Doctoral Degree

The Ph.D. program trains future scholars to write and teach in colleges, universities, or seminaries. Students have entered with bachelor's or master's degrees from prestigious colleges and universities throughout North America and the world.

The department has strengths in the areas of ethics, philosophy, and politics; Religions of the Americas; Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Religions; South Asian Religions; the history of Christianity; the comparative and transnational study of Islam; Chinese thought; Jewish thought and culture in the medieval and modern worlds, and some aspects of Buddhist studies.

The faculty of the Department is strongly committed to the training and mentoring of graduate students, who embody the future of the academic study of religion. Every faculty member is available to offer you advice and to talk with you about your interests and concerns, but the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) should be your first stop for information about requirements, financial aid, and the like. The DGS is assisted by the Department’s Graduate Secretary, a staff member who handles much of the essential paperwork and other practical matters. The DGS chairs the Graduate Studies Committee, which decides on graduate admissions, discusses policy issues, and makes final determinations on exceptions to requirements, prize competitions, and the like.

The person primarily responsible for getting you through your graduate program in an efficient and successful manner, however, is you. Because the faculty member who serves as the DGS changes regularly and other faculty go on leaves, you are the element of continuity during your time at IU. It behooves you to familiarize yourself with the requirements of your degree program and to take the initiative in formulating a plan to meet those requirements. For further information, see the Graduate Student Guide (PDF).

Doctoral Fields of Study

The doctoral program is divided into a number of formal fields of study that correspond to the expertise of current departmental faculty. They are designed to help students develop the areas of knowledge and linguistic and interpretive skills necessary in these subfields within the academic study of religion. However, all doctoral students should plan to become fully conversant in broader debates and issues in Religious Studies; we aim to produce agile analysts of religion equally at home with general issues as well as the particular religious modes of life and thought they study.

In their statement of purpose, applicants to the doctoral program should explain their intellectual interests and research plans, indicate what area of Religious Studies they hope to pursue, and specify which faculty they hope to work with, even if their interests do not coincide with one of the fields of study listed here. In some instances, qualified students who have interests that fall outside the fields of study currently offered may be admitted to ad hoc fields in which there is sufficient faculty expertise at IU, but a specific program of study has yet to be defined. For instance, students interested in Global Christianity or Religions in Africa could be considered under this provision. The basic credit-hour, exam, dissertation, and other structural requirements of the Ph.D. program as described on the degree requirements page remain in effect and may be augmented depending on the specific needs of the student.

Fields of Study

Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Religions
Buddhist Studies
Chinese Thought
Comparative and Transnational Studies of the Muslim Tradition
Ethics, Philosophy, and Politics in the Study of Religion
History of Christianity
Jewish Thought and Culture
Religion in the Americas
Religions of South Asia

I. Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Religions

Students in this field master the skills for research and teaching in the religions of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East. Our program aims to train scholars who work across traditional boundaries and frontiers—geographic, linguistic, chronological, theoretical, and methodological. While students often focus on a particular tradition or geographic region, their program of study emphasizes cultural exchange, continuity, and contact among the varied cultures, traditions, and peoples of the Mediterranean and Near East. Students can expect an individualized mentoring culture aimed at facilitating their specific interests and academic goals.

Core faculty: Jamsheed Choksy, Jason Mokhtarian, Eva Mroczek, Jeremy Schott

Affiliate faculty: Kevin Jaques, Herbert Marks

Special admissions requirements: Students applying to the doctoral program in Ancient Mediterranean and Near East Religions (AMNER) should have or be completing a masters program in a relevant or cognate field, though exceptional undergraduates with ample background in Religious Studies and training in languages may be considered. Applicants should have studied Greek, Hebrew, or Latin through the intermediate level. Additional language preparation is desirable.

Areas of Study and Faculty Expertise

Colloquium in Ancient ReligionsThe Colloquium in Ancient Religions is offered in the spring semester. Led by a member of the AMNER faculty and open to any interested graduate students, the colloquium each year focuses on a topic or theme of relevance to all AMNER students. Each AMNER student must take this colloquium for credit at least once (it is optional to take it a second time for credit). However, all AMNER students (whether in coursework, preparing for exams, or writing the dissertation) are expected to attend and participate (as informal auditors) in the colloquium each year as long as they are in residence in Bloomington. AMNER faculty not leading the colloquium also attend and participate as they are able.

