Tips for Applying

Baylor invites qualified applicants for admissions and research. The application cycle is extremely competitive, but if one has a deep, abiding passion for the subject area coupled with intellectual curiosity, Baylor may be a perfect fit.

Because of the number of applications, GRE scores have become very important in the committee’s first round of application reviews. Successful applicants generally score above the 90th percentile in the verbal and writing sections, and in the 70th percentile or above in the quantitative section.

An application will be reviewed as a cohesive whole. Of course, each applicant will present a series of strengths and some weaknesses. Grades can be uneven from one school to another, or from one professor to another, but they are usually indicative of one’s future success. Superior and excellent grades from past coursework are necessary to compete for a slot in the program. Applicants should be excelling at their present institution before applying to Baylor.

Good applications show a direction of research. One should present a knowledgeable understanding about the key players and shifts in respective fields. An applicant should show a growing mastery of the field in general. Several of the areas also require proficiency in research languages before admission.

As far as the autobiographical essay, the key is fit. Are applicants asking questions that other students and faculty are asking already at Baylor? How will they contribute to that ongoing discussion? Will they bring a wider aspect of the question? Will they help reshape the questions and sources?

On everything in the application packet, be as specific as possible. Vague answers and personal testimonies about the love of scripture tend not to show the competence needed for a successful doctoral student.

A note about references: the best references are written by professors with whom the applicant has had class(es), as well as a personal relationship. In fact, impersonal reference letters by established scholars are generally given less weight than those recommendations from other, perhaps less well known, faculty who know the character and abilities of the applicant.

Baylor especially welcomes diverse applicants in terms of gender, race, and ethnicity. The department unequivocally affirms the full equality of women in ministry and academia.

Vocational Considerations

Applying to enter a Ph.D. program represents a decision to pursue an intellectual vocation, but it has personal and family implications for one’s life for the next 5 to 6 years. It involves an extensive time commitment for completion of the program. Baylor’s location provides advantages, but does require relocation for many of our students.

Achieving a Ph.D. is the culmination of one’s academic trajectory. Completing a doctoral program represents the highest academic achievement a student can attain, but it requires a heavy workload (reading, research, and writing). For persons who enjoy this type of work, our Ph.D. program is very rewarding. Due to the rigorous nature of the program, however, it requires a full-time commitment, and residency in the Waco area is expected during coursework and strongly encouraged through the completion of the degree.

For a complete list of prerequisites and the admissions process, please click here.