The following elements need to be included:
- Online application
- Current GRE scores
- TOEFL or IELTS scores, if applicable
- Curriculum vitae
- Statement of purpose
- Scholarly writing sample of 20-30 double-spaced pages
- Transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate study
- Two (ideally three) letters of recommendation from academic mentors
To complete an online application or learn more about graduate programs at Northwestern, please visit the Graduate School.
The writing sample and statement of purpose are of particular importance to successful applications in all areas. These are normally submitted electronically, but if illustrations or special fonts cannot be uploaded onto the electronic application, they may be sent directly to the departmental Graduate Program Assistant either by PDF attachment or by regular mail.
The writing sample is a published or unpublished academic paper of about 20 to 30 double-spaced pages (article length). It should be a student’s best example of scholarly work to date; it need not reflect the student’s current area of interest precisely. Edited undergraduate theses, chapters of masters' theses, or seminar papers make good submissions. It may be accompanied by a brief explanation of its context and of the parameters provided for the original assignment.
The statement of purpose is essential for determining the fit between applicants and our program. The personal statement is a short essay (three or four double-spaced pages) that sketches a student’s proposed area of research, perhaps describing briefly studies that have formed the student’s interests. It should explain how Religious Studies' faculty is suited to the applicant’s goals, indicate another department and/or cluster in which the applicant would like to study, and name some faculty members in that program with whom the applicant would like to work.
The bulk of the statement should outline the region of research the student hopes to pursue in the dissertation, the disciplines and methods the student wishes to develop, and the approach that will guide the student's future teaching and academic research career.
Research interest: how ultrasound images shape Jewish women's theological and moral understandings of their fetuses
Method: Jewish law, medical ethics, and anthropology
Career plan: teaching and writing in Jewish bioethics, with a strong emphasis on the role experience plays in communal and individual moral discernment
Research interest: the interaction of European and Latin American immigrants in Roman Catholic parishes
Method: historical and sociological investigation, including ethnography
Career plan: teaching and writing about ethnicity in American religion
Research interest: the different ways in which Islamic education is shaping the moral and political views of Muslim children in Sudan and in Kenya
Method: ethical analysis; anthropology
Career plan: teaching and writing on contemporary Islamic thought and culture, with an emphasis on Islam in Africa
Research interest: changing notions of religious conversion in the late Middle Ages and Reformation
Method: historical, theological, and literary analysis, with a command of paleography and related research tools
Career plan: teaching and writing medieval/Reformation history in either a secular or a denominational program of religious studies
Research interest: the use of the themes of evolution and natural selection in four Protestant ethicists, two pre-WWII and two post-WWII
Method: theology, intellectual history, cultural studies
Career plan: teaching modern and contemporary Christian theology and ethicsBack to top