Master of Arts
The M.A. in Religious Studies, which may be elected either as preparation for more advanced study or as a terminal degree, requires:
- either: the successful completion of 30 credit hours, of which 24 credit hours comes of course work, of which at least 9 hours must be taken in a single religious tradition or cultural area and of which at least 6 hours must be taken in courses with a strong emphasis on method; and the preparation and successful defense of a thesis, which counts for the remaining 6 credit hours and which exhibits competence in the area of specialization, skill in a given method of study, and an ability to employ resources in the relevant foreign language(s);
- or: the successful completion of 30 credits of course work, of which at least 12 credits are taken in a single religious tradition or cultural area and at least 6 are taken in courses with a strong emphasis on method; and satisfactory performance in a comprehensive examination based on a reading list approved by the relevant field committee. The choice between these options is determined in consultation with faculty advisors, and with a view to the student’s objective in graduate study. (When M.A./Ph.D. program students successfully complete their comprehensive doctoral examinations, they have also completed the master’s examination requirement and may elect to receive the M.A. degree);
- and: a reading knowledge of either French of German demonstrated by examination (though another language may be substituted under appropriate circumstances and with the approval of the Committee on Graduate Studies.) Within these general requirements, the M.A. Program remains flexible and can be closely tailored to the interests of the individual student. Normally the M.A. program can be completed in three semesters, but very rarely in fewer.
Doctor of Philosophy
The following requirements pertain generally to all Ph.D. programs in the department: students admitted to the M.A./Ph.D. (i.e., students without prior graduate work in religious studies or related fields) must complete a minimum of 54 credits in courses at the 500 level and above, plus 18 credits in other courses (may be non-topical research) for a total of 72 credits.
Students admitted directly to the Ph.D. program (i.e., who already hold a graduate degree in religious studies, such as the M.A., M.Div., or some equivalent) may petition the Graduate Committee for advanced standing at the end of their first year of residence and be allowed to waive up to 24 credits of the course work requirement. These students need 30 credits of course work plus 18 other credits (e.g., non-topical research) for a total of 48 credits. All doctoral students must spend at least one academic session in full-time study.
Students must demonstrate, by examination, a reading knowledge of both French and German, although other languages may also be required. Another language may be substituted if it is appropriate to the field of specialization. Language competencies must be certified before a student may proceed to comprehensive examinations.
Students must successfully complete a series of comprehensive examinations in the field of specialization. Within six months of the completion of these examinations, students must submit and defend, before the relevant faculty committee, a dissertation proposal.
When the dissertation proposal is approved, students proceed to the writing of a dissertation that demonstrates a high level of research skills, sophistication of method, originality of insight, and specialized knowledge. Dissertations must be defended in oral examination before the faculty.
The time required for successful completion of doctoral studies varies. Those programs that require substantial language training and/or periods of fieldwork inevitably take longer to complete. Students should anticipate a period of three to six years of study.
Areas of Specialization
The Department offers six major areas of specialization in doctoral studies. They are Historical Studies; Theology, Ethics, and Culture; History of Religions; Islamic Studies; Bioethics; and Scripture, Interpretation and Practice