Source Language Requirements: : Students must demonstrate competence in ancient languages. The languages for which students must demonstrate competence will vary based on an individual’s program of study. Competence will be demonstrated by completing coursework to an intermediate level, examination, or a combination of both. Competence must be demonstrated before the defense of the dissertation proposal. Students must also demonstrate competence in the languages of modern scholarship (usually French and German, with Modern Hebrew strongly recommended for students of Judaism.

Outside Minor: Possible outside minors for AMNER students include Ancient Studies, Jewish Studies, Classical Studies, History, Comparative Literature, Central Eurasian Studies, Gender Studies, and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures.

Recommended Experience: : Students concentrating in Early Judaism or Late Antique Judaism are encouraged to acquire Modern Hebrew (which may, upon approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, be substituted for French, but not German, in the scholarly language requirement) and, if possible, to study in Jerusalem for at least one semester.

Qualifying Examination: There are five written exams, taken over a period of two weeks, followed by an oral examination. Bibliographies for each exam will be determined through consultation between the student and each examiner.

  1. Historical and cultural context relevant to the primary area (e.g., the Roman empire; Greek literary culture) (2 hours).
  2. Primary area of concentration (4 hours).
  3. 3Secondary area/outside minor (2 hours).
  4. Theory and Method (2 hours)
  5. Special topic (focused area relevant to the student’s possible dissertation) (2 hours).

‹‹ Back to Top

II. Buddhist Studies

Ph.D. students in Buddhist Studies will learn to do independent, original research on a specialized topic of their own choice while becoming familiar with classical and canonical materials and emerging trends in current research. This Ph.D. track also equips students to teach effectively and creatively about Buddhism, cognate religions, and relevant methodological and theoretical concerns. At present, the department is best equipped to train students in Buddhist philosophy, cultural history, ritual studies, material culture, and textual studies; however, students may pursue work in other areas, such as anthropology, provided that they have sufficient prior training and/or support from other faculty members at IU. In their coursework, students are expected to develop a broad understanding of various Buddhist traditions, in addition to significant expertise in their chosen field of research.

Core Faculty: Richard Nance, Heather Blair

Affiliate Faculty: Rebecca Manring

Admission requirements: Students applying for the Ph.D. program should have, or be finishing, a master's degree in Buddhist studies or another relevant field. In addition, students must have achieved intermediate competence in at least one of the following languages: classical Chinese, classical Japanese, Sanskrit, Tibetan. Those wishing to focus on East Asian Buddhism should also have achieved intermediate competence in modern Japanese or Chinese.

Recommended courses: Our students often work individually with faculty, or in small groups, reading theoretical and primary source material, according to the interests of faculty and students. Early in their program, students are expected to enroll regularly in Rel R552 (“Studies in Buddhism”), Rel R554 (“Religions of East Asia”), and Rel R551 (“Religions of South Asia”). These are “piggy-back” courses, which require graduate students to participate in undergraduate seminars while completing additional reading, research, and writing. In addition to R665 (“Interpretations of Religion”), we strongly encourage students to enroll in R662 (“The Cross-Cultural Study of Religion”). Students should also work with their advisory committee to seek out course offerings in other departments, such as Central Eurasian Studies, East Asian Languages and Cultures, etc.

Language requirements: Besides demonstrating the ability to read primary texts in a canonical language (Sanskrit, Pāli, Tibetan, classical Chinese), students must demonstrate facility with a second research language other than English. (In general, students wishing to work on Indian Buddhism will at minimum need to know Sanskrit and classical Tibetan or classical Chinese. Those wishing to work on Japanese Buddhism will at minimum need to know classical Chinese and modern Japanese.) Modern Japanese and Chinese may be substituted for the departmental French or German requirement, but other languages may be used if appropriate.

Outside Minor: The University Graduate School requires that all Ph.D. students minor in one area outside their department. Minors that complement Buddhist studies include (but are not limited to): India Studies, Central Eurasian Studies, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Gender Studies, Art History, and Anthropology.

File Papers: Prior to taking their qualifying exams, all Ph.D. students in Religious Studies are required to submit two file papers (see departmental requirements). In addition to consulting with their advisory committee when determining which papers to use, students in the Buddhist Studies track must demonstrate in at least one of these papers that they are able to conduct independent research using original-language primary sources.

Qualifying Examinations: The qualifying examinations prepares students to (1) embark on their dissertation research and (2) teach courses on Buddhist traditions and methodological approaches in Religious Studies. Typically these exams are structured around the following four areas, with reading lists to be determined jointly by the student and members of his or her advisory committee:

  1. Theory and method in the study of religion. This exam requires students to show that they are conversant with the history and current dynamics of the field of Religious Studies.
  2. Buddhist Studies. This exam assesses students’ mastery of important concepts in Buddhist Studies, as well as their ability to engage with major trends in research.
  3. Complementary field. This exam supports the development of expertise in a methodological, theoretical, cultural, or historical area relevant to the student’s research and teaching interests. The university requires all Ph.D. students to complete a minor in another department; for students in the Buddhist Studies track, the complementary field exam will most likely (but not necessarily) relate to this outside minor.
  4. Research topic. This exam targets the specific area of the student’s proposed dissertation work, and is meant to further the student’s ability to conduct original, independent research.

‹‹ Back to Top

III. Chinese Thought

This field trains students to produce original research on Chinese philosophical and religious thought. It also provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to teach effectively about the religious traditions of East Asia. Students in this field learn to interpret the texts of early China in light of the various disciplines involved in the comparative study of religion, including philosophy, history, philology, and anthropology. While students will gain a broad knowledge of Chinese texts, the current focus of this field is the early period of Confucianism (roughly the 6th century BCE through the 3rd century CE). However, concentrating on another time period is possible, depending on previous student training.

As with any subfield of religious studies, candidates are expected to be familiar with the primary and secondary literature on their chosen subject as well as relevant literature that positions their scholarship within the broader study of religion and Chinese thought.

Core Faculty: Aaron Stalnaker, Michael Ing

Affiliate Faculty: Heather Blair, Richard Nance

Associated Faculty: Manling Luo (EALC), Kevin Tsai (Comparative Literature), Ling-yu Hung (Anthropology)

Requirements for Admission to the Doctoral Program:
Students should have, or be finishing, a master's degree in a relevant field. In addition, students must have studied classical Chinese through the intermediate level and have acquired an elementary proficiency in modern Chinese (Mandarin).

Required or recommended Courses:
Besides the departmental requirements, students in this field will take at least two courses on religious traditions relevant to East Asia as a whole.
Students in this field are required to regularly take the graduate seminar "Topics in Chinese Thought," the focus of which varies from year to year.
This program emphasizes individualized mentorship for the graduate student and optimal flexibility to craft specialized training. To this end, work in this field is done individually with faculty, or in small groups, reading theoretical and primary source material, according to the interests of faculty and students.

Language Requirements:
Besides demonstrating the ability to read primary texts in classical Chinese, the student will take (or have taken) four years of modern Chinese (Mandarin). This will substitute for either the French or German departmental modern language requirement. Students are also encouraged to consider substituting Japanese for the remaining departmental language requirement.  This can be done with the permission of his or her advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies. Spending at least a semester in China or Taiwan for advanced language study is highly recommended.

Outside Minor:
The Graduate College requires that all PhD students minor in one area outside their department. Outside minors that best complement the study of Chinese Thought include (but are not limited to):

East Asian Languages and Cultures
Philosophy

Qualifying Examination:
The qualifying examination is designed to certify that the student has attained a sufficient level of knowledge to eventually teach courses on not only Chinese Thought, but also on the methodologies of Religious Studies, and on the religious traditions of East Asia. As such, students are required to complete four written exams as well as a subsequent oral exam.

Typically these exams are structured around the following four areas:

  1. History and methods of the study of religion. This exam will be developed from a standard bibliography plus additions determined by the student and faculty.
  2. Chinese Thought. The student, in consultation with the core faculty, will create a bibliography related to the student's planned dissertation.
  3. The religions of East Asia. This exam will be developed from a core bibliography plus additions determined through consultation between the student and faculty.
  4. The minor area. The department sponsoring the minor will develop this exam.

