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Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology

Admissions FAQ’s

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1. Are lay people welcome to enroll? 

2. Do I have to be Catholic to attend DSPT? 

3. Is DSPT faithful to the Catholic tradition? 

4. I'm interested in going on to a doctoral program. To what programs have DSPT graduates been admitted?

5. I've been out of school for a long time. Am I too old to study at DSPT? 

6. My undergraduate degree is not in philosophy or theology. Can I still apply?

7. What is the relationship between the GTU and DSPT?

8. What do DSPT graduates do with their degrees?

9. I am not ready to commit to a degree program. Can I take classes at DSPT without applying to a program?

10. Is it possible to attend DSPT on a part-time basis?

11. How does the DSPT MA Theology program differ from the GTU Common MA?

12. Can I transfer units from another school into a DSPT degree program?

 

1. Are lay people welcome to enroll? 

About 70% of our students are lay men and women.

2. Do I have to be Catholic to attend DSPT? 

Although most of our students are Roman Catholic, we often welcome students from the Orthodox churches, many Protestant denominations and other faith traditions, as well as students without any religious affiliation. Classes at the GTU often have students from many different religious backgrounds or none at all.

3. Is DSPT faithful to the Catholic tradition? 

This is demonstrated in the report issued by the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, which followed an Apostolic visitation of DSPT:

The syllabi of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology refer to Church documents and classical theologians plentifully, thus reflecting a serious intention to think with the Church. There is no doubt that the students are taught to love and to be faithful to the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church.

"A serene sense of confidence in the value and usefulness of the Magisterium's teaching and its central importance for those who are learning theology prevails. St. Thomas is given pride of place in many of the philosophy and theology courses, though at the same time the best of contemporary sources is also in evidence.

The students seem to know the issues involved in the contemporary crisis of subjectivism and moral relativism, and are adequately trained to provide a response based on reason and affirming the existence of moral and philosophical truth.

The seminarians most certainly show apostolic zeal. They also have an authentic 'Catholic spirit' with a genuine love for and dedication to the universal Church. 

4. I'm interested in going on to a doctoral program. To what programs have DSPT graduates been admitted?

Our graduates have been accepted to top doctoral programs in North America and Europe in fields such as philosophy, theology, religious studies, history, literature, art history, Near Eastern languages and cultures, and film.  Among recent (5-7 years) MA graduates who applied to doctoral programs, 90% were accepted.  Here is a sample:

Arizona State University, California Institute of Integral Studies, Catholic University of America, Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium), Duke University, Graduate Theological Union, Indiana University at Bloomington. Northwestern University, Notre Dame University, Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Rome), Purdue University, St. Louis University, University of California at Berkeley, University of California at Los Angeles, University of Fribourg (Switzerland), University of Geneva (Switzerland), University of Munich (Germany), University of Notre Dame, University of Texas at Austin, Yale University

Our graduates have also been accepted to law schools, nursing schools, and other types of programs.

5. I've been out of school for a long time. Am I too old to study at DSPT? 

While DSPT has the youngest student population of any other GTU school, the average age of our students is 35. We do have many younger students recently out of college, but we regularly receive applications from working professionals interested in a career change or who simply want to augment their professional training with philosophical or theological studies. Our students include teachers, doctors and nurses, architects, artists, photographers, research scientists, engineers, deacons, priests, religious sisters, lay ministers, and more.

6. My undergraduate degree is not in philosophy or theology. Can I still apply?

Although some background in philosophy or theology is helpful, we receive many applications from people who studied other subjects in college, from English or Political Science to Physics or Mechanical Engineering. All that is required is a Bachelor's degree, in any subject, from an accredited institution. Students who lack formal study in philosophy or theology may want to apply first as a Special Student or to the Certificate of Theological Studies program, both of which allow them to explore their options before choosing a degree program.

