a Villanova Event (open house, online or in-person information session). 3) McNair Scholars. We ask McNair Scholars to have their program administrator send a letter or email to us confirming your participation in the program.

 [2] If you have reading proficiency in one or more foreign languages (ancient or modern), please submit proof of that proficiency. “Proof” will consist of either official transcripts or commensurate proof of proficiency (for example, a certificate from the institution where the language courses were taken or a letter of attestation from a relevant instructor or professor).

 [3] Please contact us if you cannot meet this requirement.

 [4] Transcripts of all previous college work (undergraduate and graduate where applicable). Unofficial copies may be uploaded in your online application for review. Official copies are required for international applicants and for all applicants who receive an offer of admission. Have official transcripts sent to:

Office of Graduate Studies
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Villanova University
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085

 [5] We also welcome your application if you majored in other fields in the Humanities, the Social Sciences, the Sciences, Law, etc.

 [6] Please contact us if you do not meet this requirement. In some cases, exceptional applications with a GPA below 3.75 are considered.

 [7] One single, interesting, well-balanced, and academic essay of between 1200 and 1500 words that fully integrates your answers to the following questions while also demonstrating critical reflection, careful argumentation, and your best scholarly writing:

1. A Villanova Ph.D. in Theology and Religious Studies commits you to studying the intersection of faith and culture within the Catholic tradition. Which two or three texts have done the most to inform your interest in this intersection? How exactly have they done this?

2. A Villanova Ph.D. in Theology and Religious Studies also commits you to two areas of specialization. Which questions and/or readings have motivated your choice for these two areas? How will studying in these areas improve your ability to understand and/or address them? 

Application Deadline

Applicants seeking program admission (with or without assistantship) must submit a completed application by January 4, 2019

Admission of Applicants with Bachelor's Degrees

The program vision to educate persons in the Augustinian tradition of theological inquiry demands an admission protocol that gives preference to individuals with Bachelor’s degrees, which is a distinctive program feature. This particular protocol permits us to implement and maintain one of the most streamlined and concise doctoral programs in the country.

Admission of Applicants with Graduate Credit Work from Other Institutions

The program aims to attract students who wish to pursue theological studies within the Catholic and Augustinian tradition. At the same time, we must safeguard the identity of the doctoral program and assure that students have the competencies associated with being educated in that tradition. To that effect, we give priority to admitting to the combined Master’s/Ph.D. Program applicants with a Bachelor’s degree.

Still, whereas we primarily admit students with Bachelor’s degrees to the program, we will also recognize master’s level course work from other accredited institutions. Admission of such qualified students will be handled on a case by case basis, taking into account

  • the distribution of courses in the applicant’s degree program;
  • the applicant's preparedness for entering the program at an advanced level;
  • graduate program needs at Villanova (including course enrollment);
  • applicant’s preparedness for research and teaching in two primary theological disciplines; and
  • smooth integration with departmental program requirements at Villanova.

Given the above criteria, we will credit as many courses as feasible and responsibly possible toward the combined Master’s/Doctoral program but apply the following formula. Students who receive credit for

  • 3 to 9 credit hours of previous course work will be awarded the M.T.S. upon completion of additional credit hours of course work at Villanova (i.e., 39-45 Villanova credit hours plus transfer credits for a total of 48 credit hours).
  • 12 to 15 credit hours of previous course work will be awarded the M.A. (but not also the M.T.S.) upon completion of additional 33-36 credit hours of course work at Villanova (i.e., 33-36 Villanova credit hours plus transfer credits for a total of 48 credit hours). Students with transfer credits who wish to earn an M.T.S. must take a minimum of 39 Villanova credits.
  • 18+ credit hours of previous course work will be awarded the Ph.D. (but not also the M.A. or the M.T.S.) upon completion of additional credit hours of course work at VU (i.e., 78 credit hours minus transfer credits).

Admission to Area Combinations

Because learning in the program is governed by the interrelationship of two primary areas of theological inquiry, applicants are admitted to specific area combinations. However, we designed the program to permit you to change preferences within the first year of studies. With the second year, you will concentrate your studies in your chosen two primary areas of inquiry. Switching areas will still be possible, but will prolong your studies (because all area requirements must be fulfilled).

Studying Full-time or Part-time

The doctoral program is designed primarily for full-time study. Full-time students normally complete the program in six years.

Because of our goal to prepare students for both the academy and the profession (e.g., careers in secondary school education and ministerial leadership), we also admit a limited number of select students on a part-time basis. If you plan to study part-time you may take up to 12 years to complete all degree requirements for the combined Master's/Ph.D. Program.

However, University scholarships are awarded to full-time students only.

How Many Students Are Admitted?

We envision a small program that permits us to dedicate resources to fulfilling program outcomes responsibly.

The Graduate Program in Theology admits yearly four funded full-time students, selected competitively, to the program. We also admit a limited number of select self-funded full-time and part-time students. All students enter the program in the fall semester.

What Happens Next?

We will review all completed applications for full-time studies in January and aim to notify you of the status of your application during the course of February.

We will notify applicants for part-time studies of the status of their applications by mid-April.