Program Requirements

General Program Requirements:
Number of Credits Required Beyond the Master's: 30
Number of Credits Required Beyond the Baccalaureate: 60

Required Courses:

Foundation Courses
Basic Thought, Practices, and History of Three Particular Religious Traditions12
Introductory Methodology3
Advanced Seminars and/or Independent Study33
Courses Taken Outside the Department6
Dissertation Research
REL 9999Dissertation Research6
Total Credit Hours60

The Ph.D. program is divided into three sequential units of study:

  1. Unit I encompasses the first 24 credits of courses, including all the required foundation courses, and satisfaction of a first foreign language requirement. These courses are intended to provide a firm and broad academic base across the field of Religious Studies. The foundation courses must include 12 credits of courses in the basic thought, practices, and history of three particular religious traditions and 3 credits in an introductory methodology course. The remaining 9 credits consist of advanced or specialized courses chosen by the student for the benefit of her/his program after consultation with the advisor.
  2. Unit II includes the remaining courses and second language competency to complete the required specialization in preparation for the preliminary examinations and the dissertation proposal. These include 24 credits of further advanced or specialized courses and 6 credits taken outside of the department for a total of 30 credits.
  3. Unit III entails the writing and defense of the dissertation. The student registers for 6 credits of dissertation research, usually one credit per term.

Language Examination: Competence in all languages necessary to perform graduate-level scholarly research in the student's area of concentration must be demonstrated. Reading knowledge of a minimum of two foreign languages is required.

Culminating Events:
Preliminary Examination:
The purpose of the preliminary examination is to demonstrate critical and interpretive knowledge in specialized areas of Religion. Students are examined in all areas of scholarship and research necessary for their area of study. They must have demonstrated reading knowledge of at least a second foreign language, the first having been examined in Unit I. They prepare a dissertation proposal and an outline of their areas of examinations. The preliminary examination is taken at the end of Unit II.

Members of the student's dissertation committee individually write examination questions. Sometimes faculty are included as "examiners" who will not serve on the Dissertation Committee. Students arrange with their Dissertation Committee when the exams are to be taken. Normally exams are done within the Department of Religion, using a computer under supervised conditions. All examiners and members of the Dissertation Committee must agree that the student has demonstrated competence in the relevant areas of study, and that the student is capable of completing the dissertation proposed.

The written exams serve as the basis for the oral preliminary examination. All faculty for whom exams were written participate in the oral preliminary exam.

Dissertation Proposal:
The proposal demonstrates the student's knowledge of the current research in the field on her/his particular problem of interest. Students should show methodological awareness and state the uniqueness of the proposed research with regard to the ongoing body of scholarly literature.

The dissertation is to demonstrate original and significant contributions to the study of Religion. It should make use of primary texts and demonstrate reading knowledge of appropriate original languages.

The Dissertation Examining Committee evaluates the student's dissertation and oral defense. This committee is comprised of the Doctoral Advisory Committee and at least one additional Graduate Faculty member from outside the Department of Religion. The Outside Examiner should be identified no later than the beginning of the term in which the student will defend the dissertation. The Dissertation Examining Committee evaluates the student's written thesis in making an original scholarly contribution to the field and her/his ability to defend and discuss orally the contents of the thesis.

If a student needs to change a member of a Committee, the new member must be approved by the Department's Graduate Studies Committee and registered with the Graduate Secretary and the Graduate School.

Students who are preparing to defend their dissertation should confirm a time and date with their Dissertation Examining Committee and register with the Graduate Secretary at least 30 days before the defense is to occur. The Graduate Secretary arranges the time, date, and room, and forwards to the student the appropriate forms. After the Graduate Secretary has arranged the time, date, and room for the defense, the student must send to the Graduate School a completed "Announcement of Dissertation Defense" form, found in TUportal under the Tools tab within “University Forms,” at least 10 days before the defense. The department posts flyers announcing the defense.