‹‹ Back to Top

IV. Comparative and Transnational Studies of the Muslim Tradition

The Muslim world extends across an immense area of the globe that includes widely diverse cultural, ethnic, linguistic, and religious traditions. In the centuries following their initial movement out of the Arabian Peninsula in the 7th century, Muslims dispersed from Europe to China, and eventually around the world. As they did so, Muslims individually and collectively continued to develop various practices as well as theological, legal, literary, artistic, and mystical traditions that in some cases were heavily influenced by the local cultures and religions they encountered, and in others, extremely resistant to them. The Comparative and Transnational Studies of the Muslim Tradition (CTSMT) field seeks to examine different regions of the Muslim world by focusing on the texts, practices, rituals, ideas, and other forms of Muslim religious meaning as they have developed over the course of history. While traditional Islamic Studies programs tend to encourage students to focus on only one region or one aspect of Muslim thought or action, the goal of CTSMT is to highlight the diversity of Muslim thought and practice by training students in the methods and theories of comparative religions in combination with anthropological methods of studying the transnational dimension of religion.

Core Faculty: R. Kevin Jaques, Nur Amali Ibrahim

Affiliate Faculty: Shaul Magid, Rebecca Manring, and Aaron Stalnaker.

Associated Faculty: John Hanson, Ron Sela, and Devin Deweese. Additional associate faculty members may be drawn from a variety of departments at IU, including CUES, NELC, History, Anthropology, African Studies, Spanish, and Folklore.

Admissions Requirements: In accordance with the Department of Religious Studies, all students are required to complete an MA before beginning coursework toward their PhD degree. In addition, CTSMT requires that all students have successfully completed Arabic through an intermediate level of instruction. At the discretion of the Field Chairperson, another language such as (but not limited to) Urdu, Indonesian, Persian, Turkish, Hausa, or Swahili may be substituted.

Field Requirements: The goal of CTSMT is to emphasize the role of human agency in the creation, transmission, appropriation, and development of Muslim ideas and practices. Students entering the field will be required to take two courses to help them acquire the concepts and skills necessary to pursue the study of Muslim traditions in a global context: R662 Cross-Cultural Comparisons of Religion and R561 Anthropological Approaches to Religion.

Following the completion of R662 and R561, students will be required to choose one of two “tracks” within the field that will help them focus their dissertation research. The Comparative Religion track requires students to select two geographic regions and/or two time periods and compare a set of phenomena as they occur in both. The Transnational Religion track requires students to explore how Muslim religious, social and cultural phenomena are transmitted across wide distances and how in this process, conventional understandings and practices are appropriated, reassessed, and changed by various groups. The tracks are not designed, however, to be exclusive entities. Students are encouraged to combine methods and theories in the Anthropological study of Transnational Religion with those found in Comparative Religion in their dissertation work.

Students in coursework are also required to participate in the CTSMT colloquium held each semester. The colloquia are led by a different faculty member each semester and will focus on a pre-selected article or monograph.

Recommended Courses and Sequence: In their first year, students are encouraged to take R665 (the departmentally required methods course), R662, and R562 (both generally offered in the spring). Students are also encouraged to continue with appropriate language training.

It is recommended that summers of the first and second years be used for language training in overseas “immersion” programs or in domestic summer language institutes. Most of these programs offer financial assistance but require advanced application, so appropriate planning is necessary.

In the second year, students should begin to take topical courses that focus on the Muslim Tradition. Language training should also continue as necessary.

Finally, by the end of their third year, students should complete all course and language requirements and take comprehensive exams during the following summer.

Language Requirements: The Department of Religious Studies requires that all students demonstrate proficiency in French and German before taking their comprehensive exams. In extraordinary cases, and at the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies, another modern research language may substitute for one of these.

In addition to French and German, CTSMT requires all students to complete four years of Arabic instruction or pass an exam that certifies that the student can read and/or speak at the fourth-year level.
Students are also required to achieve an intermediate level in additional source languages as deemed necessary for fieldwork and research for their dissertation. These languages include but are not limited to: Indonesian, Persian, Turkish, Urdu, Javanese, Hausa, Swahili, and Bengali.

