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The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program is jointly offered by HDS and the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Find detailed information about PhD fields of study and program requirements on the Committee on the Study of Religion website.

With a focus on global religions, religion and culture, and forces that shape religious traditions and thought, the PhD prepares students for advanced research and scholarship in religion and theological studies. 

Resources for the study of religion at Harvard are vast. We offer courses in the whole range of religious traditions from the ancient Zoroastrian tradition to modern Christian liberation movements, Islamic and Jewish philosophies, Buddhist social movements, and Hindu arts and culture. Some of us work primarily as historians, others as scholars of texts, others as anthropologists, although the boundaries of these methodologies are never firm. Some of us are adherents of a religious tradition; others are not at all religious. The Study of Religion is exciting and challenging precisely because of the conversations that take place across the complexities of disciplines, traditions, and intellectual commitments.

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Ph.D. in Religious Studies

General info.

  • Faculty working with students: 43
  • Students: 45
  • Students receiving Financial Aid: 100%
  • Part time study available: No
  • Application terms: Fall
  • Application deadlines: December 13

Ross Wagner Director of Graduate Studies Graduate Program in Religion Duke University Box 90964 Durham, NC 27708-0964 Phone: (919) 660-3512

Email:  [email protected]

Website: http://graduateprograminreligion.duke.edu

Program Description

The Graduate Program in Religion offers degrees in the following fields: American Religion; Asian Religions; Christian Theological Studies; Early Christianity; Hebrew Bible/Old Testament; History of Judaism; Islamic Studies; New Testament; Religion, Aesthetics, & Society; and World Christianity. Each field is described in detail on the web site where a field convener also is listed ( http://www.duke.edu/web/gradreligion ). Inquiries related to specific fields should be directed to that individual. Applicants should make clear the specific area in which they wish to concentrate (for example, Medieval Islam, early Judaism, contemporary Christian ethics).

Students are required to take an internal and/or an external minor, which gives them the opportunity to work in areas that complement their primary intellectual agenda, both within the religion program as well as in areas outside the program (see GPR website for details by field). This structure allows students not only to strengthen their dissertation area, but also prepares them to be teachers and scholars. Because the program draws on the Department of Religious Studies, the Divinity School, and other departments and professional schools in the University, it offers one of the most rigorous and wide-ranging Ph.D.'s in the country. An excellent job placement record has helped graduates obtain positions not only in teaching, but also in ministry, in publishing, and in educational administration.

  • Religion: PhD Admissions and Enrollment Statisics
  • Religion: PhD Completion Rate Statistics
  • Religion: PhD Time to Degree Statistics
  • Religion: PhD Career Outcomes Statistics

Application Information

Application Terms Available:  Fall

Application Deadlines:  December 13

Graduate School Application Requirements See the Application Instructions page for important details about each Graduate School requirement.

  • Transcripts: Unofficial transcripts required with application submission; official transcripts required upon admission
  • Letters of Recommendation: 3 Required
  • Statement of Purpose: Required (See departmental guidance below)
  • Résumé: Required
  • GRE Scores: GRE General (Optional)
  • English Language Exam: TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test required* for applicants whose first language is not English *test waiver may apply for some applicants
  • GPA: Undergraduate GPA calculated on 4.0 scale required
  • Writing Sample: Required (See departmental guidance below)

Statement of Purpose Guidelines Your application statement should clearly match your interest with the resources of faculty in the GPR. You must apply to one track within the program and your interests need to overlap with those among the track’s faculty. It is important to know that Duke University highly values interdisciplinary study, so demonstrating how your interests will also be served by the strength of faculty in other programs at Duke is something to include in your statement. You will be evaluated in terms of how your intellectual interests match our strengths. So indicating what areas of study you want to work in, what intellectual skills you wish to acquire through coursework and research will be very relevant.

Writing Sample A sample of scholarly work of 15-20 pages, double spaced, should be submitted as part of the application.

We strongly encourage you to review additional department-specific application guidance from the program to which you are applying: Departmental Application Guidance

List of Graduate School Programs and Degrees

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  • Ph.D. Program in Religion

For students seeking their Ph.D. in Religion, the Graduate Program in Religion —part of the Duke Graduate School—offers a Ph.D. program. Although this program is not housed with the Department of Religious Studies, it is a collaboration between the Department and Duke Divinity School. The program includes the following 9 fields of study, also called tracks, in which students can concentrate their studies:

  • American Religion
  • Asian Religions
  • Christian Theological Studies
  • Early Christianity
  • Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
  • Islamic Studies
  • New Testament
  • Religion, Aesthetics, and Society
  • World Christianity

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Department of Religious Studies

Doctoral programs (ph.d).

We offer Ph.D. study in four areas: Asian Religious Traditions, Islam, Society and Culture, Religion and Critical Thought, and Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean.

RAM now incorporates our prior Ph.D. programs in Early Christianity, and in Ancient Judaism, as well as various other ancient Mediterranean religions. All applications to study one or more religions of the Ancient Mediterranean should be made to RAM. 

Prospective applicants should also note that it is no longer possible to apply for the track in Religion, Comparison and Culture. Students interested in comparative work across two or more areas (ART, ISC, RCT, and RAM) should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Advisor for these areas before submitting an application.

Asian Religious Traditions (ART)

Islam, society and culture (isc), religion and critical thought (rct), religions of the ancient mediterranean (ram).

Prospective applicants are welcome to direct inquiries to Prof Jae H. Han, Director of Graduate Admissions ( [email protected] ), Prof. Paul Nahme, Interim Director of Graduate Studies ( [email protected] ), Nicole Vadnais, Graduate Program Manager ( [email protected] ) and/or any faculty member in the listed areas.

Graduate Advisors

Shahzad bashir, mark cladis, jason protass.

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PHD, Religion

The Phd in Religion allows one to focus on an area of study, generating a book-length manuscript, and also provides opportunities in preparation for teaching in Religious Studies. Areas of concentration: Global Religions and Religions in America

Degree Type: Doctoral

Degree Program Code: PHD_RELI

Degree Program Summary:

The Department of Religion offers a program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy in Religion. The aim of The PhD degree is to understand religion in its historical, theoretical, and applied dimensions. Given this broad objective, the PhD program in Religion aims to train scholars of religion to achieve an academic degree with concentrations in one of two broad tracks: Religion in a Global Society and Religion in the Americas, within which they will receive more specialized training in particular religions or fields of Religious Studies. A major intent of the program is to prepare individuals to become scholarly researchers and educators in religious studies who can compete successfully for positions in quality institutions of higher education. Yet individuals who are pursuing careers related to Religion other than in the academy will also find the degree useful. The program’s emphasis on global and a variety among religion(s) in the Americas will help to prepare tomorrow’s workforce for the global economy.

Religion has historically been and continues to be one of the major concerns of human societies. The Department of Religion’s PhD in Religion will clearly assist the University of Georgia as it strives to further the education of the citizens of Georgia, the nation, and the world and serve their needs. As noted in the mission statement of the 2020 Strategic Plan, the university is committed to preparing “the University community and the state for full participation in the global society of the twenty-first century. Through its programs and practices, it seeks to foster the understanding of and respect for cultural differences necessary for an enlightened and educated citizenry.” Because Religion is a crucial element of most of the world’s cultures and their worldviews, the Ph.D. in Religion–by training scholars to understand both America’s and the world’s religions–will enhance our students’ abilities to understand and respect the increasingly diverse cultures not only of their fellow Georgians and Americans but of the various societies throughout the world.

Locations Offered:

Athens (Main Campus)

College / School:

Franklin College of Arts & Sciences

346 Brooks Hall Athens, GA 30602

706-542-8776

Department:

Graduate Coordinator(s):

Derrick Lemons

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  • Religious Studies

Students must enroll in one of the following fields of study: American Religious History, Asian Religions, Early Mediterranean and West Asian Religions, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Islamic Studies, Medieval and Modern Judaism, Philosophy of Religion, Religion and Modernity, Religious Ethics, and Theology.

  • Programs of Study
  • PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
  • Combined PhD

Linn Tonstad

Director of Graduate Studies

Heather Roberts

Departmental Registrar

Admission Requirements

Standardized testing requirements.

GRE is not accepted.

Program-Specific Application Requirements

A writing sample is required by this program. 

English Language Requirement

TOEFL iBT or IELTS Academic is required of most applicants whose native language is not English.

You may be exempt from this requirement if you have received (or will receive) an undergraduate degree from a college or university where English is the primary language of instruction, and if you have studied in residence at that institution for at least three years.

Combined Degree Program Application Deadline

*The deadline to submit an application to a combined program is always the earlier deadline of the two individual programs, or December 15, whichever comes first.

Academic Information

Combined phd information.

Religious Studies offers a combined PhD in conjunction with African American Studies .

Program Advising Guidelines

GSAS Advising Guidelines

Academic Resources

Academic calendar.

The Graduate School's academic calendar lists important dates and deadlines related to coursework, registration, financial processes, and milestone events such as graduation.

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Registration Information and Dates

https://registration.yale.edu/

Students must register every term in which they are enrolled in the Graduate School. Registration for a given term takes place the semester prior, and so it's important to stay on top of your academic plan. The University Registrar's Office oversees the systems that students use to register. Instructions about how to use those systems and the dates during which registration occurs can be found on their registration website.

Financial Information

Phd stipend & funding.

PhD students at Yale are normally full-funded for a minimum of five years. During that time, our students receive a twelve-month stipend to cover living expenses and a fellowship that covers the full cost of tuition and student healthcare.

  • PhD Student Funding Overview
  • Graduate Financial Aid Office
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  • Tuition and Fees

Alumni Insights

Below you will find alumni placement data for our departments and programs.

Tips on Academic Degrees That Relate to Religion

Future religious leaders can prepare for their careers at seminaries or divinity schools.

A Guide to Religious Higher Education

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The study of religion at the collegiate or graduate level can be approached from an academic perspective, a faith-based point of view or a combination of the two.

Anyone who finds religion fascinating and who cares about the subject can pursue an academic degree in this area.

Enthusiastic disciples of either a well-known world religion such as Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam and Taoism or an arcane regional faith such as Santería often seek greater understanding of their beliefs, traditions and rituals. Some desire clarity about how their personal religious doctrines and customs compare to those of others. Devout individuals, whose major life decisions are guided by theology, frequently wish to gain divine enlightenment through exposure to inspiring preachers and a zealous search for guidance on how to be godly.

Meanwhile, secular individuals could feel curious about the doctrines and behaviors of religious people who are different from themselves, or they may want to investigate how religion influences society.

"People think that you have to be religious to major in religious studies and that is so completely not true," explains Jeanne Kilde, director of the religious studies program at the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts. "Most of our students, in fact, have very little religious background."

