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Graduate Department of Religion

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MA and PhD Admissions

Vanderbilt University
Graduate Department of Religion
411 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37240
615/343-9957 fax

Application Deadline: December 15
Online Application 

General Information:
Schedule for Admission to Graduate School at Vanderbilt
Fees and Financial Support
The Graduate School Catalog
The Graduate School Homepage
Graduate Program in Theology and Practice

The Graduate Department of Religion (GDR) comprises more than 30 faculty members and offers M.A. and Ph.D. work in the following areas:

  • Ethics and Society
  • Hebrew Bible
  • Historical Studies
  • History and Critical Theories of Religion
  • Homiletics and Liturgics
  • Jewish Studies (MA only)
  • New Testament and Early Christianity
  • Religion, Psychology, and Culture
  • Theological Studies

M.A. students may specialize in any of the areas listed above or apply for a cross-disciplinary or general M.A. program. The M.A. program involves at least one academic year's work and the writing of an M.A. thesis. The Ph.D. program formally requires three years' study in residence, followed by qualifying examinations and the writing of a dissertation. The Graduate School permits up to 24 hours of 'transfer credit' for previous post-baccalaureate work which is of graduate quality, toward the Ph.D. and six hours toward the M.A.. Ph.D. study does not consist solely of formal course work; especially during the second year students may prepare for the qualifying examinations by auditing courses and by engaging in individual research.

Important Information for Applicants:
You will note that the application form provides space for a statement of purpose in undertaking graduate study. This statement is one of the most important elements in the application process. Please indicate as precisely as possible what you propose to accomplish in undertaking graduate work in the field of religion. Explain your interest in the particular GDR area of study which you have selected, and specify your objectives in that area. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of your previous preparation. In light of the continuing scarcity of academic teaching positions, it is important for us to know what your vocational objectives are. If you have vocational interests other than teaching in a university, college or seminary, or are assured of an appropriate placement, be sure to indicate that. Attach an additional sheet if the space provided on the form is insufficient.

Applications are due by December 15 for matriculation the following fall or spring. The Graduate Record Examination (general test only, not the subject test) is required for admission to the Vanderbilt Graduate School, and the test should be taken no later than the Preceding December. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required for international students whose native language is not English. Notification of admission will occur during the first two weeks of March. Late applications, especially for the M.A. program, are considered if places remain available. Summer courses in religion are not offered, but summer language courses in French, German, and Spanish are normally available.

The GDR office does not schedule on-campus visits until prospective students have applied to the program. Once applicants have submitted academic transcripts and statements of purpose, they may contact the GDR office and schedule campus visits with both faculty and students, as schedules permit. Applicants may schedule visits by contacting Karen Eardley, the Administrative Assistant for the Graduate Department of Religion.