Graduate Study

Coursework and Requirements

Each of the three Ph.D. areas has the same general five-part structure: 1. Residence (coursework); 2. Satisfaction of Qualifying Requirements (languages, subject-specific competencies, theory and method); 3. Teaching Preparation; 4. Preliminary Examinations; 5. Dissertation (Prospectus and defense, actual dissertation; final public oral examination).

All students are required to complete the equivalent of three years (six semesters) of full-time study beyond the baccalaureate degree (i.3. twenty-four tuition units). Up to one full year of graduate work done in residence at other institutions and not used in fulfillment of the requirements for the Ph.D. elsewhere may on the recommendation of the department faculty and with the approval of the registrar, be counted in fulfillment of this requirement.

Students will normally develop their course of study in consultation with the faculty in their area and as necessary with the Director of Graduate Study.  All students are required to take RELS 2000, a seminar on "Theory of Religion."  We encourage students to work and develop professional relationships with faculty outside of the Department who focus in cognate areas.


In addition to coursework, all doctoral students are required to satisfy various qualifying requirements prior to taking the Preliminary Examination.  In addition to RELS 2000, students are expected to demonstrate various other competencies and methods, which may depend upon a student's prior training.  Specifics are established with the area faculty at the beginning of each student's program of study.  


All students are required to demonstrate competency in two modern foreign languages, typically French and German. This requirement can be fulfilled through either appropriate coursework or examination. Depending on the student's program and interests, other modern languages may also be required: for specifics, see the page for the specific program or consult the Handbook.

Students in ART and RAM are required to demonstrate competency in various additional languages, depending on their specific areas of concentration; for specifics, see the page for these programs or consult the Handbook.  Students must complete all language requirements prior to taking their Preliminary Examinations.


Each program has designed its exams to help its students acquire specialized expertise as well as disciplinary breadth. Due, in part, to the differing professional expectations of their exams in each of these areas, the different programs vary somewhat in the format and expectations. For specific requirements of a track, please consult the corresponding web page, or the Handbook.