How Divinity, Ministry and Theology Compare to Religious Studies

Individuals with religion-related advanced degrees say there is a clear and important distinction between the closely related academic disciplines of divinity, ministry and theology – each of which presumes some kind of religious conviction – and the field of religious studies, which neither assumes nor requires pious intent.

"For me as a religious studies scholar, I look at what religious people are doing and saying," Vivian Asimos, a researcher with a Ph.D. degree in religious studies from Durham University in the United Kingdom, wrote in an email. "Whether their religious beliefs are 'right' or not isn't really important to me – that doesn't change what they're doing and saying. So that's what I focus on."

Asimos, the main director of the academic website Alt-ac.uk and founder of the educational website IncidentalMythology.com, adds: "We tend to borrow from sociology and anthropology, but you can also see traces of history, literature, and other disciplines as well."

In contrast, degrees in divinity, ministry or theology are often aimed at current or future preachers, missionaries and theologians who intend to provide spiritual instruction to others. M.A. and Ph.D. degrees relating to religion, such as those focusing on religious philosophies, generally involve assessing faith traditions from a neutral point of view, which does not favor one perspective over another.

According to the American Academy of Religion, a nonsectarian scholarly society focused on academic analysis and public understanding of religion, degrees relating to divinity, ministry or theology are usually professional degrees aimed at preparing someone for a religious vocation.

Religiously Affiliated Colleges vs. Theological Seminaries vs. Divinity Schools

Anyone who intends to study religion in college, graduate school or both should understand that many types of academic institutions provide this type of education. College hopefuls may want to attend a religiously affiliated undergraduate institution that reflects their values and upbringing. For evangelical Protestant Christians, that may mean looking at Bible colleges, whereas Catholics may wish to attend one of the world's numerous Catholic universities .

Meanwhile, at the graduate level, prospective students may elect to attend a theological seminary associated with a specific faith, such as Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Massachusetts, the Institute of Buddhist Studies in California or The Islamic Seminary of America in Texas. Alternatively, they can attend a university-affiliated school, like Harvard Divinity School in Massachusetts, that educates future faith leaders and trains objective scholars who provide insight into religious cultures.

Deepak Sarma, professor of Indian religions and philosophy at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, says someone who is religiously and academically oriented can benefit from attending a divinity school connected to a large university.

"You become part of a much larger kind of intellectual world, whereas if you were at a seminary, it's really independent of any university at all, and it's a very different sort of thing," says Sarma, who earned a Ph.D. in the philosophy of religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School .

Anyone enrolling at a pluralist divinity school should go in expecting to hear opinions from classmates and professors with divergent religious beliefs, Sarma says. "You have to be open to being exposed to lots of different religions and speaking on behalf of your own," says Sarma, who identifies as Hindu American. "You have to become the spokesperson for your religion."

There are challenges associated with being within a religious minority at a divinity school, and it can feel "isolating" at times, Sarma says. Yet he notes that he learned valuable lessons from peers and teachers whose backgrounds differed from his.

What a Career as a Religious Leader Is Like

Compensation varies widely within faith-related occupations, depending on the size of the congregation or organization where someone is based and the pay patterns within the religious denomination, according to experts. It is possible to combine a religious job with a secular one, which is common in remote areas where houses of worship tend to have a small number of congregants, experts say.

"It is also fairly common in church-planting roles, where a stable congregation or funding source does not yet exist," Jaimie Eckert, a Seventh-day Adventist Church ministry leader, wrote in an email.

"In recent decades, faith organizations around the world have taken inspiration from the Apostle Paul, who engaged in bivocational ministry as a tentmaker and an evangelist. In some denominations, these bivocational ministers are called 'tentmakers' because they combine a traditional blue or white collar job with religious work – sometimes 50/50, or sometimes working five days per week and dedicating the weekend to ministry. Tentmaker ministry is sometimes a permanent career choice and sometimes a transitional one."

How to Become a Faith Leader and Why

The standard training regimen for potential faith leaders depends on the religious group, though generally there must be some formal education in religion such as a theology degree, experts explain. The following steps are usually mandatory for a religious career.

Pursue higher education in religion.

"Religious education methods vary according to faith traditions and denominations or sects within each tradition," explains Eckert, who is pursuing a doctorate in missiology, which is the study of missionary techniques and practices. "Within the Christian tradition, for example, the Catholic and Orthodox branches tend to emphasize Christian history and the writings of the Church Fathers; mainline Protestant traditions emphasize the Biblical languages (Greek and Hebrew) and Biblical exegesis; Evangelical or Charismatic traditions may emphasize pragmatic Christian witness, such as evangelism, deliverance ministries, community development, and the acts of the Holy Spirit."

Eckert, who provides spiritual counseling through her website Scrupulosity.com, notes that the Seventh-day Adventist educational system in which she was trained tends to combine doctrinal lessons with hands-on service projects and jobs, many of which require manual labor.

"This educational system granted me two benefits: first of all, my body and brain were taxed equally throughout my academic years, helping me to avoid mental burnout," she says. "Secondly, as a graduate I had an immense pragmatic edge over students from other universities. An educational system that combined theory with practice meant that I could enter upon a ministry role in any context– in the US or abroad – and be prepared to serve my community in any way needed. If necessary, I could grow food; I could cook and serve meals; I could write and edit fundraising newsletters; I could handle basic medical care; and I could preach the Word."

Assess your reasons for joining the clergy and your character.

A generous disposition is necessary for a career as a religious leader, experts say.

"An individual who is interested in choosing the rabbinate must first and foremost be interested not in himself but in others," Rabbi Yosef Kalinsky, who has a Ph.D. in social welfare and serves as dean of undergraduate Torah studies at Yeshiva University in New York City, explained in an email. "He should view his role as one who cares for the underprivileged and who can inspire others to greatness. A rabbi should exude kindness and overall be and act as a role model and mensch," which is a person of honor and integrity.

Eckert emphasizes that cleverness and eloquence are not sufficient to make someone an excellent religious leader.

"Many people feel that the ability to exegete religious texts and preach a good homily is the qualifying feature of a religious worker," she says. "However, many hiring entities are most interested in high-quality interpersonal skills – not only for interactions with parishioners, but also for the extended ministry team. Running a religious organization is similar to running a nonprofit – the team needs to be motivated through the heart, not through the pocketbook."

She adds that arrogance and callousness are disqualifying traits for someone who intends to work at a religious organization.

"Most people who have been in ministry for any length of time – even those working in smaller houses of worship in contrast to larger ministry organizations – have nightmare stories they can tell about narcissistic, type-A leaders who can preach well but wreak havoc on every interpersonal relationship in the organization," she says. "It is hard to weed these characters out of the lineup of resumes because they tend to present very impressive qualifications, are self-confident, and speak well. But the narcissistic type of faith leader is the worst possible fit for his role because of how he harms so many others who are trying to be a positive force for good in the world."

Kindness, patience and emotional intelligence, Eckert emphasizes, are must-have qualities for religious leaders.

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Corpus Statue at the Billy Graham Center Wheaton College

Ph.D. in Biblical & Theological Studies

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Why Pursue a Ph.D. in Biblical & Theological Studies?

The Ph.D. in Biblical and Theological Studies is designed to train scholars who can serve the church worldwide as teachers, researchers, pastors, and leaders. The program aims at fostering faithfulness to the teaching of Scripture with a view towards strengthening and equipping the church in its mission.

Congratulations, Ty!

Ty Kieser , Ph.D. 2020  was recently hired as Assistant Professor of Theology and the Program Director of the M.A. in Theological & Biblical Studies at Criswell College in Dallas, Texas. His teaching is split between undergraduate and graduate theology and church history classes. Ty has published and presented extensively within his areas of research: Christology, trinitarian theology, post-Reformation theology, and theology of the atonement, including his forthcoming co-authorship, with Kelly M. Kapic,  John Owen Among the Theologians (Under Contract; due 2024).

Dr. Andrew Abernethy to Serve as New Ph.D. Mentor in Biblical Theological Studies

The Ph.D. Committee in Biblical a nd Theological Studies  is pleased to announce the addition of Dr. Andrew Abernethy as a new Ph.D. Mentor in Old Testament. Dr. Abernethy will be accepting students for the Fall of 2024. His areas of interest are I saiah, Psalms, and the Prophets,  Theological/Canonical Interpretation,  Literary-thematic approaches to the Old Testament,  Old Testament theology,  Integration of ancient context, literary analysis, and reception. 

Wheaton was an ideal place in which to prepare for a lifetime of scholarship and teaching. — Carmen Imes Ph.D., '16, Associate Professor in Old Testament at Prairie College

Stay informed about our admission requirements, deadlines, how to write a  research proposal , and more.

Why Pursue the Ph.D. in Biblical & Theological Studies at Wheaton?

Ph.d in biblical & theological studies program distinctives.

Fully Funded

A full tuition scholarship, as well as a research fellowship, for each of the six students accepted per year will enable each student to devote himself or herself to advanced learning as a fully involved member of the academic community.

Mentor Intensive

We work with a model of strong personal and academic relationships between our students and their doctoral mentors (supervisors) from the very start of their program right through their dissertation defense. Additional faculty are available to teach doctoral seminars, serve as resources, and act as secondary readers for dissertations.

Unlike most doctoral programs in North America that operate with a sequential, step-by-step model, our program is concurrent. Our students work on their dissertation proposals during their first semester, while doing seminars, honing their modern language skills, completing required readings for breadth and depth of knowledge in their field, and engaging in fellowship work (typically supporting the research and teaching of a professor).

Integrative Approach

In a world of very super-specialized scholarship, we are intentional about bridging the scholarly gap between the Old and New Testaments, and especially between the disciplines of Biblical Studies and Theology. In today’s academy, these are often treated as separate, autonomous subjects, but our program is designed to hold them together. Our program is decidedly theological. We want our students to engage the whole canon of Scripture to discern its unified message for today. Likewise, our program explores the scriptural roots of theology and the theological roots of Scripture.

Globally Minded

This program will expose students to perspectives from other parts of the world through class discussions, the presence of visiting international scholars, and an academic community engaged in global issues.

Comparing our Biblical and Theological Studies Programs

At the Wheaton College Graduate School, we offer a number of programs in our School of Biblical and Theological Studies, so you can find the right fit for you:

  • The M.A. in Theology concentrates on the historical and systematic development of theological ideas and doctrines in the context of particular historical or doctrinal systems.
  • The M.A. in History of Christianity focuses on both the historiography and the history of the Christian church and on the social, political, and economic contexts in which Christianity has developed over time.
  • The M.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies prepares students to study the Bible and understand Christian Theology for the purposes of practical ministry and the enrichment of contemporary Christian life.
  • The M.A. in Biblical Exegesis equips students to study and interpret the Bible with a rigorous, academic knowledge of biblical languages, hermeneutics, and literary and historical backgrounds.
  • The M.A. in Old Testament Archaeology investigates the world of the Bible through the recovery and study of ancient sources in order to better understand Scripture.
  • The Ph.D. in Biblical & Theological Studies is a highly competitive, rigorous, and academic doctoral program that trains Biblical Scholars and Theologians to serve as teachers, researchers, pastors, and leaders in the church and the academy worldwide.