Minor Departments: The Graduate College requires that all PhD students attain a certificate of completion in a minor field of study outside their departments. Students may choose any minor that, with the agreement of their field committee, is deemed appropriate given their research goals. These can be in any number of departments and program such as History, African Studies, NELC, CUES, Anthropology, and Sociology.

Comprehensive Exams: The comprehensive exams are designed to certify that the student has attained a sufficient level of knowledge in the fields of Islamic Studies and Religious Studies. As such, students will be required to complete five written exams taken over two weeks as well as an oral exam to be completed not more than one week following the completion of their written exams. The exams consist of 1) History of Islam, 2) Theories and Methods in Comparative Religions, 3) Theories and Methods in the Anthropology of Religion, 4) Special Topics and,  5) Outside Area Exam.

History of Islam (Four hours)
This exam is divided into two sections: a) Islamic History from Origins to 1258 and b) Islamic History from 1258 to Present. It is based on an established bibliography of standard texts considered by the faculty to be “foundational” to the field. Specific topical foci for each exam are subject to agreement between examiner and student.

Theories and Methods in Comparative Religion (Two hours)
This exam will require students to apply the theories and methods of Comparative Religion to particular Muslim phenomena (textual or ethnographic) as they exist in two different areas or time periods. The text or ethnographic moment will be assigned to the student prior to the exam and the student will respond to a specific question that will focus on using the methods and theories developed during the course of study to understand the religious meaning of the phenomena in question.

Theories and Methods in the Anthropology of Religion (Two hours)
The exam requires students to exhibit their familiarity and comprehension of anthropological theorizing and empirical methods relevant to the study of a set of religious phenomena and/or practices in two separate ethnographic settings. Students will have to demonstrate that they have a sense of how to pragmatically and analytically approach the phenomenon in question, as well as of the body of theoretical literature to which its exploration would contribute.

Special Topics (Two hours)
Students are to choose an area of interest that will, in the dissertation phase of their research, become the central topic or issue for analysis. Topics can include, but are not limited to, Islamic law, theology, sacred biography, ritual, practice, art, media, mysticism, etc.; and issues can include examinations of how Muslims have addressed problems such as war, poverty, trade, migration, AIDS, identity, conversion, and so forth. Bibliographies for the exam will be developed in consultation with the examiner and should address the most pertinent aspects of the topic for the prospective dissertation.

Outside Area (Two hours)
The outside area exam will be based on a bibliography developed in conjunction with the student’s adviser in his or her minor department or program.

Dissertation: Within 60 days of the completion of the oral exam the candidate will be expected to establish a dissertation committee and to present a proposal of research that defines its method and topic and a specific time-line for completion. If further language work is to be done, students must outline how these will be completed.

It is an expectation that foreign travel will be necessary for students to perform fieldwork and research. Grants for completing the fieldwork should be specified by the student and the time necessary for fieldwork should be reasonably projected.

Dissertation topics that differ with the specific expertise of the core faculty are encouraged since rigorous and original work is the hallmark of a quality dissertation. All dissertations must, however, involve comparative methods of analysis, anthropological methods, or preferably a combination of the two with the primary focus being on the religious meanings or responses to the topics or issues being examined.

‹‹ Back to Top

V. Ethics, Philosophy, and Politics in the Study of Religion

This field of study centers on the relationships between ethics, philosophy, and political theory within the broader field of the study of religion. Emphasis is placed on the examination of philosophical, theological, ethical, and political perspectives on (and accounts of) religion, whether understood as social and cultural artifact or system of literature and thought. Particular foci could include the place of religion in culture, the formation and contours of religious identity, religion and public life, and philosophical and theoretical problems in religion. Work in this area is intrinsically interdisciplinary, and seeks to integrate and reconfigure traditional approaches to its range of subject matter. Students are expected to develop specific areas of historical and theoretical expertise that are informed by the range of contemporary approaches to the study of religion.

Core Faculty: Winnifred Sullivan, Richard Miller, Lisa Sideris, Aaron Stalnaker

Affiliate Faculty: Constance Furey, Michael Ing, Shaul Magid, Richard Nance

Associated Faculty: Daniel Conkle

Requirements for Admission to the Doctoral Program
Establishing proficiency in at least one foreign language prior to admission is strongly recommended. Normally this would be French or German.

