Ph.D. Program Requirements

The Ph.D. program begins with 2 years of coursework (3 years for doctoral students entering directly from undergraduate studies). The program normally takes 5 years to complete, though some fields with significant language requirements may take longer.

Specific program requirements vary slightly based on the Field of Study you choose. Those requirements are listed below.

Requirements by Field of Study

American Religion

Major Field Requirements

  • Course Work: 3 seminars each semester
    • Students entering directly from an undergraduate program ordinarily will complete 6 semesters of course work (18 seminars)
    • Students entering with advanced degrees, such as M.Div. or M.A. in religion ordinarily will complete four semesters of course work (12 seminars)
    • At least 4 seminars must be completed in the field, including 1 in approaches to the study of American religion
    • Note: Courses aimed to develop reading knowledge of a foreign language are not counted in the course load
  • Languages
    • Before preliminary exams, students must demonstrate by examination either:
      • a reading knowledge of 2 modern languages relevant to their dissertation research, or
      • a reading knowledge of 1 modern language relevant to their dissertation research and a basic competence in quantitative methods.
  • Responsible Conduct of Research Training
  • Preliminary Examinations
    • 4-hour test in the general history of religion in America
    • 3-hour test in methods and materials particularly relevant to the dissertation topic
    • 3-hour test in inside minor
    • 3-hour test in the outside minor
  • Dissertation

Inside Minor Requirements

  • 2 courses

Asian Religions

Major Field Requirements

  • Course Work
    • Must focus studies on a particular religious tradition/region:
      • East Asian Buddhism in Asia and the diaspora from the 17th Century to the present
      • Japanese religions from the 17th Century to the present
      • South Asian religions, particularly non-Islamic traditions in South Asia and diaspora in the colonial and post-colonial periods
      • Chinese religions
      • Daoism
    • 4 Courses each semester for 2 years
      • Courses should be selected so that students will not be required to complete more than 2 major research papers in a single semester
  • Languages
    • Must demonstrate by exam a reading knowledge of 2 languages other than the student's native language (Choice of languages depend on focus on student's work.)
    • Expertise in the primary source language(s) associated with student's subfield will be demonstrated by either coursework or examination
  • Responsible Conduct of Research Training
  • Preliminary Examinations
    • 4-hour major field exam
    • 3-hour dissertation-area exam
    • 3-hour minor exam, normally inside minor
    • 3-hour additional minor exam, normally outside minor
    • 2-hour oral examination
  • Dissertation

Inside Minor Requirements

  • 2 courses

Christian Theological Studies

Major Field Requirements

  • Course Work
    • 3 courses a semester
    • With advisor approval, students may take additional courses
    • Students with advanced degrees will usually take 2 years of course work
  • Languages
    • Reading knowledge of 2 modern languages—normally includes either German, French or Spanish
  • Responsible Conduct of Research Training
  • Preliminary Examinations
    • 4-hour comprehensive exam in Christian Theological Studies
    • 3-hour internal minor examination
    • 3-hour external minor examination
    • 3-hour examination related to the projected focus of the dissertation
    • Note: Students may petition the convener of the area for an additional 2-4 hours to complete any exam. That request, however, must be submitted in writing 1 week prior to the beginning of the examination cycle.
  • Dissertation

Track-Specific Guidelines

 

Inside Minor Requirements

  • 2 courses

Early Christianity

Major Field Requirements

  • Course Work
    • 3 advanced courses per semester
    • Students entering directly from an undergraduate program will normally complete 6 semesters of course work, consisting primarily of doctoral seminars
  • Languages
    • Demonstration by exam and course work of reading fluency in Greek and Latin. For those intending to work in the fields of Eastern Christianity, a third language will be required and chosen from: Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Arabic, or Ethiopic
    • Demonstration by exam of reading competency in German and French (or a substitute modern European language)
  • Responsible Conduct of Research Training
  • Preliminary Examinations
    • Written general examination (Christianity from the 2nd to 7th Centuries), with the focus of the examination on the areas of the student's interest
    • Written examination on internal minor
    • Written examination on external minor
    • Written examination on dissertation area
    • Oral examination
  • Dissertation