Ph.D. Curriculum and Course Catalog

All students will be required to take a minimum of 40 hours of doctoral-level courses and may be asked to take as many as 60 credits.

How long does it take to get a Ph.D. in Biblical & Theological Studies from Wheaton College?

The program is designed to be completed faster than most U.S. Ph.D. programs. With coursework and dissertation work completed concurrently, students can complete their Ph.D. within as little as four years. Length and specific components of the program vary from student to student.

What jobs can I get with a Ph.D. in Biblical & Theological Studies?

In partnership with our Center for Vocation and Career, many find employment in higher education, as well as church and parachurch agencies. 

Who Hires our Graduates?

  • Colleges and universities
  • Parachurch agencies
  • Religious organizations
  • Publishing houses

Where are Our Ph.D. Alumni Serving?

Alumni from the program have gone on to work at the following organizations and many more:

  • Reformed Theological Seminary
  • Institut Biblique et Missionnaire
  • First Presbyterian Church of Miami
  • Northern Seminary
  • Talbot School of Theology
  • The Urban Ministry Institute
  • Oak Hill Theological College
  • Grace Theological Seminary
  • Zondervan Publishing
  • Gordon College
  • Grace Church of DuPage
  • Singapore Bible College
  • Bethlehem Bible College and Seminary
  • Crossway Books
  • Planetshakers College
  • Knox Theological Seminary
  • Visoko Evanđeosko Teološko Učilište, Croatia

What Career Paths Have Our Alumni Taken?

Alumni of the Ph.D. in Biblical & Theological Studies program have gone on to faithful careers in a variety of different fields. Many hold teaching positions at seminaries as well as both Christian and secular colleges and universities around the country and the world. Beyond that, our graduates pastor churches large and small here in the local area, on both coasts of the country, and in many other countries across the globe. A number of graduates also serve in publishing and other media-related fields. 

Wheaton Ph.D. Biblical and Theological Studies Admission and Tuition

Can i earn my ph.d. in biblical & theological studies online.

The Ph.D. in Biblical & Theological Studies is a residential program taught at the main campus of Wheaton College.

How do I apply to the Ph.D. in Biblical & Theological Studies?

Admission requirements include:

  • Application deadline: January 1 st
  • Interview Required
  • Master's of Divinity (M.Div.), M.A. Theological Studies, M.A. Biblical Studies, or equivalent required
  • 3.5 Minimum Graduate GPA
  • GRE within the past five years
  • Sample Research Paper
  • Research Proposal
  • Four Recommendations (online forms)

Does a Wheaton College master's degree guarantee admission to the Ph.D. ?

While our M.A. programs in Biblical and Theological Studies provide excellent preparation for entry into top competitive Ph.D. programs (including Wheaton), admission to Wheaton’s Ph.D. is not guaranteed for Wheaton master’s students.

Biblical and Theological Studies women enjoying a day out in Chicago

BTS Grad Women's Fellowship

The Biblical and Theological Studies (BTS) Grad Women’s Fellowship was started over a decade ago to provide a space for female graduate students in the department to meet together regularly throughout the year with female faculty, build relationships, provide support, and enjoy each other’s company. The group was started by Dr. Karen Jobes (Faculty Emerita) and is led today by Rev. Dr. Jennifer Powell McNutt and Rev. Dr. Amy Peeler. Food, fellowship, and prayer are the focus of our time together. If you are a female Bible and Theology student in an M.A. or Ph.D. program, please join us! Feel free to email [email protected]  with any questions.

Faculty Books

The Lord Roars cover

The Lord Roars - Recovering the Prophetic voice for Today

Old Testament ethicist M. Daniel Carroll R. shows that learning from the prophets can make us better prepared for Christian witness.

faculty book by Marc Cortez

Christological Anthropology in History Perspective

Dr. Marc Cortez looks at the ways several key theologians have used Christology to inform their understanding of the human person.

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A Theology of Paul and His Letters

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Women and the Gender of God

Amy Peeler shows how the Bible depicts a God beyond gender and a savior who, while embodied as a man, is the unification in one person of the image of God that resides in both male and female.

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Evangelical Theology

Dr. Daniel Treier provides this introductory textbook for evangelical colleges, universities, and seminaries that offers students a biblically rich, creedally structured, ecumenically evangelical, and ethically engaged introduction to Christian theology.

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Josey Johnson's Hair and the Holy Spirit

Dr. Esau McCaulley has created a wonderful book that celebrates, "Each one of us is God's unique work of art."

Recent Biblical and Theological Studies News

Wheaton College IL students celebrate the first day of classes 2023

Learn more about the Admission Requirements to apply for the program.

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Graduate Biblical and Theological Studies Billy Graham Hall 501 College Avenue Wheaton, IL 60187 630.752.5197 bts.graduate.studies@wheaton.edu

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Possible Careers for Ph.D. in Biblical & Theological Students

In partnership with our Center for Vocation and Career , many find employment in higher education, as well as church and parachurch agencies.

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Alumni of the Ph.D. in Biblical & Theological Studies program have gone on to faithful careers in a variety of different fields. Many hold teaching positions at seminaries as well as both Christian and secular colleges and universities around the country and the world. Beyond that, our graduates pastor churches large and small here in the local area, on both coasts of the country, and in many other countries across the globe. A number of graduates also serve in publishing and other media-related fields.

what can i do with a phd in religious studies

General Catalog

Religious studies, phd.

what can i do with a phd in religious studies

This is the first version of the 2023–24 General Catalog. Please check back regularly for changes. The final edition and the historical PDF will be published during the fall semester.

The doctoral program in the Department of Religious Studies trains participants to become advanced practitioners of the study of religion as researchers, scholars, teachers, and facilitators of informed public discourse. Some graduates become professors at colleges or universities while others bring a nuanced, critical understanding of religion and its influences to such careers as health care, law, diplomacy, ministry, social advocacy, journalism, counseling, and informatics.

PhD students train to analyze the ways in which diverse religious traditions originate, develop, and interact over time, and learn to identify and use multiple methods for the study of religion, including historical, philosophical, ethical, literary, linguistic, psychological, ethnographic, and digital approaches. Students typically draw on the expertise of several different members of the religious studies faculty and also are encouraged to work with faculty members in other UI departments who specialize in their areas of interest. Many PhD students work, for example, with scholars in the departments of Anthropology; Asian and Slavic Languages; Classics; Communication Studies; English; Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies; and History.

The program offers a collegial intellectual community, including a departmental colloquium series, a collaborative reading group in critical theory, and an ethos of mutual support among graduate students.

Graduate study in the Department of Religious Studies is highly flexible and personalized, and is shaped to individual students’ interests concordant with existing faculty expertise.

Areas of Current Faculty Expertise

Religions of southwest asia, north africa, and the mediterranean.

Religion, law, and politics in the Islamic world; the history of interpretation of the texts and traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; Greco-Roman and Egyptian religion and culture; digital humanities.

Religions of East Asia

Religious traditions of China and the political, social, and economic factors that have shaped them; modern religion and culture in Korea, most notably Christianity; religion and gender in transnational perspective; religion and empire.

Religions of the United States and the Atlantic World

History and ethnography of religion in the United States; African American religious traditions (Christianity, Islam, and African diaspora religions); West African religions; religion, media, and the negotiation of technological change; Latina/o/x Christianity.

Religion, Ethics, and Society

Religion and morality; religion, emotion, and affect; human rights; religion's relationship to gender, race, and ethnicity; ethics of medicine and biotechnology; religion and health.

Graduate study also is developed by theme. Popular themes include religions’ relationships to public life, gender, race, media, technology, and human health and well-being.

Learning Outcomes

  • Teaching success: students gain expertise in how to teach religious studies in a liberal arts setting, and if they serve as teaching assistants (TAs) during their graduate program, they show effectiveness in reaching a diverse audience of students.
  • Critical knowledge of the field: students become familiar with foundational texts in their field, as well as influential scholarship that critically engages these texts and seeks to move the field in new directions; students identify ways in which they can contribute to the corpus of texts that compose their field.
  • Academic skills: students develop skills to read carefully and think critically, and they write in clear and compelling ways about topics related to the study of religion; students have hands-on opportunities to develop key skills in public engagement.
  • Religion and social equity: students gain a critical understanding of the historical entanglement of global religions with racism and misogyny; they can articulate religions’ relationships to unjust power structures, as well as religions’ contributions to greater social justice.
  • Professional engagement: students demonstrate successful participation in the life of the department, their subfield, and the broader field of religious studies; they communicate about their learning with students from other fields.

For more detailed information on graduate programs in religious studies, contact the Department of Religious Studies or visit Graduate Program on the department's website.

The doctoral program in the Department of Religious Studies requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit. A maximum of 24 s.h. of relevant graduate work may be transferred from another accredited graduate school or professional program, as approved by the director of graduate studies. A maximum of 12 s.h. of thesis writing credit may count toward the 72 s.h. requirement. Students must maintain a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.40.

All PhD students are required to demonstrate competency in English and at least one other language that is relevant to their advanced research; more specific language requirements are set in consultation with an advisory committee.

Students are supervised initially by a three-person committee consisting of an advisor and two additional faculty members; often these members serve also on the student's five-person comprehensive exam and dissertation committees.

All PhD students must complete the following eight courses.

Students select remaining coursework depending on their interests and in consultation with their advisory committee. PhD students must submit and have their departmental program of study approved in the fourth semester of their study to be permitted to proceed in the PhD program. Those who are approved are expected to write and orally defend comprehensive exams (by the eighth semester), a dissertation prospectus (by the ninth semester), and a doctoral dissertation (by the twelfth semester).

Students working toward a PhD may receive an MA upon completing at least 30 s.h. of coursework and passing their comprehensive examination.

It is the expectation that PhD students complete their studies in six years; five for those who are accepted into the program with an MA and transfer credit.

Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations on the Graduate College website.

Application materials must include an application form; a transcript of all undergraduate and graduate work (one copy must be sent to the university's Office of Admissions , and a second copy must be sent to the Department of Religious Studies ); an application or waiver of consideration form for graduate assistantships; three confidential letters of recommendation; and a writing sample that demonstrates the applicant's ability to engage in critical analysis. Applicants also must submit a statement of purpose that explains their objectives for graduate study and states which area of graduate study in religion best suits their objectives. Students may indicate one of the department’s traditional areas of concentration or an area that is defined more by theme .

