How to Apply

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation allow your former professors and mentors to speak candidly about your academic performance and your suitability for graduate-level study. They can be used to address factors not usually "visible" in your academic transcripts or test scores, thus rounding out your application and providing the Admissions Committee with important information that cannot be quantified. Applicants should select their recommenders carefully and follow up with them to make sure the letters are sent on time.

Whenever possible, letters of recommendation should come from academic faculty familiar with your academic work, except for the MTS program which requires at least one professional recommendation. Academic references are especially important if you are applying to a research program.

Letters must be accompanied by the Letter of Recommendation Form pdf unless an applicant is applying online, in which case letters will be submitted electronically. The applicant may choose whether or not to waive access to the recommender, but we strongly suggest that you do so. Paper letters should be sent directly to the Admissions Office and have the recommender's name signed across the envelope seal.  Online applicants must be aware that email requests for letters will not be sent to recommenders until the online application is actually submitted, so this should be done as early as possible to ensure that recommenders have sufficient time to complete them before the application deadline.

Most DSPT programs require three (3) academic letters of recommendation, with the following exceptions:

Master of Divinity (MDiv): Two (2) academic recommendations and one (1) pastoral recommendation. The latter should come from someone familiar with your pastoral or ministerial experience and goals, such as a pastor or ministry supervisor.

Applicants who are members of the Western Dominican Province are not required to submit letters of recommendation. Applicants from other religious communities or Dioceses must submit a letter from their Provincial, Bishop, or Congregational leader.

Master of Theological Studies (MTS): At least one (1) letter must come from someone with direct supervisory knowledge of the applicant in a professional setting.

Certificate of Theological Studies (CTS): Two (2) letters of recommendation, preferably from academic sources, but one (1) of them can be from a pastoral source.

Special Student Status: One (1) letter of recommendation, either academic or pastoral.

If you have any questions about choosing recommenders, please contact the Admissions Office at (510) 883-2073, or by email at