Inside Minor Requirements

  • 2 courses

Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

Major Field Requirements

  • Course Work
    • 16 courses prior to Preliminary Exams
    • Efforts will be made to assure that a student has no more than 2 major papers in a single semester
    • Students are advised to take at least 1 course in each of the three parts of the Tanakh
  • Languages
    • Modern:
      • Students are expected to pass competency exams in German plus one of the following: French, Spanish, Italian, modern Hebrew
    • Ancient:
      • Biblical Hebrew, LXX Greek, Aramaic, and such other languages as are appropriate to the student's special interests. The Biblical Hebrew requirement will be met by written examination that measures competence in reading printed texts along with critical apparatuses. LXX and Aramaic competence will normally be met by course work.
  • Responsible Conduct of Research Training
  • Preliminary Examinations
    • 6-hour general test that will examine competence for teaching Tanakh and for speaking knowledgeably about the field as a whole
    • 3-hour examination on topics—current issues in biblical studies
    • 3-hour examination on dissertation area
    • 3-hour examination on minor area
    • Oral defense
  • Dissertation

Inside Minor Requirements

  • Language
    • 1 year of Hebrew
  • 1-2 courses, depending on if the student takes additional Hebrew

History of Judaism

Major Field Requirements

  • Course Work
    • 4 courses each semester for a minimum of 2 academic years
  • Languages
    • Classical language:
      • For students focusing in Late Antiquity, demonstration of reading fluency by 2 semesters of advanced course work in New Testament or Classical Greek or Syriac
      • For students focusing in the Medieval period, demonstration of reading fluency by 2 semesters of advanced course work in either Latin or Arabic
      • For students in Contemporary Judaism, demonstration of reading fluency by 2 semesters of advanced course work or exam in modern Hebrew or Yiddish
    • Modern language:
      • As demonstrated by exam and course work, reading competency in German and either French or a substitute modern European language
  • Responsible Conduct of Research Training
  • Preliminary Examinations
    • 4 written components: comprehensive, internal minor, external minor, and dissertation area
      • For students focusing in Late Antiquity, the Comprehensive Exam will cover the history of Jewish civilization from the Persian Period until the Arab conquest of Palestine
      • For students focusing in the Medieval period, the Comprehensive Exam will cover the history of Jewish civilization from the Maccabees until the expulsion from Spain in 1492
      • For students focusing in Contemporary Judaism, the Comprehensive Exam will cover the Enlightenment to the present
    • 1 oral component that reviews all four of the written exams
  • Dissertation

Inside Minor Requirements

  • 2 courses
    • Students are encouraged to select RELIGION 220 or RELIGION 221 as one of these courses

Islamic Studies

Major Field Requirements

  • Course Work
    • At least 3 advanced courses each semester for 2-3 years.
      • Students entering directly from an undergraduate program ordinarily will complete six semesters of course work
      • Students entering with advanced degrees, such as M.Div. or M.A. in religion ordinarily will complete four semesters of course work
    • All course work will be in doctoral seminars that result in major papers
    • Among the core courses all students are required to take are: Methodology and Pedagogy, Text and Society in Formative and Classical Islam, Hermeneutics, History and the Making of Authority in Islam, Modern Islamic Thought and Muslim Societies, and Theorizing Religion
  • Languages
    • Demonstration by course-work and written exam of proficiency in Arabic as well as one other Near Eastern, African or Asian language appropriate to the student's special interests.
    • Demonstration by written exam of competency in one modern European language, preferably French or German.
  • Responsible Conduct of Research Training
  • Preliminary Examinations
    • 4 written components:
      • General exam in Islamic thought
      • Exam in the dissertation area
      • Exam in the internal minor
      • Exam in the external minor
    • 1 oral exam that takes place after the written exam and reviews all 4 of them
  • Dissertation