Students are advised to view the Department of Religious Studies website, most notably the faculty pages, to ascertain whether their area of interest is well-supported by faculty expertise. Moreover, students are encouraged to contact relevant faculty members prior to applying for graduate study in order to explore areas of mutual interest. It is helpful to include information about such contacts in their statement of purpose. The strongest applications show how students would benefit from working with multiple members of the faculty. For details, see Graduate Admission, Financial Aid, and Additional Funding on the department's website.

All application materials must be received by Jan. 15 to receive full consideration for fall admission.

All PhD students in religious studies receive funding for at least four years. The department offers financial support for graduate students primarily in the form of teaching assistantships.

Every few years the department awards the Gilmore Scholarship for doctoral students who study the intersection of religion, the visual arts, and humanistic values.

The department also has a number of annual scholarships that it awards to graduate students for excellence in teaching and scholarship. In addition, PhD students can apply for funds from the department for research and conference travel expenses.

The department also assists PhD students in applying for funding that provides them time off from teaching to focus on exams and dissertation writing.

Graduate students in religious studies acquire a wide range of competencies that are useful for almost any career they pursue. Students gain research skills; they master the craft of writing; they learn to plan, manage, and complete large projects; they gain teaching skills that are useful both inside and outside the academy; they learn to argue persuasively; they gain the ability to communicate with others about controversial issues; they learn how to understand and mediate differences in religious perspectives and values; they acquire rare language skills; and they gain expertise in the use of digital technologies for research and teaching.

Students who earn a PhD in religious studies often go on to become scholars and teachers in university or college settings. Other degree recipients have become professional ethicists, leaders of nongovernmental organizations, school or church administrators, nonacademic educators, digital media specialists, and government employees in the area of international affairs.

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans represent one way to complete a program of study. Actual course selection and sequence will vary and should be discussed with an academic advisor. For additional sample plans, see MyUI .

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2023-24 Catalog

A PDF of the entire 2023-24 catalog.

FACULTY OF SOCIAL SCIENCES

Religious studies.

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PhD Religious Studies

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One of the first graduate programs in Religious Studies in Canada (established in 1964), McMaster University has been a leading center for the scholarly study of religion for nearly six decades.

We have three graduate fields of study (Asian, Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity and Western) and research is conducted in a range of topics and traditions, time periods and cultures, employing a wide variety of approaches: textual, ethnographic, historical, philosophical, theological, philological.

About the Program

There are currently about 50 graduate students enrolled in the department, and 14 professors active in graduate supervision. The department has had enviable success in placing its PhD graduates. Of the more than 40 students who have received the PhD since 1996, approximately 60 per cent have moved on to hold full-time academic positions, and another 20 per cent to part-time teaching.

In order for all graduate students have the opportunity to develop both depth and breadth in their courses of study, candidates for PhD degrees are normally required to choose one major area of study and one minor area of study from the list of seven areas.

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Requirements and Timelines

PhD students are required to:

  • Students working toward the PhD must take at least five half courses at the graduate level at McMaster beyond the MA  RS *701 may not be counted among the five half courses required for the PhD degree. Additional courses may be required by the candidate’s advisory committee.
  • Students who have completed an MA elsewhere must normally complete at least one half course in the minor area of study. Students who have completed an MA in the Department of Religious Studies at McMaster do not have to do additional course work in the minor area, though they are encouraged to do so.
  • Three half courses must be in Religious Studies; two half courses may be taken outside the department in a relevant area of study. Exceptions may be made by the candidate’s advisory committee.
  • To receive the PhD degree, the student must have at least B- standing in each of the required courses.
  • Students who have not completed the equivalent of six units (one full year course) of undergraduate work in Western religions may fulfill their breadth requirement by taking six units of undergraduate courses, or by writing two Breadth Requirement examinations, or by taking a three unit undergraduate course and writing on Breadth Requirement examination early in their PhD program.
  • The minimum PhD requirement is competence in two such languages. Work in several areas of the department entails additional language requirements, as specified below.  Responsibility for the choice of the language(s) to be examined lies with the advisory/supervisory committee which acts in accordance with individual area requirements, where such exist. In some cases, additional languages or more advanced levels of language competence may be required by the advisory/supervisory committee.
  • Pass comprehensive examinations in major and minor fields.
  • Defend a thesis which is a significant and original scholarly contribution.  

Language Requirements: Asian Field

Buddhism and East Asian Religions:

  • For PhD students whose theses involve thematic or comparative studies, two years’ study of Sanskrit or Japanese or Chinese is normally required. For PhD students, the requirement must be met for a second language as well.
  • For PhD students whose theses, in the judgment of the supervisory committee, require analyses of texts in the original languages, (a) three years of Sanskrit or Japanese or Chinese, and (b) two years of a second language from this list are required.
  • Further language competence may be required by the supervisory committee where the thesis topic warrants it.

Language Requirements: Biblical Field

Early Judaism:

  • PhD students must complete language requirements in Greek and two modern languages (usually French and German) as well as the equivalent of three years of undergraduate courses in Hebrew.

Early Christianity:

  • PhD students must complete language requirements in Hebrew and two modern languages (usually French and German) as well as the equivalent of three years of undergraduate courses in Greek.

Language Requirements: Western Field

  • PhD students must complete language requirements in two languages most likely to be of assistance in the student’s research.

The language requirement(s) should be met in one of the following ways:

  • Where a student has already done course work in the relevant language at the university level, a grade of B in a full year (six unit) second level university course (understood as equivalent to the relevant McMaster course) taken within the last five years is generally considered adequate for fulfilling the requirement in the language.
  • Language exams in French and German are set by the department and normally graded by readers in the French and German departments. B- is the minimum passing grade. French and German exams are normally taken at three set times during the year (see Calendar of Dates). When the university offers facilities for examination (e.g., Latin, Spanish), the passing of the relevant examination will fulfill the requirement.
  • Where languages are proposed for which no university offerings are available, the advisory/supervisory committee is responsible for arranging for the examination of the language.
  • Where the language chosen is the student’s native language, and his or her knowledge of that language is of university level, the language requirement in that language may be understood as having been fulfilled.
  • Final judgment on fulfillment of the minimum language requirements rests with the student’s advisory committee, whose decisions are subject to departmental approval.
  • Language requirements should normally be met within 36 months of the beginning of the PhD program .
  • Summer language courses may be offered from year to year in French or German. These courses are designed for graduate students or students intending to enter graduate programs and are offered with special permission from the Department of Linguistics and Languages. Credit obtained in these courses may be accepted in fulfillment of the second language reading requirement.

Comprehensive Examinations

  • Each doctoral student must write two comprehensive exams, one in the major area of study and the other in the minor area of study.
  • The examinations are meant to examine the adequacy of the student’s habitual knowledge. This means, negatively, that the examinations are not meant to test the student’s research capacities, or command of the recondite research data that might go into a doctoral dissertation. Positively, it means that the examinations test the student’s hold on general knowledge: the kind of knowledge that all persons in the field are presumed to have.
  • Students are advised to consult the Chair of their Advisory Committee regarding the format and questions for both their major and minor comprehensive examinations.
  • In accordance with the regulations set by the Graduate School, comprehensive examinations are to be completed within 24 months of the beginning of the PhD program .
  • Comprehensive examinations are written at four times during the year: the second and third weeks in September; the second and third weeks in January; the first and second weeks in May, and the first and second weeks in July.
  • Students should indicate their intention to take a comprehensive examination during one of the periods scheduled for their writing by filling out the required form at least one month before the date of writing.
  • In writing the major examination, the student will be allowed a minimum of eight and a maximum of ten hours; the hour limits for the minor examination will be six and eight. The major examination will generally be taken in two equal parts and on different days. One of these two parts may be taken orally; in this case, the time limits will be appropriately adjusted.
  • Areas in which a candidate may conduct thesis research are limited by available faculty and library resources. Candidates should not assume that they may write on any subject in the whole field of religious studies. Each topic must be carefully examined, defined, and approved by the department. Queries on this matter should be directed, very early in the candidate’s career, to their advisory committee.
  • Within one month of the date on which comprehensive examination results are sent out, students should submit a statement of their thesis subject to the Graduate Affairs Committee. At this stage, the statement can be very short (a paragraph). This statement is to be signed by the chair of the student’s Advisory Committee.
  • At the same time, the student, after consulting with the advisory committee, will submit a “Nomination of a Supervisory Committee” form for the approval of the Graduate Affairs Committee. This will include the names of three (occasionally four) faculty members who will serve as the supervisory committee for the thesis. The main supervisor of the thesis is to be drawn from the faculty members in the area within which the thesis is being written.
  • Normally supervisory committees include at least one other faculty member from the department, and where feasible, a faculty member from outside the Department of Religious Studies. In cases where faculty members from other universities are included in the proposed supervisory committee, the chair of the advisory committee will contact that person to ascertain that he or she is prepared to join the committee. After the composition of the proposed supervisory committee has been approved by the Graduate Affairs Committee, the Chair of the Graduate Affairs Committee will request the Dean of Graduate Studies formally to invite the member from another university to join the committee. The chair of the Graduate Affairs Committee will report the composition of the supervisory committee at the next departmental meeting.

The Thesis Proposal

  • Within six months of the completion of comprehensive examinations, the student is to submit a thesis proposal to the Graduate Affairs Committee for oral defense and approval. The proposal is to be roughly five to seven pages in length (c. 1500-2000 words) and is to be accompanied by a brief preliminary bibliography.
  • The proposal is a formal piece of written work which will be judged for composition, clarity, and style as well as content. While not intended to be a report on research already completed, the proposal should include a clear statement of the question which the thesis is intended to answer, of the method and procedure with which the inquiry is to be pursued, and, in the light of the current state of scholarship, of the contribution which the dissertation can be expected to make.
  • The proposal is evaluated by the Graduate Affairs Committee (no sooner than two weeks after the general circulation of the proposal). The student is required to attend this meeting, and the student’s supervisor (or a substitute designated by the supervisory committee) is also expected to attend.

Writing and Defense of the Thesis

  • The final thesis copy should be prepared in accordance with the Graduate School booklet “Guide for the Preparation of Theses”. This guide, thesis regulations, forms and information are available through the School of Graduate Studies website . Responsibility for compliance with these rules and neat preparation of the final copy rests with the student.
  • Further information about the final stages of submission and defense is found in the Graduate Calendar. The required forms may be obtained from the department office.

Completion Deadlines for the PhD Program 

  • Regulations regarding the time within which various components of the PhD program are to be completed are set by the department and the Graduate School. This time framework seeks to facilitate the completion of the PhD within the four years for which funding is provided.
  • Comprehensive examinations are to be completed within 24 months of the start of the program .
  • One month after the completion of the comprehensives the one-paragraph thesis statement and the form for nominating a supervisory committee must be submitted to the Graduate Affairs Committee.
  • The thesis proposal must be submitted to the Graduate Affairs Committee within 6 months of the students’ being notified of the results of the comprehensive examinations.
  • Language requirements must be completed within 36 months of the start of the program.
  • The advisory/supervisory committee must indicate on the annual or semi-annual report of full-time PhD students those who do not meet these deadlines. In such cases, the supervisor is to indicate in an accompanying note whether progress is deemed unsatisfactory or whether there are extenuating circumstances.
  • In the latter case, new deadlines for the fulfillment of the requirements are to be indicated on the progress report form, and arrangements made for a new meeting of the committee and the filing of a new report immediately after the date of the revised deadline. Failure to meet the revised deadline will normally result in unsatisfactory progress being indicated.
  • The chair of the Graduate Affairs Committee is to review all reports and to ensure compliance with these regulations.