Areas of Concentration
Areas of concentration include, but are not limited to:
European and/or American thought and criticism
Comparative Religious Ethics
Theoretical and Practical Approaches to Ethics (e.g., religion and bio-ethics, environmental ethics, political thought and ethics)
Theories of Culture and Society

Required Courses
None beyond the departmental requirements.

Language Requirements
Demonstrate competence in French and German (another language of scholarship such as Chinese can be substituted for one of these with the approval of the DGS).

Outside Minor
Potential outside minors include, but are not limited to:  Philosophy, Political Science, East Asian Languages and Cultures, American Studies, Jewish Studies, English, History, History and Philosophy of Science, Gender Studies

Other Requirements or Expected Activities
Each student is expected to participate in the EPP workshop, a monthly meeting of students and faculty who meet to discuss work-in-progress. Before completion of the doctoral degree, each student will make at least one presentation in this context.

Qualifying Examination
A series of written exams over two weeks totaling 12 hours, followed by an oral exam. Typically these exams will include four units: one unit will be a field exam broadly covering ethics, philosophy, and politics in the study of religion; one unit each on two areas of concentration; and one unit that furthers individual students’ planned dissertation research.

‹‹ Back to Top

VI. History of Christianity

Students in this field will acquire a broad understanding of the history of the western Christian traditions and master the skills to do independent and original research on some area of specialization within that range. The field's central scholarly focus is the relationship between Christian traditions and western European and American cultures, study of which is multidisciplinary and requires working with colleagues and students from other departments and programs in addition to Religious Studies (e.g. Art History, English, Classical Studies, History, Philosophy, Romance and Germanic Literature and Languages, and Medieval and Renaissance Studies). Currently the department is particularly well-prepared to support topics that focus on Christianity in Late Antiquity (through 500 C.E.) and Early Modern Europe (1400-1700 C.E.).

Core Faculty: Constance Furey, Patrick Michelson, Jeremy Schott, Aaron Stalnaker

Affiliate Faculty: Candy Gunther Brown, Paul Gutjahr, Ed Linenthal

Associated Faculty: Deborah Mauskopf Deliyannis (History), Karma Lochrie (English)

Special admissions requirements: Students applying to the doctoral program in History of Christianity should have or be completing a masters program in a relevant or cognate field.  They must have studied Latin through the intermediate level.  Depending on proposed topics of study, additional language preparation may be desirable.

Primary and secondary areas: Students choose a primary area of concentration and a secondary area from the following:

Primary Areas
Ancient Christianity (through 500 C.E.)
Early Modern Christianity (1400-1700 C.E.)

Secondary Areas
Ancient Christianity
Medieval Christianity
Early Modern Christianity
Christianity in the Americas

Recommended Courses: Students should consult the following list for recommended courses that help to prepare for the qualifying examinations in these areas as either primary or secondary areas.  Each of these courses has a special section for graduate students.  All students in the field are strongly encouraged to take the sequence of courses R327/521, R330/531, R331/531 if they have not had such an overall survey at the masters level.

New Testament
Jesus and the Gospels(R320/521)
Paul and his Influence in Early Christianity(R325/521)

Ancient Christianity
Christianity, 50-450 (R327/521)

Medieval and Early Modern Christianity
Christianity, 500-1500 (R330/531)
Christianity, 1500-present (R331/531)
Seminar on the Reformations (R630)
Colloquium on North American Religious History (R635)

Language Requirements: All students must demonstrate reading knowledge of French and German, and in addition to Latin, students whose primary area of concentration is Ancient Christianity must demonstrate competence in ancient Greek through either departmental examination or two years of coursework.  Depending on their research interests, students in either Ancient or Early Modern Christianity may have to do work in other languages as well.

Outside Minor: Possible outside minors for History of Christianity students include Ancient Studies, Medieval Studies, Renaissance Studies, Jewish Studies, Classical Studies, History, English, French, Italian, Spanish and Germanic Languages and Literature, Comparative Literature, and Art History.

Qualifying Examination: There are five written exams, taken over a period of two weeks, followed by an oral examination.  Students are encouraged to get and begin preparing the bibliographies for their primary and secondary areas early in their doctoral coursework.

