Graduate Study


*The Department of Religious Studies at Brown joins in solidarity with other departments and universities that are pausing graduate admissions this year (2020-21). The Department and Brown University more broadly have made this decision so that we can offer additional support, including financial resources, to our current students who are facing a variety of challenges due to COVID-19. Doctoral studies in the Religious Studies Department is central to our identity, and we look forward to resuming admissions next year.

 Stephen Bush, Director of Graduate Studies

The graduate program in Religious Studies at Brown is one of the finest in the nation. From among a large pool of highly qualified applicants, the department admits four to six doctoral students a year. Our students receive five years of full funding; additional funding is possible but not guaranteed. The department's graduates have an excellent placement record, teaching in such institutions as Harvard, Stanford, Indiana University, University of California, Brooklyn College, Reed College, Haverford, and University of Wisconsin (Madison). Current graduate students have distinguished themselves by presenting papers at international conferences and earning recognition and support from prestigious external funding organizations.

We offer Ph.D. studies in four areas: 

  1. Asian Religious Traditions (ART)
  2. Islam, Society and Culture (ISC)
  3. Religion and Critical Thought (RCT)
  4. Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean (RAM) (including Ancient Judaism, early Christianity, early Islam, and numerous others)

For more information on these programs, please click on the program link above.

In all programs, our goal is to combine specialized, rigorous training with a common and more general disciplinary approach to the study of religion.  We do not offer a general Masters program, although under exceptional circumstances we will consider applications for a specialized MA program in one of the three designated areas.  

Doctoral students are normally expected to complete two years of coursework beyond their Masters degree (or three years post-baccalaureate).  These courses are primarily drawn from seminars offered by departmental faculty, but also include individual reading courses as well as courses in other departments, such as Classics, Philosophy, History, Comparative Literature, Anthropology, Political Science, and the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World.  The third year is spent preparing for and taking Preliminary Exams, and the remaining years are devoted to developing the dissertation prospectus and researching and writing the dissertation.