Inside Minor Requirements

  • 2 courses

New Testament

Major Field Requirements

  • Course Work
    • For students entering with a Master's degree or equivalent:
      • 3-4 courses each semester for 2 years
      • At least 6 of these must be advanced courses in New Testament
    • For students entering without a Master's degree or equivalent:
      • 3-4 courses each semester fro 3 years
      • May, in the first year, include basic language courses or undergraduate/Divinity School courses
  • Languages
    • Modern:
      • Students must pass competency exams in German and French before taking their preliminary exams. Depending on interest, a reading knowledge of other languages such as modern Hebrew and Spanish may also be acquired.
    • Ancient:
      • Students are expected to have or develop good to excellent biblical Hebrew and ancient Greek, and to demonstrate competency in both languages. They may also study rabbinic Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Coptic, Latin, and/or other languages during their doctoral years.
  • Responsible Conduct of Research Training
  • Preliminary Examinations
    • 4-hour New Testament introduction examination (history, authorship, chronology, etc.)
    • 4-hour New Testament thought/theology examination
    • 3-hour internal minor examination
    • 3-hour external minor examination
    • Oral defense
  • Dissertation
Track-specific guidelines

Inside Minor Requirements

  • 3 courses

Religion and Modernity

Major Field Requirements

  • Course Work
    • 3 advanced courses per semester for at least 2 years
      • Students should select classes in a way that prevents more than 2 major research papers in any semester
    • With modernity as the primary problematic for their coursework and research, students are asked to situate their inquiries by identifying or adopting at least 1 of the following categories:
      • Religions (e.g., Islamic, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Taoist, etc., including derivative or counter movements)
      • Methods (e.g., historical, philosophical, cultural studies, performance studies, literary studies, theological studies, political theory, etc.)
      • Issues (authority, gender, race, communications, class, poverty, etc.)
      • Locations/Cultures (e.g., the Americas, Muslim societies, various "empires," South Asian cultures, etc.)
    • All in-coming students must take a graduate course dedicated to "Religion & Modernity” in the first year of their coursework
  • Languages
    • Must demonstrate by examination, a reading knowledge of 2 languages beyond English and a language of native competence. The choice of these languages will depend on the focus of the student's work. Otherwise, students will demonstrate reading competence in French and German.
  • Responsible Conduct of Research Training
  • Preliminary Examinations
    • 4-hour major field exam. Some of the readings for this exam will be drawn from the general bibliography in Religion & Modernity
    • 3-hour dissertation-area exam
    • 3-hour internal minor exam
    • 3-hour external minor exam
    • 2-hour oral exam based on all written preliminary exams
  • Dissertation

Inside Minor Requirements

  • 2 courses

World Christianity

Major Field Requirements

  • Course Work
    • 3 advanced courses per semester, consisting primarily of doctoral seminars
      • Students entering with advanced degrees, such as M.Div. or M.A. in religion typically will complete 4 semesters of course work
        Students entering directly from undergraduate programs typically will complete 6 semesters of course work Note: Courses aimed to develop reading knowledge of a foreign language are not counted in the course load
    • At least 1 course in each of 3 time periods (Students may also do one of their electives in Early Christianity, if they wish):
      • Christianity (600–1500)
      • Christianity (1500–1700)
      • Christianity (1700–2000)
    • In the 3 "time period" courses above, or among their other coursework, students will include study of at least 3 different geographical settings, such as: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, North America.   
  • Languages
    • Demonstration by exam and course-work of reading fluency in up to 2 primary source languages, as appropriate to the student’s area of concentration (examples: Latin, Greek, Coptic, Chinese, Syriac, etc.)
    • Demonstration by exam of reading competency in 2 modern research languages (German, Italian, French, Spanish, etc.) as selected in consultation with student’s advisor
  • Responsible Conduct of Research Training
  • Preliminary Examinations
    • General exam on major elements of the broad history of Christianity
    • Internal minor exam
    • External minor exam
    • Dissertation exam
    • Oral exam
  • Dissertation

Inside Minor Requirements

  • 2 courses