  1. Historical and cultural context relevant to the primary area (e.g., Christianity in Late Antiquity, Christianity in Early Modern Europe) (2 hours).  Bibliography is determined through consultation between the student and the relevant faculty member.
  2. Primary area of concentration (4 hours).  Bibliographies are available from the relevant faculty.
  3. Secondary area (2 hours).  Bibliographies are available from the relevant faculty.
  4. Thematic exam (2 hours). This exam might focus on an issue related to another field in the department (e.g. Ethics, Philosophy, and Politics, or Ancient Religions), a specific method (e.g. textual or visual analysis) or a specific issue, delimited by period or genre (e.g. Gender, Art, or Literature). Bibliography is determined through consultation between the student and the relevant faculty member.
  5. Special topic (focused area relevant to the student’s possible dissertation) (2 hours).  Bibliography is determined through consultation between the student and the primary faculty advisor.

‹‹ Back to Top

VII. Jewish Thought and Culture

This field encompasses a multidisciplinary approach to Jewish intellectual and cultural experience from late antiquity to the present, including philosophy, literature, mysticism/pietism, law, and the arts. Students will be trained to explore their area of specialization within the larger context of religious studies and will be encouraged to employ methodological approaches endemic to the study of religion in their research. Our department is particularly suited to accommodate interest in the following areas: rabbinic legal theory, medieval pietism and Kabbala, Hasidism, contemporary fundamentalism and religious renewal, Zionism/Diasporism, and gender. See also, http://www.indiana.edu/~jsp/

Core Faculty: Sarah Imhoff, Shaul Magid, Jason Mokhtarian, Eva Mroczek

Affiliate Faculty: Judah Cohen (Folklore and Ethnomusicology), Members of the Program in Jewish Studies

Special admission requirements: Students applying to the doctoral program in Jewish Thought and Culture should have an MA in Jewish Studies or related field and two years of a Jewish language, usually Hebrew

Areas of Concentration

Required Courses: Students will be required to take R-714, "Topics in Jewish Thought and Culture" (topic to vary from year to year), either as a stand-alone seminar when it is offered or, with the permission of the instructor, as a "piggy-back" to a 600 or 500 level graduate course in a relevant topic. In addition, the Jewish Studies graduate colloquium is strongly recommend (and required for students wishing to be eligible for Jewish Studies graduate funding).

Language Requirements: Students must also take at least one class in foundational Jewish texts. In addition, to reading knowledge of German and French, students must demonstrate advanced knowledge of modern Hebrew, either by completing the equivalent of six semesters of university-level course work (with a grade of B or better) or by taking a proficiency exam. Another modern language (other than Hebrew) may be substituted for either German or French with the permission of the Director of Graduate Studies. Other languages may be required depending on a student's scholarly objectives.
Outside Minor: An outside minor in Jewish Studies is recommended.
Qualifying Examination: The qualifying examination will consist of 3 four-hour exams:

  1. An exam on an area of concentration outside the dissertation research
  2. An exam on a second area of study outside the dissertation research
  3. An exam on a specific subject or field related to the topic of the dissertation

‹‹ Back to Top

VIII. Religion in the Americas

This field of study focuses on the history and lived experience of religion within the United States, while recognizing transnational linkages with religious developments in Canada and Latin America.  Students will develop a historical and critical understanding of religion in the Americas from the sixteenth century to the present day, including the multiplicity of traditions and diverse modes of religious expression.  Students are expected to cultivate methodologies appropriate to their areas of interest, such as historical and literary analysis, ethnography, and cultural studies.  In addition, candidates are encouraged to explore intersections between religion and other facets of American experience, such as colonialism, modernity, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, communications media, illness and health, popular cultures, and politics.  Potential areas of concentration are diverse, and may include (but are not limited to) African American Religions, Evangelical and Charismatic Christianity, and Religion and American Culture.  As with any subfield of religious studies, candidates are expected to be familiar with the primary and secondary literature on their chosen subject as well as relevant social-scientific and critical literatures that position their scholarship within the broader study of religion.

