Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree in the field of Religion

Program Learning Outcomes for the PhD Degree in the field of Religion

Upon completing the PhD Degree in the field of Religion, students will be able to:

  1. Develop and apply critical toolkit to the study of religion and religious traditions, including (inter)disciplinary methodologies and theories at a professional level. 
    (Critical Skills for the Study of Religion: Theory, Method and (Inter)Disciplinarity)
  2. Understand and interpret religious traditions by examining religion(s) as historical, social, and cultural phenomena. When appropriate, attention is given to the impact of globalism, immigration, colonialism, and other forms of transnational and multi-cultural (non)religious exchanges at a professional level. 
    (Historical, Social, (Multi-)Cultural Dimensions of Religion)
  3. Understand and interpret the subjective dimensions of religion(s) through analyses that explore the psychological, philosophical, and cognitive dynamics of religion and religious experience at a professional level. 
    (Psychological, Philosophical and Cognitive Dimensions of Relgion)
  4. Understand and interpret religions traditions by examining the plurality of religious voice and expressions, including currents that have been marginalized, neglected, repressed, and censored in a variety of sociological, psychological, philosophical, and political ways at a professional level. 
    (Religious Plurality and Marginal Currents)
  5. Develop the ability to read and understand relevant scholarly research/literature that has been published in foreign languages. Develop the ability to read religious texts in their original languages and perform translations of texts when appropriate to the student's course of study at a professional level. 
    (Foreign Language Skills)
  6. Develop the ability to communicate effectively (inter)disciplinary knowledge and critical research in the classroom, at professional conferences, and in academic publications at a professional level.
    (Communication: Pedagogy and Professionalism)

Requirements for the MA and PhD Degrees in the field of Religion

MA Degree Program

The MA degree is a non-thesis master’s degree. For general university requirements, please see Non-Thesis Master's Degrees. Although students are not normally admitted to study for this non-thesis MA, graduate students may earn the MA after obtaining approval of their candidacy for the PhD.


Total Credit Hours Required for the MA Degree in the field of Religion30

PhD Degree Program

For general university requirements, please see Doctoral Degrees. The graduate program accepts a limited number of qualified students. A distinguished undergraduate record and high scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are essential, and an advanced degree in the humanities is desirable. Students admitted into the program normally will receive financial assistance in the form of a tuition waiver and a stipend. As part of their training and in return for their stipends, students are expected to perform a minimum amount of services in return for their stipend by assisting the department as needed.

The PhD degree in the field of Religion is a five to eight year program. Students pursuing the PhD degree in the field of Religion must complete the following:

  • A minimum of 36 credit hours taken in 500 and 600-level seminars.
  • 2 Graduate Methods Seminars: RELI 527 and RELI 559.
  • Successful completion of the second-year review.
  • Passing grades on reading examinations in two secondary research languages (French and German) before taking qualifying exams.
  • Passing grades in 4 comprehensive examinations.
  • Oral discussion of dissertation proposal.
  • Satisfactory completion of dissertation and oral defense.


Total Credit Hours Required for the PhD Degree in the field of Religion90

Reading Lists

Reading lists are available for all Qualifying Exams. Students are expected to familiarize themselves with this material enough that they draw on it on their exams and the dissertation itself. The graduate seminar is, in part, an introduction to areas of the reading list and to the techniques for engaging in deep, independent reading.

Policies for the PhD Degree in the field of Religion 

Department of Religion Graduate Program Handbook

The General Announcements (GA) is the official Rice curriculum. As an additional resource for students, the Department of Religion publishes a graduate program handbook, which can be found here:

Additional Information 

For additional information, please see the Religion website:

Opportunities for the PhD Degree in the field of Religion  

Professional Development

Opportunities are available to teach undergraduate courses in the department. Students are encouraged to pursue teaching opportunities at colleges and universities. Limited funds also are available for students to attend conferences to present their research. The department encourages these and other efforts to prepare students for academic careers.

See for tables of fellowships, prizes, and internships/practica that may be relevant to this degree.

Additional Information 

For additional information, please see the Religion website: