PhD Program

(Note: HDS recently changed its doctoral designation from ThD to PhD in Religion. Those currently in the ThD program will continue to be candidates for the ThD; the first cohort of PhD candidates will enter in fall 2015.)

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. This is a joint degree program offered by the HDS and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, administered by the Committee on the Study of Religion.

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.

Admission to the PhD program in the Study of Religion at Harvard is very competitive: typically 5-6 percent of all applicants are admitted. Basic requirements, as a minimum, include a bachelor's degree, or its equivalent, with an undergraduate record of outstanding quality—a previous master's degree is not required, but it is the rare, exceptional student who is admitted without one. Similarly, while a previous major in the field of religion is not required, the applicant's background in this and related subjects is a critical consideration. You will find detailed information about PhD fields of study and program requirements on the Committee on the Study of Religion website.