PhD Application Information

See also: PhD ProgramGraduate Handbook | SGS Calendar 

The DSR will waive application fees for a limited number of students from the global south, based on financial need, diversity considerations, and contingent on the support of one of our faculty members. Please inquire for further details ( 

The Department admits applicants only in September. The deadline for September 2024 admission has passed.  The deadline for the receipt of completed applications for September 2025 admission is December 13, 2024.  


December 13:  Deadline to complete online application
Mid January-late February: Department reviews files and makes admission decisions
by March 1:  First round of offers sent out
April 15: Deadline for response to first round of offers of admission
by Late April: Second round of offers sent out
Mid May: Deadline for response to second round of offers of admission
by May 31: All final admission decisions will be communicated

To be eligible for admission to the doctoral program, applicants must normally have an MA in the academic study of Religion (at least 4Y equivalent), preceded by an appropriate undergaduate degree with specialization in Religion or in cognate subjects, with courses broadly equivalent in number and distribution to the University of Toronto’s Specialist program in Religion (10Y equivalent; see admission to the MA). They must also have suitable language preparation and an average of at least A- in their MA courses, with no individual grade falling below B. In practice, students admitted tend to have A averages. In interpreting equivalency in an applicant’s previous course work, the Department considers the aggregate of the applicant’s study at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

The Department considers the MDiv degree to be a professional degree in Theology, and not equivalent to an MA in Religion.

Students will need to have language preparation that enables them to meet the language requirements of the doctoral program within the normal expectations of time. In practice this usually means that the students admitted must have already achieved competence in at least one language of modern scholarship and at least one source language where applicable. Students who would like to pursue doctoral studies in Religion in this Department are advised to provide well in advance for appropriate language study in their BA and MA programs.

In the rare case where a student is admitted without sufficient breadth or quantity of course work in Religion or without appropriate language preparation, she or he will be asked to take additional study, either before admission or during an extended doctoral program as stipulated in the offer of admission.

Please note that the online application for September 2025 admission will be available in early October.  You may access the online application here.  The Department uses a self-administered application process which includes an online application form.  Applicants are required to complete the online application form, make their application payment, arrange for 3 reference letters, and upload scanned copies of their transcripts.

Complete applications consist of:

1. Scanned copies of all previous post-secondary transcripts

2. A statement (three pages maximum) of proposed study: This must include a statement indicating a possible thesis subject and knowledge of languages, a brief summary of theoretical and methodological training and interests, and an indication of potential committee members, as well as an indication of why the Department is a suitable place for graduate study in the intended area. Below are statements from successful past applicants.

PDF iconSample PhD Statement 1.pdf

PDF iconSample PhD Statement 2.pdf

3. A brief academic CV, with details of education, awards, and other information of academic interest.

4. All doctoral applicants are also requested to submit a brief writing sample of between 20-40 pages.

5. Three reference letters.

Students currently enrolled in the MA program of the Department who wish to apply for admission to the PhD program must apply like all other students but are not required to submit transcripts.

Students in graduate programs in other universities who wish to study in the Department may apply through the Ontario Visiting Graduate Student program. Such applications must be accompanied by a supporting letter from the graduate department in the University in which the student is enrolled.

Please note that it is the student’s responsibility to assemble all application materials and ensure that they arrive at the Department by the applications deadline.

6. English Facility Requirement

If your primary language is not English and you graduated from a non-Canadian university where the language of instruction and examination was not English, then you must demonstrate your facility in English using one of the following methods. This requirement should be met at the time you submit your application.

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB)
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • The Certificate of Proficiency in English (COPE)
  • U of T School of Continuing Studies Academic Preparation Course

For further details, please visit the SGS English Proficiency Testing page.


Additional tips for applying:

  • If you are a first-time applicant, click the link to Create an Account to begin your application. You will receive a verification code via email as part of the account creation process. After entering your verification code, you will create a password for your account.
  • You may save and return to the application at any point in the process.
  • You will be required to enter information for 3 referees. Your referees will automatically receive a notification email that they have been requested to complete a reference for your application, along with instructions to submit their reference letter in the application system. 
  • If you need to change your referees, please get in touch with the graduate administrator.
  • If you need to send a reminder email to your existing referees, you can do so through your applicant portal after submitting your application.
  • To view the status of your application, including outstanding requirements, please log in to your account to view your applicant status portal. 
  • You can upload application materials, including unofficial transcripts, statements of intent, writing sample, and CV, through your applicant status portal after submitting your application.

At the doctoral level, programs of study are thesis-driven from the point of admission onward. Students are asked when seeking admission, and again at the time of first enrolment, to indicate a possible thesis subject. Extraordinary care is taken to offer admission only to applicants of the highest academic achievement, and whose possible thesis subjects can be matched with the expertise of at least three professors, who will be available for supervisory guidance.

Students thinking of applying for admission to the Department are advised to consider thoroughly the research topics and teaching interests of Department faculty members when formulating their statements of intended study. Consultation of the academic profiles of the Department’s faculty—as annually updated and published on the DSR website and in the Graduate Handbook—is therefore strongly recommended. It may also prove instructive to review the list of completed doctoral theses that Department faculty have supervised, available on our website. Prospective students are also encouraged to make direct contact, by email or telephone, with professors whose research interests appear to correspond or overlap with the intended area of inquiry.

The Department strives to admit the most qualified students, while at the same time securing a manageable distribution of students around a range of topics and areas of specialization. The current policy provides for the admission of  between eight to twelve new doctoral students each year. The effects of these policies may mean that some highly qualified applicants are not offered admission.

Students needing to undertake prerequisite undergraduate work are directed to apply for special student status via the Enrolment Services office, 172 St. George St. , phone: 416 978-2190, email

Students primarily interested in theological study and formation for ministry in one of several Christian traditions are referred to the Toronto School of Theology, 47 Queens Park Crescent East, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2C3, phone: 416-978-4039