Admissions and Applications

Admission Requirements for PhD

Students are admitted to the PhD program at one of three stages in their academic work. Normally they have completed the MA degree. The primary requirements in these cases are distinction in their previous graduate work (equivalent to at least a McMaster B+) and strong letters of reference. Admission is competitive; meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission. During their first year of study in the MA program at McMaster students can apply for acceptance into the PhD program.

The department recommends to the Committee on Graduate Admissions and Study one of the following:

(A) Admission to PhD studies following completion of the requirements for the master’s degree.

(B) Admission to PhD studies without completion of a master’s program.

(C) Admission to PhD studies but with concurrent completion of all requirements within one calendar year from the date of reclassification.

(D) Refusal of admission to PhD studies.

A student in (B) may re-register as a candidate for the master’s degree, provided that work to date has met the standards for the master’s program .

Students in (C) who do not complete the requirements for the master’s degree within the year lose their status as a PhD candidate.

  • PhD level course requirements can only be undertaken after the student has been admitted to doctoral level study.
  • In exceptional cases an applicant with an honours degree in Religious Studies or a broad and comprehensive theological education may be admitted directly to PhD study. Within one calendar year the progress of students admitted to PhD studies directly from a bachelor’s degree must be reviewed by their supervisory committee and the department. The department then recommends to the Committee on Graduate Admissions and Study one of the following: (a) proceed with PhD studies; (b) not proceed with PhD studies but re-register as a master’s candidate; (c) withdraw from the university.

A student admitted directly to the PhD may re-register as a candidate for the master’s degree. In this case, and also in the case of students in (b) , the master’s degree is not awarded until all the requirements for this degree have been met.

Language Prerequisites for Admission to the PhD Program

  • Candidates applying for admission to the PhD program will normally be required to demonstrate sufficient competency in foreign languages to ensure their effective participation in the doctoral program and to facilitate its timely completion.
  • PhD applicants in the Biblical field should have acquired competence in one biblical language (Hebrew or Greek) and one foreign language of modern scholarship; they are also advised to begin study of the second biblical language, or of a second foreign language of modern scholarship, prior to the inception of their doctoral program .
  • PhD applicants in the Asian field should have begun the study of Sanskrit or Chinese or Japanese.
  • PhD applicants in the Western field should have acquired competence in one of their required languages.
  • Interested students who have not acquired such competence are urged to contact the department to explore ways for preparing to meet the requirements.

How To Apply

All applications for admission must be completed online. Please visit the School of Graduate Studies website for detailed information.

The following items are required before your online application will be considered complete:

  • Statement of Interest. Please include in your statement of interest (500-700 words) a description of your intended area of research, as well as information on your academic background and proficiency in foreign languages, detailing the relevant courses you have taken, levels at which they were taken, and the grades that you received for them.
  • Two Academic References
  • Official Transcripts
  • English Language Proficiency
  • Writing Sample (an essay or thesis chapter)

The application deadline for September intake is January 15. 

Financial Information, Scholarships and Awards

  • See all awards and funding opportunities on the School of Graduate Studies website.
  • Apply to awards administered by McMaster University through AwardSpring . External awards have unique application processes.
  • BDK Canada Graduate Scholarship: A s cholarship for graduate students in Buddhist Studies to spend a year in Japan.

Learn more about the BDK Scholarship

Apply to a PhD in Religious Studies

Graduate Courses

View our current graduate courses & course descriptions

what can i do with a phd in religious studies

GRADUATE SUPERVISORS

Find a graduate supervisor in your area of interest.

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November 08, 2023 12:00 pm

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PhD in Religion

Students must complete a minimum of three full years of residential study beyond the bachelor’s degree (or two years beyond the M.A., or its equivalent, if earned elsewhere than UGA), exceptions to this rule being permitted only with the approval of the Department and Graduate School. This can be gained either by

  • 60 hours of graduate-level coursework beyond the bachelor’s degree (in the case where one has not previously earned a master’s degree at UGA), which can be completed either in two 30 hour blocks of consecutive work or 60 hours of consecutive work; or by
  • 30 hours of consecutive graduate-level coursework beyond the master’s degree (in the case where a master’s degree has previously been earned at UGA)

Also required for the PhD are Research Skills:

Two modern secondary research languages plus any other primary languages deemed necessary and appropriate and approved by the student’s major professor. The modern, secondary research languages must be other than English, languages in which contemporary scholars present and publish their research and discuss and critique other scholars’ research. Primary languages are those in which the principal texts of one’s research are written or spoken. 

This assessment shall be taken prior to the Ph.D. comprehensive examinations; no dissertation proposal will receive final approval until all language requirements have been met.

Our programs allow students latitude in pursuing their interests, but are designed to emphasize the Department’s areas of concentration:

  • American Studies (American Religion, African American Religion, Native American Religion, Southern Religion)
  • Asian Studies (Literature, History, Thought in Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Jainism, Sikhism, and/or Shinto)
  • African and African Diaspora Studies
  • Biblical Studies (Hebrew Bible, New Testament, Biblical World)
  • Christian Studies (Bible & Christian Literature, History, Thought)
  • Islamic Studies (Quran & Islamic Literature, History, Thought and Sufism)
  • Jewish Studies (Hebrew Bible & Jewish Literature, History, Thought)

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Why Study Religion at UGA?

  • A diverse department that covers a wide range of traditions
  • Significant flexibility with respect to research specializations
  • Excellent mentorship in research and professional development
  • Interdisciplinary opportunities
  • Robust intellectual life in a vibrant graduate community
  • Athens is affordable and one of the best college towns in the US

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Faulkner University News – 4 Careers You Can Have with a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies

Faulkner University

A Christian University

Introduction

4 careers you can have with a ph.d. in biblical studies.

what can i do with a phd in religious studies

An online Ph.D. in Biblical Studies gives students a way to attain an  advanced degree  while delving into personal faith and spirituality. Working as a minister or pastor pairs well with a Biblical Studies degree, but these are not the only options.

Most postsecondary educators must have a Ph.D., according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A Ph.D. in Biblical Studies equips graduates to join faculties at universities and colleges. Graduates could teach courses such as Philosophy of Religion, Religious History, and Christian Education.

Primary or Secondary Teacher

Religious-based private schools require a faculty to teach students from kindergarten through high school. Someone with an  online degree  in Biblical studies would have the expertise necessary to teach a theology class at a private school.

Administrative and Executive Positions

Religious organizations and schools need administrators and executives on staff to manage the business and the employees. School administrators have responsibilities such as setting school policies, working with parents, managing faculty, working with a board of directors, and supervising students. An advanced degree in Biblical Studies equips administrators and executives to evaluate whether a religious organization is truly working towards goals consistent with the Bible, and to ensure all members of the organization are treated with Christian values.

Social Work

People with a strong desire to help others in all walks of life often pursue an online Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from  Faulkner University . Social work can be a natural career after graduation. Social work enables graduates to focus on people of all ages experiencing hardships such as homelessness, poverty, abuse, and addiction. A social worker may work for a private organization, such as a faith-based agency, or work for the government at state and local levels.

Students may be surprised at the many career paths that open up with an online Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Faulkner University.

Photo Credit:  George Bannister

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Deepen your understanding of the bible by pursuing biblical studies, 6 career paths for biblical studies graduates outside of the church.

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Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Graduate programs.

  • Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
  • New Testament
  • History of the Christian Tradition
  • Religion and Culture
  • Religious Ethics
  • Systematic Theology

Requirements :

Satisfactory completion of 48 credit hours of approved coursework, including the four courses of the core seminar in Religious Studies: RELI 6301 The Philosophical Study of Religion; RELI 6302 Approaches to Asian Religion; RELI 6303 History, Theory and Method in Religious Studies; and RELI 6304 Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Religion.

Demonstrating, by examination, a reading competence in two approved languages, other than English, relevant to the field of study. For students in the two fields of biblical studies, four languages are required. Examinations must be passed in both Hebrew and Greek as well as in two additional languages.

Passing four comprehensive field examinations on the subjects designated for examination in the student's field, each consisting of a six-hour written examination based on the bibliography agreed upon with the examiner and the second reader.

Securing the steering committee's approval of a dissertation proposal endorsed by the student's adviser, two other members of the Graduate Program in Religious Studies faculty and one reader from outside the Graduate Program in Religious Studies faculty.

  • Satisfactorily meeting the practice teaching requirement.
  • Satisfactorily completing the doctoral dissertation.
  • Passing an oral examination covering the student's entire course of study as well as the dissertation.

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PhD in Religious Studies

Our PhD in Religious Studies provides you with training in Early Judaism, Christian origins, and religions of the late antique Mediterranean.

Our PhD in Religious Studies will also provide you with the professional equipment to conduct original research in your chosen fields, and you will be equipped to teach at the college or university level.

Program requirements

The official requirements for graduation are published in the UBC Calendar. You must meet the specific requirements for the year of your program start date.

All PhD degrees require:

  • The completion of 18 credits of coursework at the 500-level.
  • Subject-specific comprehensive exams.
  • Demonstrated competence in two modern languages.

You must complete 18 credits of coursework before writing your comprehensive exams. You should complete most of your coursework in year one, with additional coursework in year two if required. Up to six credits may come from the graduate offerings of another department. Additionally, you must maintain continuous registration in LATN 649, GREK 649, or RELG 649 (zero credits), the doctoral dissertation.

You may choose courses freely and are strongly encouraged to do so in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and/or your supervisor. You should consult the Graduate Program Advisor to meet all program requirements.

Modern language requirement

As a doctoral student, you are required to attain minimal reading knowledge of at least two foreign modern languages in addition to English. Doctoral students who have demonstrated competence in an approved modern language as a requirement of a previous degree only test in one additional language, with the approval of the graduate program.

Your available choices are French, German, Italian, and Spanish. You will select the language(s) in consultation with your intended supervisor and/or the Director of Graduate Studies. The selected language(s) will be reported to the Graduate Program Advisor.

