Students are admitted to the Ph.D. program in Religion to conduct innovative and interdisciplinary research in one concentration and one traditional or regional religious culture (see the Graduate Program Description). They may choose a secondary concentration or religious culture as well.
The student seeking the Ph.D. in religion must hold the M.A. in religion (or its equivalent) and earn 48 additional credits:
- 36 credits for course work in 3-credit seminars, 24 of which must be taken in the Department of Religion.
- 12 credits for dissertation research.
Students must take the departmental seminar in their concentration during each semester of their course work.
Students must also enroll in REL 601-603 during both of their first two semesters, and then pass a proficiency exam in theories of religion at the end of the second semester in the Ph.D. program. (A student that has passed the exam while completing an M.A. in the Syracuse Religion Department is exempt from taking courses and the exam again).
The student must demonstrate competence in at least two languages other than English, one before matriculation into the Ph.D. program and the other before the beginning of the third year of study. Students will not be permitted to sit for comprehensive examinations until they satisfy the language requirement.
After completing course work, students are required to pass a set of three comprehensive examinations on:
- their chosen traditional or regional religious culture,
- their chosen concentration, and
- a problem of their choosing, in consultation with their advisor.
The problem examination will be graded as a written exam, but also on the basis of an "oral review" with the examining faculty members.
The Ph.D. requires that students write a dissertation. Any Professor or Associate Professor in the Department of Religion may direct dissertation research.
Students must write a dissertation prospectus with their director’s advice that sets forth the dissertation topic and justifies its importance, describes the dissertation’s main lines of argumentation, provides a chapter-by-chapter projection of its contents, and contains a bibliography. The prospectus will be evaluated a three-person faculty prospectus committee.
Students must then write the dissertation. They will earn the Ph.D. degree after successfully defending it orally before a five-person faculty dissertation committee.
Most students admitted to the Ph.D. program receive a Teaching Assistantship that includes a full tuition scholarship, an annual stipend, and health care benefits. The T.A. is for five years, contingent on the student making adequate progress towards the degree.
In the first three years of Ph.D. study, T.A. duties consist of being an assistant in a faculty member’s class. T.A.s get assigned to classes each semester based on class enrollments and on requests from faculty and students.
After students pass their comprehensive exams, they may teach an undergraduate course of their own design (REL 320) under the supervision of a faculty teaching mentor. In their fifth year in the program, they are asked to teach one lower division catalog course each semester in consultation with their teaching mentor and the faculty who usually teach that course.
Graduate School Rescources
Acquired Tastes: Virtue, Community, and Eating Ethically
Christopher Fouche – 2017
The Worship of Medicine Master Buddha in Medieval China
Yujing Chen – 2017
A ‘Circle in a Rectangle’: Native Evangelicals, Trans-Indigenous Networks, and the Negotiation between Legitimation and Evasion
Jason Purvis – 2017
The Influence of Sacred Stories and Sacred Role Models on the Gender Role Construction of First and Second Generation Indian Hindu Women in the United States
Diane Lillesand – 2017
With Child: Pregnancy and the Balance of Autonomy and Dependence
Amy Brown – 2015
Huaigan and the Growth of Pure Land Buddhism During the Tang Era
Kendall R. Marchman – 2015
The Vat Sithor Inscription: Translation, Commentary, and Reflections on Buddhist Traditions in Tenth-Century Cambodia
Phillip Green – 2014
The Goddess and the King: Camundesvari and the Fashioning of the Wodeyar Court of Mysore
Caleb Simmons – 2014
An Inconvenient Faith? Conservative Christianity, Climate Change, and the End of the World
Robin Globus Veldman – 2014
Building the Latter-day Kingdom in the Americas: The Florida Fort Lauderdale Mission
Gayle Lasater Pagnoni – 2013
Religion, Ethics, Nature in Secondary School Education: Exploring Religion’s Role in Sustainability Trends
Bridgette O’Brien McGoldrick – 2013
Contested Combinations: Evangelical, Pentecostal and Catholic Convergence among Latin Americans and U.S. Latinos in the Anglican Communion
Sean O’Neil – 2012
From Values to Practice: Sustainable Agriculture and the Return of Place in North American Religious Agrarianism
Todd LeVasseur – 2011
Hijra and Homegrown Agriculture: Farming among American Muslim Communities
Eleanor Finnegan – 2011
Mary Midgley and the Mixed Community in Environmental Ethics and Religious Studies
Gregory McElwain – 2011
The Faith to Save Mountains: Religion and Resistance to Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining in Appalachia
Joseph Witt – 2011
Women in Gray Robes: Continuity in the Traditional and Contemporary Religious Identity of Korean Buddhist Nuns
Chungwhan Sung – 2011
Tangible Hope: Cuban Protestantism in the post-Soviet Era
Rose Caraway – 2011
The God without Borders and the Mexican Dream: Religion, Space, and Migration in El Alberto, Hidalgo
Leah Sarat – 2010
Translating, Practicing and Commodifying Yoga in the U.S.
Shreena Gandhi – 2009
The Religious Dimensions of Sustainability
Lucas Johnston – 2009
From Krishna Cult to American Church: The Dialectical Quest for Spiritual Dwelling in the Modern Krishna Movement in the West
Michael Gressett – 2009
Casting for Conservation: Religion, Popular Culture, and the Politics of River Restoration
Samuel Snyder – 2008
Howling about the Land: Religion, Social Space, and Wolf Reintroduction in the Southwestern United States
Gavin Van Horn – 2008