Core Faculty: Candy Gunther Brown, Paul Gutjahr, Sarah Imhoff, Ed Linenthal, Stephen Selka, Winnifred Sullivan

Affiliate Faculty: Kevin Jaques, Shaul Magid, Lisa Sideris

Associated Faculty: Claude Clegg, David Nord, Vernon Williams

Recommended Courses
Students are encouraged to consult the following list of recommended courses to help prepare for qualifying examinations:

African American Religions
Colloquium on North American Religious History
Evangelical and Charismatic Christianity in the Americas
Gender, Sexuality, and Religion in the Americas
Modernisms and Fundamentalisms
New Religious Movements in the Americas
Race, Religion, and Ethnicity in the United States
Religion, Illness and Healing in America
Scriptures and Race in America
Studies of Religion in American Culture
Women and Religion in America

Language Requirements: Students must demonstrate proficiency in language(s) necessary to their research, determined in consultation with the core faculty and DGS.  Students may, for example, be advised to study Spanish or Portuguese, one of which may be substituted for the French and German departmental language requirements with the permission of the DGS.

Outside Minor: The study of religion is necessarily interdisciplinary.  Degree candidates are required to minor in one area outside the department of religious studies and are strongly encouraged to take advantage of Indiana University’s overall commitment to the study of the Americas.  Outside minors that best complement the study of Religion in the Americas include but are not limited to: African American and African Diaspora Studies, American Studies, Anthropology, Communication and Culture, English, Folklore, Gender Studies, History, Jewish Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, or Political Science.

Qualifying Examination: Students are required to take four written exams (each 3 hours in length) over two weeks, followed by an oral exam. Although the topics of the exams vary from student to student, typically these exams are structured around the following four areas: (1) a historical exam assessing documentary knowledge, (2) a methodological exam focused on historiographical and critical approaches, (3) a subject area exam related to the student’s planned dissertation, and (4) a secondary exam, focused on the student’s outside minor.  Each of the departmental exams is guided by a different bibliography, developed in consultation between the student and the core faculty; bibliographies should be prepared by the summer following the first year of a student’s Ph.D. program.

‹‹ Back to Top

IX. Religions of South Asia

Students choosing Religions of South Asia master the theoretical, historical, ethnographic and linguistic skills they need to carry out original research and to teach at both graduate and undergraduate levels.  Students will select a particular focus for their studies, and will also develop a broad background in both South Asian religious history and the field of Religious Studies as a whole.  Current faculty strengths are in the areas of Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism.

Core faculty:  David Haberman, Nur Amali Ibrahim, Rebecca Manring, Richard Nance, Kevin Jaques.

Associated faculty:  Michael Dodson (History), Paul Losensky (Comp Lit / CEEUS), Susan Seizer (Communication and Culture), Pravina Shukla (Folklore), Elliot Sperling (CEEUS), and John Walbridge (Near Eastern Languages and Culture).

Special admissions requirements:  Students should have, or be finishing, an MA in a relevant field.  Prior work with ancient or modern South Asian languages is a plus, although IU offers at least two years each of Hindi, Urdu, Persian, Sanskrit, Tibetan and Bengali.

Areas of concentration:  Indian devotionalism (medieval and contemporary; Shaiva, Sufi, Vaishnava or Shakta); aesthetic theory; hagiography; iconography; Buddhist ritual practice/philosophy/history; temple Hinduism; pilgrimage.

Recommended courses:  Our students often work individually with faculty, or in small groups, reading theoretical and primary source material, according to their interests.  In addition to R665, we strongly encourage students to take the following:
R662, The Cross-Cultural Study of Religion
H680 Colloquium in Cultural History: Postcolonial Theory and Historiography

Language requirements:  All doctoral students in the Religions of South Asia must demonstrate competence, either by coursework or examination, in at least one South Asian language, which may substitute for either French or German.

Outside minor:  Possible minors include but are not limited to India Studies, Anthropology, History, Philosophy, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, East Asian Languages and Cultures, and Central and Eastern European Studies.

Other requirements:  Students are expected to spend time in South Asia for advanced language study and/or for their PhD fieldwork.

Qualifying examinations:  Three exams plus the minor exam, if required.

  1. History and methods of the study of religion (core bibliography plus additions determined through consultation between student and faculty)
  2. Religious cultures of South Asia
  3. Area of concentration, determined by dissertation topic (reading list to be developed by the student in consultation with faculty).

‹‹ Back to Top