Competence in a language can be established by any of four means:

  • Being a native speaker of the language.
  • The successful completion of an examination administered by the department’s Graduate Committee (procedure below) or (when available) by another department.
  • The successful completion of six credits (one year) in the language. This is may be fulfilled with any paired language courses (e.g. GERM 100 and 110, ITAL 101 and 102, SPAN 101 and 102, SPAN 206 and 207, FREN 101 and 102, FREN 342 and 343). These two courses must be taken for academic credit while registered in the graduate program, must meet minimum grades for G+PS, and do not count toward the credits required for the degree.
  • The completion of a modern language requirement as part of another graduate degree.

In exceptional circumstances, when an intended dissertation project requires access to a significant body of scholarship in another language, doctoral students may substitute that language for one of the two required languages with the approval of the graduate program. The selected language must be relevant as a language of scholarship key to the student’s intended program of research.

At the Department of Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies, we strongly urge students, in consultation with their intended supervisor and/or the Director of Graduate Studies, to consider early on in their program how they will fulfill the language requirements and further their career development.

You must satisfy the modern language requirement before you complete your comprehensive examinations.

Reading lists and comprehensive examinations

Reading lists constitute the best way to prepare you with the general background of the field by reading seminal primary and secondary works. Familiarity with these lists is examined by written comprehensive examinations or comps. Comprehensive exams are written in the first two weeks of April in the second year of study.

Lists for translation exams represent a prescribed set of primary texts in the original language. These works represent a canon of original authors (literary, historical, and philosophical) that draws from many genres and periods. The process results in an identifiable and useful body of knowledge that is objectively examinable and fills the gaps in the student's reading of central authors.

Lists for essay exams consist of 50-60 recent and substantial contributions to the relevant field and are intended to familiarize the student with a core of scholarship and an understanding of major scholarly approaches.

While some works on these lists may be covered as part of the student's coursework, there is no expectation that they will be: students should have the ability to work through all of the texts on their own, in addition to coursework. Students lacking overview courses in their chosen fields are advised to speak to the Graduate Program Advisor about auditing or enrolling in relevant undergraduate courses.

Reading lists are the same across the cohort and are not tailored to individuals; the content may vary from year to year. In consultation with their prospective supervisor, students identify the subjects on which they wish to write by April 15th of their first year and report this to the Graduate Program Advisor. Lists for the following academic year are available from July 1st.

PhD Religious Studies

Students in the PhD Religious Studies write two essay exams.

First, you write a general comprehensive exam on the ancient Near East and Mediterranean religious traditions, beginning with Gilgamesh, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

The second essay exam is in a special field. In consultation with the Religious Studies Committee, your prospective supervisor is responsible for devising a reading list for the special field examination no later than July 1st of your first year of study.

Oral comprehensive examination

Within two weeks of sitting the written comprehensive exams, all PhD students complete an oral examination (2 hours) consisting of questions on the material in each written comps.

PhD supervisory committees

Between January and May of the second year of study, you will select a PhD supervisor in consultation with the Area Chair and Director of Graduate Studies. The supervisory committee will normally consist of two faculty members (one may be from outside the department) and the supervisor, who serves as chair.

Once the supervisory committee is formed (to be done within one month of completing written and oral comprehensive examinations), you may proceed to the dissertation prospectus.

PhD dissertation prospectus and colloquium

Within 5 months of successful completion of the comprehensive examinations, you must submit the final draft of the dissertation prospectus. Once the supervisory committee approves, you will present the prospectus at an oral colloquium. The program advisor then recommends that you be admitted to ABD status to Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

PhD dissertation policies and guidelines

According to Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies policies, you must prepare and defend your dissertations. The suggested length of the doctoral dissertation is 60,000 to 80,000 words.

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Applicants for graduate study must have completed an undergraduate degree in an accredited college or university. GRE scores will not be considered in the admission process. Admission will depend not only on the achievement and promise of the applicant as attested through transcripts and letters of recommendation, but also on the clarity of the applicant's statement of interest and aims, and on the compatibility of the applicant's interests with the resources of the department.

The application deadline for the PhD program is  December 15  for the following Fall.  While MA applications are accepted through May 1, priority review of MA applications starts  on January 15 .

I. Personal Statement

This statement should be no more than two or three pages long. Its main task is to outline your intellectual preparation and agenda, and why that agenda is best pursued in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. When writing your personal statement, please mention, on the first line, the area of study within the Department to which you are applying.

II. Application Procedure

Create your account and submit your application through the Graduate School’s application management system . All graduate applications to the University of Virginia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are handled by the Admissions Office of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and not by the Department of Religious Studies.

The Department of Religious Studies does not have any printed information about its Graduate Program other than what is found on this website. If you have questions, please contact the Graduate Coordinator .

III. Master's Promotion Program for UVA Undergraduates

The Department offers an expedited admission process for UVA undergraduates seeking the MA degree in Religious Studies. This process both eases the admissions process and allows students to take courses that will count toward the MA while still enrolled as undergraduates. In some cases, this allows for the completion of the BA and the MA in a total of five years.

Third-year students who wish to be considered for admission to this program should submit their application by May 14 . Those students accepted into the program will take two graduate-level courses (5000 or above) in their final year of undergraduate study, which will be credited toward their MA degree. In the following year, they will continue at the University as MA students and fulfill the Religious Studies MA degree requirements, which include a foreign language requirement. (For a fuller description of these requirements, visit the MA Degree Requirements page.) Students must complete their BA at the end of their fourth year and must remain in residence at the University for their fifth year.

Eligibility: This program is open to students from any major who can show reasonable preparation and purpose for graduate work in Religious Studies, and who have a minimum GPA of 3.4 in coursework relevant to the MA.

Note: The credits for the two graduate courses taken in the undergraduate years cannot be counted toward the Religious Studies major or toward the 120 credits required by the College of Arts and Sciences for the BA degree.

Applications should be submitted by email to the Graduate Coordinator and should include the following:

  • A letter of interest that includes a 500-word statement of purpose outlining the intellectual interests to be pursued in the MA program. A strong statement will also include some discussion of how the applicant’s previous coursework in the Religious Studies Department has prepared her or him for graduate study.
  • A transcript (or transcripts) of undergraduate work (including grades for the third-year spring term)
  • A writing sample that demonstrates the applicant’s ability to mount and sustain an argument. Writing samples should be ten pages or longer.
  • Two letters of reference from professors in the Religious Studies Department. All letters of reference should be submitted directly to the Religious Studies Graduate Coordinator.

Those students approved to enter the program will still need to apply through the Graduate School application in the fall of their 4th year (online applications open September 1). These students should indicate on the application that they have been accepted to the Master's Promotion program, and will have a streamlined application as a result. Thanks to a special arrangement with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, students do not need to take the GRE or pay an application fee in order to apply.

IV. Frequently Asked Questions

Do your phd students find jobs after graduation.

Yes. Despite an unusually tight job market, the majority of our doctoral students do extremely well on this front. Most go on to academic appointments in a variety of settings—post-doc appointments, lectureships, and tenure-track positions in liberal arts colleges, public universities, and private universities. Some elect to work in administrative jobs in higher education or decide upon employment in other fields. Most finishing MA. students go on to enter a PhD program in theology, religious studies, or a related field. In recent years, our PhD graduates have been hired at in tenured or tenure-track positions at Yale, Northwestern, Cambridge, William and Mary, Temple, VCU, University of Washington, Liberty, Naropa, University of Kansas, Davidson, Bates, Earlham, Gonzaga, Creighton, and many other universities, colleges, and divinity schools.

How difficult is it to get accepted to your program?

We accept about eleven doctoral students a year out of an applicant pool of over 130. The typical admitted student has a GPA over 3.8 from a competitive university or college and very strong letters of recommendation.  Applicants admitted into the MA program are occasionally a bit weaker but often have scores comparable to those of the PhD applicants, though they may be slightly lower.

If I have high grades, am I sure to be admitted?

No. We regularly turn down students with 4.0 grade point averages. This is true for both the MA and PhD programs.

What makes the difference?

Two things are crucial: First, the "fit,” which is the compatibility between the student’s interests and the scholarly competence of the faculty. Second, a strong statement of purpose that shows engagement with the proposed area of study and the critical acumen needed to undertake significant original research. For MA applicants, the “fit” can be a bit looser, but the statement remains crucial, even if less narrowly research oriented.

How important is my statement of purpose?

Very, it can make or break an application.

What are some application mistakes that are easy to avoid?

PhD applicants should make sure that they propose a course of study that fits with the research specialization of the faculty. Applicants may want to check with faculty in their research area to see if there is a preferred language preparation. MA applicants should make sure to propose a course of study that falls within their areas of academic competence.

How can I find out the research specialties of the faculty?

Consult the descriptions of their interests on the faculty page ; or, better, read their books and articles and email them.

What is the best reason to apply to your UVA’s PhD program as opposed to other schools?

You are familiar with the research of one or more of our faculty members  and want to learn more. Students applying to a PhD program are really applying to undertake their studies with one or more of our faculty members, not simply to take classes in a program. On a broader scale, the same is true for MA applicants.

If I get in what kind of funding might I receive?

At the doctoral level it is our policy to provide individual health insurance for the student, a tuition waiver, and a fellowship and/or teaching assistantship of about $20,000 for every student admitted, often with additional summer funding. The financial aid package typically lasts for five years.

Does financial need count?

Only when you’re applying for the Federal Work Study Program. As said above, we normally fund all students accepted to the doctoral program.

Do your MA students have preference for admission to your PhD program?

No. All applicants who have an MA are evaluated according to the same criteria and within the same pool of applicants.

What is the best way to find out if your program is for me?

Go to our faculty page , identify a few faculty members whose interests parallel your own, and then email those professors.

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To understand the contemporary world, you must understand the nature and impact of religion.

What is Religious Studies?

Religious studies is an interdisciplinary field that investigates human religious traditions in all their historical, cultural and doctrinal complexity and their impact on all aspects of human affairs. It gives you the opportunity to study the history, texts and practices of well-known religions — including Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam — as well as lesser known religions, such as Vodou or Wicca.

Program Overview

Rather than approaching religions from the standpoint of believers, our program allows you to investigate these complicated traditions of beliefs and practices from a neutral perspective, seeking to understand:

  • how they have come about,
  • what they are made of,
  • why their practitioners do what they do and
  • how they affect other aspects of humanity, culture, society and politics.
  • Minor in Religious Studies

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Undergraduate admissions.

Start your application with the NC State admissions office.

Apply now 

Add or Change a Major or Minor

Are you interested in adding a second major or changing your degree? We can help.

How to start the process 

What Can I Do With My Degree?

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A major or minor in religious studies at NC State will help prepare you for both work and further study. The programs provide:

  • Knowledge and skills that are useful for careers in many fields , including advertising, consulting, diplomacy, editing and publishing, educating the public, fund-raising, humanitarianism, journalism, marketing, museum projects, non-profit operations, public relations, public service, and the military.
  • Solid foundations for professional training in fields as diverse as education, human rights, international studies, law, library science, management, medicine, ministry, public administration, and social work.
  • Excellent preparation for graduate studies in the humanities and social sciences, including anthropology, cultural studies, history, political science, religious studies, and theology.