7. What is the relationship between the GTU and DSPT?

DSPT is one of eight member schools and twelve affiliated institutes that together make up the consortium known as the Graduate Theological Union. Each member school offers its own degree programs and participates in the GTU Common MA program, and many DSPT faculty serve as doctoral faculty for the GTU. Each member school has its own character, but all share a common library, registrar, financial aid office, and other services. A student at one GTU school is encouraged to take courses throughout the GTU as well as at UC Berkeley.

DSPT is the only member school that offers programs in philosophy as well as theology and has its own MA Theology program in addition to participating in the GTU Common MA program.  The DSPT is an invaluable member of the GTU community, offering rigorous courses spanning the entire Western tradition. More GTU students take classes at the DSPT than at any other GTU member school.

8. What do DSPT graduates do with their degrees?

Our students come from many different backgrounds and join us for a variety of reasons. The most common paths taken are doctoral study, teaching (high school and college), higher education administration, parish or diocesan ministry, campus ministry, youth ministry, and non-profit work. However, we also have students and graduates who work in the business world and in the legal and medical professions who seek to apply their training in philosophy and theology to their careers.  An education in philosophy and theology is versatile, emphasizing critical thinking and effective communication skills needed in every profession.

9. I am not ready to commit to a degree program. Can I take classes at DSPT without applying to a program?

Yes. Some prefer to apply as Special Students or to the Certificate of Theological Studies program to get started. These are excellent ways to "get your feet wet" without having to choose a specific degree program right away. Special Student and Certificate courses typically can be applied to a DSPT degree program later, as long as they fulfill requirements for that program. Applications to these non-degree options can be accepted all the way up to the start of each semester, so they are also good options for late applicants.

10. Is it possible to attend DSPT on a part-time basis?

Many of our lay students are part-time commuters. The normal allowable time to complete a degree program is twice the full-time duration. For example, a part-time student in an MA program would normally have to complete the program within 4 years; a part-time MDiv student would have 6 years.

11. How does the DSPT MA Theology program differ from the GTU Common MA?

DSPT is the only GTU member school that offers its own MA Theology program in addition to participating in the GTU Common MA program. Both require the completion of 48 units, including a foreign language exam, a written thesis, and a thesis defense. Minor differences are found in the distribution of courses. For example, GTU MA students must take one course in each of the areas of Biblical Studies, History, Systematic Theology, and Ethics; DSPT MA students must take all of these plus a course in Moral Theology and a course in a non-Christian religious tradition. The DSPT MA program allows for more electives.

The GTU MA program is designed to take full advantage of the ecumenical and interfaith opportunities offered at the GTU, and as such it is more like a religious studies program than theology. GTU MA students are required to take five classes outside of their own school of affiliation, while DSPT MA students are encouraged but not required to do so. Students in both programs are free to take classes throughout the GTU and at UC Berkeley.

Those who choose the DSPT MA Theology program are generally looking for a more systematic training in theology, specifically rooted in the Catholic tradition. Those with philosophical interests find that DSPT is the best option at the GTU: over 80% of GTU philosophy classes are offered here, and many DSPT theology classes include a strong philosophical component.

Tuition rates may vary between the two programs.

In both cases the DSPT and the GTU are listed on the diploma, though it is formally granted by one or the other institution.

GTU MA applicants must choose a particular school of affiliation which will serve as their "home base" for the duration of their program, and we welcome those who are interested in affiliating with DSPT.

12. Can I transfer units from another school into a DSPT degree program?

We can accept up to half the units (coursework only) in a given program from outside the DSPT, as long as they are from an accredited institution and satisfy DSPT program requirements. For example, we can accept up to 21 units toward the MA Theology or MA Philosophy programs, more for the Concurrent MA program. Transfer requests must be made by petitioning the Academic Dean and may require the approval of the Admissions Committee in certain cases. Since a single course may not be applied to two different degrees, units that counted toward a degree at an outside institution may not be transferred.

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