Additional Resources

For more information, see:

  •   Religious Studies: What Can I do With This Major?  (University of Tennessee)
  •   Religious Studies: Where Can I Go With It?  (American Academy of Religion)
  •   Careers in RELS  (University of Oklahoma)
  •   Humanities Grads Gainfully Employed and Happy  ( Inside Higher Ed , February 2018)

Alumni Job Titles

To give you an idea of where your degree can lead, here’s a list of job titles for some of our alumni:

  • Assistant Editor, Sports Business Daily
  • QA Tester, Epic Games Inc.
  • HR Manager, Red Hat
  • Business Services Coordinator, NC State University
  • General Surgeon, Bristol Surgical Associates, P.C.
  • Realtor, Green Fox Realty
  • Communications Manager, Verizon
  • Program Assistant, NC Rural Center
  • Researcher, Town of Old Salem

Activities and Events

The department sponsors public lectures and forums on a wide range of topics through the Religious Studies Colloquium Series and the new annual Impact of Religion Series.

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Why Study Religion?

Religion is a major force in the human world:

  • It’s a source of meaning, explanation, comfort and guidance for the vast majority of the world’s population.
  • It fuels liberation and oppression, progress and persecution, cooperation and conflict.
  • It makes a big difference to the ways in which human beings approach the most important challenges that they face, including challenges arising from advances in science and technology, social and economic change, globalization, competition, infectious diseases and natural disasters.
  • It has an enormous impact on national and international affairs.

The problems of humanity and human affairs cannot be understood or effectively addressed without an understanding of religion and its influence.

Whatever your primary interests, one or more courses in religious studies will improve your understanding of humanity and human beings, and will enhance your capacity to make sense of views and perspectives different from your own.

If you take a major or minor in religious studies you will be trained to interpret and evaluate different aspects of religion and religious traditions, and to think critically, constructively, and independently about important issues such as the comparison of religious traditions, the relationship between beliefs and practices, the justification of religious beliefs, the interpretation of sacred texts, religious ethics and the role and impact of religions in modern societies.

You will develop your capacity to understand, criticize and construct arguments about religions, identify and engage major issues in the field, and elaborate your ideas and present them – whether orally or in written form – in a clear, coherent and well-organized form.

  •   Why Study Religion?  (American Academy of Religion)
  •   Why Study Religion?  (Mark Wallace, Swarthmore College)
  •   Religion and Diplomacy  (John Kerry,  America , September 2015)

Connect With Us

Undergraduate program contacts.

Jason Bivins , senior advisor in religious studies 447 Withers Hall Phone: 919-515-6102

Ms. Kendall Hubbard , student services associate Email: [email protected] Phone: 919-515-6100

Meet Our Faculty

Our faculty come from a variety of backgrounds. Find a full listing  here .

Religious Degrees

Ph.D. in Biblical Studies

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Written by John Stafford

Masters of Arts in Religious Studies – University of Chicago

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If you’re curious about discovering the origins, meanings, and explanations of passages in the Bible, then following this path from a Bachelor’s degree to a Master’s and finally to a PhD in Biblical Studies is like setting sail on a journey full of amazing discoveries. It’s a way to understand deep things and feel more connected to the history of human beliefs. 

Let’s start this journey together, exploring the road of learning, finding new ideas, and feeling spiritually fulfilled. This amazing adventure is just beginning — keep reading to find out what wisdom, learning, and personal growth awaits you.

What is a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies?

Having a PhD in Biblical Studies is an advanced academic degree that specializes in studying the Bible, the texts, the historical context, interpretation, and the languages of it, along with related fields and disciplines. It is common for universities and seminaries with strong religious studies departments to offer this program to individuals with a strong interest in understanding the Bible from a critical, historical, and academic perspective.

Ph.D. in Biblical Studies Courses 

what can i do with a phd in religious studies

A detailed analysis, interpretation, and research of biblical texts, including the Old and New Testaments, is part of the program. In order to gain a deeper understanding of the original texts, students may also study related ancient languages such as Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. PhD studies in Biblical Studies often contribute to a wider academic understanding of the Bible’s origins, evolution, cultural impact, and interpretation.

The specific areas of focus within a PhD in Biblical Studies can vary widely and may include:

  • Textual criticism: It refers to the study of how biblical texts have evolved and been transmitted through time.
  • Historical context: Investigating the social, political, and cultural environments in which the biblical texts were written.
  • Literary analysis: Exploring the literary forms, genres, and rhetorical techniques used in biblical writing.
  • Theology: Studying the Bible from a theological standpoint and analyzing its theological lessons, concepts, and teachings.
  • Hermeneutics: The discipline that deals with the more traditional methods of interpreting and understanding the Bible in different contexts.
  • Archaeology: Using archaeological evidence to enhance the understanding of biblical history and geography.
  • Comparative religion: Comparing the Bible with other religious books or traditions so as to determine how they relate to each other.

How to Get a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies?

what can i do with a phd in religious studies

Getting a PhD in Biblical Studies is a rigorous and specialized academic journey that requires dedication, research skills, and a strong commitment to the subject matter. Here’s a general outline of the steps you might take to pursue a PhD in Biblical Studies:

  • Obtain a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, such as Religious Studies, Theology, Ancient Languages, or a related area.
  • Some programs may require a Master’s degree before entering the PhD program, while others accept students directly from a Bachelor’s program.
  • Biblical Studies is a broad field, so consider which area you are most passionate about, whether it’s Old Testament, New Testament, textual criticism, archaeology, or another aspect of biblical research.
  • Look for universities or seminaries that offer PhD programs in Biblical Studies and have faculty members whose research aligns with your interests.
  • Evaluate the program’s curriculum, faculty expertise, research opportunities, and resources.
  • Prepare your application, which typically includes transcripts, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose outlining your research interests, and sometimes writing samples.
  • Depending on the program, you might have to take the GRE (Graduate Record Examination).
  • Upon acceptance, you’ll begin your coursework. This will often include advanced studies in biblical languages (such as Greek and Hebrew), research methods, and specialized seminars related to your chosen area of study.
  • After completing coursework, you’ll likely need to pass comprehensive exams to demonstrate your mastery of the field. These exams cover a broad range of topics related to your specialization.
  • Develop a research proposal for your doctoral dissertation. This should outline your research questions, methodology, and significance of your project.
  • Engage in extensive research under the guidance of your advisor. This may involve reading primary sources, secondary literature, and conducting original research.
  • Write your dissertation, which is a substantial and original contribution to the field. It should demonstrate your mastery of the subject and your ability to conduct scholarly research.
  • Defend your dissertation before a committee of faculty members. This involves presenting your research findings and answering questions from the committee.
  • Upon successful defense and any necessary revisions, you’ll complete the requirements for your PhD.
  • You’ll receive your doctoral degree and be prepared to contribute to academia, research, teaching, and other scholarly activities.
  • With a PhD in Biblical Studies, you can pursue academic careers as professors, researchers, or scholars in universities or seminaries.
  • You might also engage in writing, publishing, and contributing to discussions related to religious studies and biblical interpretation.

To ensure that the program aligns with your academic and professional goals, it’s important to thoroughly research each program you’re interested in and reach out to potential advisors.

Best Online Ph.D. in Biblical Studies

what can i do with a phd in religious studies

Among the universities that were known for offering online PhD programs in Biblical Studies, the following are a few:

  • Calvary University – Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies

Typically, it takes four years for Calvary University students to earn a Doctor of Philosophy in Bible and Theology, which can be earned online or on campus. A typical first-year course consists of Biblical exegesis, a second-year course consists of Biblical synthesis, a third-year course consists of systematic theology, and a fourth-year dissertation. Calvary University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  • Clarks Summit University – Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies

Several concentrations are available at Clarks Summit University’s Baptist Bible Seminary, including Old Testament, New Testament, Systematic Theology, and Exposition of Scripture. This program can mostly be completed online with some one-week modules on campus. Students must complete 60 credit hours of coursework and a dissertation in order to graduate. Clarks Summit University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  • Columbia International University – Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies

In 5 years of part-time study or 3 years of full-time study, Columbia International University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies online program. It offers students individualized guidance and faculty mentoring. It takes 45 credit hours to complete the full program and a dissertation is required. CIU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  • Faulkner University – Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies

There is an online Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies program available at Faulkner University. Students can complete their dissertation defense via conference call. The program is fully online, so students can study on their own time. Students must pass language proficiency tests in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek in order to graduate. Faulkner University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  • Lancaster Bible College – Ph.D. in Biblical Studies

It takes just 3.5 years to complete Lancaster Bible College’s PhD in Biblical Studies, which is offered in a hybrid format. There are 16 weeks in each class and students must attend three 6-day residencies each year. In addition, students progress through Lancaster Bible College in cohorts of 12 to 18 peers. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education accredits Lancaster Bible College.

  • Liberty University – Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies

There are eight weeks of classes in the Doctorate of Biblical Studies program at Liberty University. It typically takes about two years to complete. A variety of courses are offered, including Theology of the Gospel, The Theory and Practice of Biblical Theology, and The Bible and Pastor (Usage of Scripture in Pastoral Ministry). The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accredit Liberty University.

  • Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary – Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies

Doctor of Philosophy in Biblical Studies is offered by Midwest Baptist Theological Seminary. The program requires the completion of 52 credits and a dissertation and usually takes at least four years to complete. Emphasis areas include Old Testament, New Testament, and Biblical Theology. The Higher Learning Commission accredited Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

  • Regent University – Ph.D. in Biblical Studies

It is possible to complete Regent’s PhD in Renewal Theology online with a concentration in Biblical Studies. A two-week residency is required on campus each fall for students to graduate. The program requires 60 credit hours, including a dissertation. Courses include Advanced Hermeneutics, Advanced Cosmogony and Anthropology, and Renewal Theology. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accredits Regent University.

  • Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary – Ph.D. in Biblical Studies

Students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary can major in either Old Testament or New Testament Biblical Studies. A PhD student at SWBTS also has to choose a minor. Distance learners can attend seminars virtually. They have to hold a master’s and be fluent in Hebrew and Greek to apply. It’s accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

What Can I Do with a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies?

what can i do with a phd in religious studies

With a PhD in Biblical Studies, you can pursue a variety of career paths, primarily in academia, research, and specialized roles within religious institutions. Here are some examples:

  • University Professor: You can become a professor in a university or seminary, teaching courses on biblical texts, languages, history, interpretation, theology, and related subjects.
  • Researcher: Work as a researcher in academic or religious institutions, contributing to the advancement of knowledge in the field through original research, publications, and presentations at conferences.
  • Author and Writer: Write scholarly books, articles, and papers on biblical topics, contributing to academic literature and engaging with broader religious and scholarly communities.
  • Curator or Museum Specialist: A curator or museum specialist is one who works in museums or cultural institutions, specializing in artifacts, manuscripts, and exhibitions that are related to biblical history and archaeology.
  • Theologian: Contribute to theological discussions, ethical debates, and the development of religious thought based on your deep understanding of biblical texts and their implications.
  • Religious Educator: Develop curriculum and teach courses for religious education programs, workshops, or online platforms, helping individuals deepen their understanding of the Bible.
  • Biblical Consultant: Provide expertise to religious organizations, authors, media productions, and filmmakers seeking accurate and scholarly input on biblical matters.
  • Academic Administration: Take on administrative roles within academic institutions, overseeing departments, curriculum development, and academic programs.
  • Interfaith Dialogue and Community Outreach: Use your knowledge of biblical texts to engage in interfaith dialogue, community education, and fostering understanding among diverse religious groups.
  • Nonprofit and Religious Leadership: Lead or contribute to religious or nonprofit organizations, guiding their missions, teachings, and community initiatives.
  • Online Educator: Offer online courses, webinars, or virtual lectures on biblical topics through platforms or your own educational website.
  • Archivist or Librarian: Work in libraries or archives that specialize in religious texts, helping to preserve, catalog, and make these resources accessible to scholars and the public.

It’s important to note that job prospects and the specific roles available may vary based on factors such as your area of specialization, the demand for your expertise, and the state of the academic and religious job markets at any given time. Networking, attending conferences, publishing your research, and staying updated on developments in the field can all contribute to your success in finding a fulfilling career with a PhD in Biblical Studies.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does it take to get a PhD in Biblical Studies?

The duration of a PhD in Biblical Studies depends on the institution, the student’s prior academic background, and the rate at which the student progresses through the program. PhD programs in Biblical Studies take between 4 and 6 years to finish. This includes coursework, comprehensive exams, research, writing the dissertation, and defending it.

  • Is a PhD in Biblical Studies worth it?

If you are deeply passionate about academic exploration of the Bible and related fields, a PhD in Biblical Studies can be highly worthwhile. You can participate in scholarly research, engage in critical analysis of biblical texts, and explore the historical and cultural context of the biblical world through this program. 

However, it is important to think about your career objectives. A PhD is generally required if you wish to become a university professor, researcher, or scholar. It is intellectually fulfilling and professionally rewarding to pursue knowledge and contribute to the understanding of the Bible from an academic perspective.

  • What is the highest degree in Biblical Studies?

The highest academic degree attainable in the field of Biblical Studies is the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Biblical Studies. It signifies the scholar’s advanced expertise in the study of the Bible, its texts, historical context, interpretation, and related fields. 

While other degrees such as a Master of Divinity (MDiv) or a Master of Arts (MA) in Biblical Studies provide solid foundations, a PhD represents the pinnacle of scholarly achievement, giving individuals the opportunity to conduct original research, contribute to the field’s knowledge base, and educate future generations.

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  3. The 9 Best Online Schools for Ph.D. in Religious Studies in 2021

    what can i do with a phd in religious studies

  4. What Can You Do with a Religious Studies Degree?

    what can i do with a phd in religious studies

  5. Religious Studies Careers

    what can i do with a phd in religious studies

  6. Fully Funded PhD Programs In Religious Studies

    what can i do with a phd in religious studies

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  1. grad school vlog

  2. PhD student (with ADHD) vlog

  3. Pursue PhD Or Take Up A Job? What To Choose?

  4. Before Class 11th ,I Will Do PHD in Physics 😂😂 But Now I Am 12th Pass 🤣 #science #neet #jee

  5. a chaotic grad school vlog 💫 presenting at academic conferences & struggling with time management

  6. Prospective PhD Student Information Session for Penn Religious Studies (October 9, 2023)

COMMENTS

  1. Your complete guide to a PhD in Theology and Religious Studies

    Engaging in a Theology and Religious Studies programme offers a journey into the heart of world religions. Here's what you'll learn: In-depth knowledge of major world religions and their beliefs, practices, and historical contexts, Philosophical and ethical issues arising from religious beliefs, Interpretation and analysis of religious texts ...

  2. PhD Program

    The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program is jointly offered by HDS and the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Find detailed information about PhD fields of study and program requirements on the Committee on the Study of Religion website. With a focus on global religions, religion and culture, and forces that shape religious traditions and thought, the PhD prepares ...

  3. Ph.D. in Religious Studies

    Because the program draws on the Department of Religious Studies, the Divinity School, and other departments and professional schools in the University, it offers one of the most rigorous and wide-ranging Ph.D.'s in the country.

  4. Graduate Program

    Waco, TX 76706. One Bear Place #97284. Waco, TX 76798-7284. [email protected]. (254) 710-3735. Our Religion Department provides the context for a flourishing Ph.D. program with concentrations offered in the Old Testament, New Testament, Historical, and Theological Areas. Faculty are committed to a strong research agenda, and that ...

  5. Fully Funded PhD Programs in Religion and Theology

    In addition, students receive three funded summers of support. University of Notre Dame, Ph.D. in Theology ( Notre Dame , IN): Full-time students in good standing are eligible to receive a 12-month annual stipend (an amount of $23,000 for students starting in 2018-2019) for up to five years and a full-tuition scholarship for up to eight years.

  6. Ph.D. Program in Religion

    For students seeking their Ph.D. in Religion, the Graduate Program in Religion—part of the Duke Graduate School—offers a Ph.D. program. Although this program is not housed with the Department of Religious Studies, it is a collaboration between the Department and Duke Divinity School. The program includes the following 9 fields of study, also called tracks, in which students can concentrate ...

  7. Ph.D. in the Study of Religion

    The doctor of philosophy (PhD) program in religion at Harvard dates from 1934, when the Faculty of Arts and Sciences established a degree of PhD in "The History and Philosophy of Religion." Its purpose, as stated by the Faculty, was "to make possible a course of studies which shall enable the candidate both to lay a broad and sufficient ...

  8. Description of PhD Program

    The Religion PhD program provides an opportunity for qualified students to do graduate work in this discipline at the highest level and in the university setting. It provides preparation for research and teaching in graduate theological education and in the college and university setting where religion is taught as one of the liberal arts and in relation to other such disciplines, particularly ...

  9. Doctoral Programs (Ph.D)

    RAM: Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean. Director of Undergraduate Studies, William A. Dyer Jr. Assistant Professor of the Humanities. [email protected]. ART: Asian Religious Traditions. We offer Ph.D. study in four areas: Asian Religious Traditions, Islam, Society and Culture, Religion and Critical Thought, and Religions of the ...

  10. PHD, Religion

    The Phd in Religion allows one to focus on an area of study, generating a book-length manuscript, and also provides opportunities in preparation for teaching in Religious Studies. Areas of concentration: Global Religions and Religions in America. Degree Type: Doctoral. Degree Program Code: PHD_RELI.

  11. Religious Studies

    Apply Now. Students must enroll in one of the following fields of study: American Religious History, Asian Religions, Early Mediterranean and West Asian Religions, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Islamic Studies, Medieval and Modern Judaism, Philosophy of Religion, Religion and Modernity, Religious Ethics, and Theology.

  12. A Guide to Seminaries, Divinity Schools, Theology and Religious Studies

    A Guide to Religious Higher Education. The study of religion at the collegiate or graduate level can be approached from an academic perspective, a faith-based point of view or a combination of the ...

  13. Ph.D. in Biblical & Theological Studies

    The Ph.D. Committee in Biblical a nd Theological Studies is pleased to announce the addition of Dr. Andrew Abernethy as a new Ph.D. Mentor in Old Testament. Dr. Abernethy will be accepting students for the Fall of 2024. His areas of interest are Isaiah, Psalms, and the Prophets, Theological/Canonical Interpretation, Literary-thematic approaches ...

  14. Religious Studies, PhD < University of Iowa

    Religious Studies, PhD. The doctoral program in the Department of Religious Studies trains participants to become advanced practitioners of the study of religion as researchers, scholars, teachers, and facilitators of informed public discourse. Some graduates become professors at colleges or universities while others bring a nuanced, critical ...

  15. PhD Program

    PhD Religious Studies. One of the first graduate programs in Religious Studies in Canada (established in 1964), McMaster University has been a leading center for the scholarly study of religion for nearly six decades. We have three graduate fields of study (Asian, Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity and Western) and research is conducted in a ...

  16. PhD in Religion

    PhD in Religion. Students must complete a minimum of three full years of residential study beyond the bachelor's degree (or two years beyond the M.A., or its equivalent, if earned elsewhere than UGA), exceptions to this rule being permitted only with the approval of the Department and Graduate School. This can be gained either by.

  17. Ph.D. in Religious Studies

    A Ph.D. in Religious Studies program is an advanced academic degree program that builds on the knowledge gained through undergraduate and graduate studies. Research-intensive, it requires a high level of dedication and commitment to religion. Using different methodologies and perspectives, Ph.D. students can examine religious traditions from ...

  18. 4 Careers You Can Have with a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies

    Social Work. People with a strong desire to help others in all walks of life often pursue an online Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Faulkner University. Social work can be a natural career after graduation. Social work enables graduates to focus on people of all ages experiencing hardships such as homelessness, poverty, abuse, and addiction.

  19. Ph.D. Degree Requirements

    Ph.D. Degree Requirements. The Ph.D. program is designed to prepare persons for academic leadership and professional careers as teacher-scholars in schools, colleges, universities, and schools of theology. Students focus their work in one of six specialized fields of study: Requirements: Satisfactory completion of 48 credit hours of approved ...

  20. PhD in Religious Studies

    PhD Religious Studies. Students in the PhD Religious Studies write two essay exams. First, you write a general comprehensive exam on the ancient Near East and Mediterranean religious traditions, beginning with Gilgamesh, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The second essay exam is in a special field. In consultation with the Religious ...

  21. How to Apply

    Applications should be submitted by email to the Graduate Coordinator and should include the following: A letter of interest that includes a 500-word statement of purpose outlining the intellectual interests to be pursued in the MA program. A strong statement will also include some discussion of how the applicant's previous coursework in the ...

  22. Religious Studies

    Religious studies is an interdisciplinary field that investigates human religious traditions in all their historical, cultural and doctrinal complexity and their impact on all aspects of human affairs. It gives you the opportunity to study the history, texts and practices of well-known religions — including Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism ...

  23. Ph.D. in Biblical Studies

    Having a PhD in Biblical Studies is an advanced academic degree that specializes in studying the Bible, the texts, the historical context, interpretation, and the languages of it, along with related fields and disciplines. It is common for universities and seminaries with strong religious studies departments to offer this program to individuals ...

  24. The Crisis in Children's Ministry: A Call to Action ...

    Hello Church! Tonight's service will be watching Pastor Allen's interview with Dr. George Barna entitled, "The Crisis in Children's Ministry: A Call to...