Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in ReligionThe doctor of philosophy degree in religion is offered by the Department of Religion in the Graduate School. Students may be admitted to the Ph.D. program upon graduation from an accredited college with a baccalaureate degree or from an accredited seminary or graduate school with a post-baccalaureate degree. Students with an M.Div. or M.A. degree may be admitted directly to the Ph.D. program. Ordinarily, students with only the baccalaureate degree are admitted first to the M.A. program. Successful completion of the latter provides a foundation for doctoral studies but does not guarantee admission to the Ph.D. program. Applicants with the B.A. degree are advised to consider not only the M.A. program in the Graduate School, but also the two-year M.T.S. (Master of Theological Studies) program in the Vanderbilt Divinity School as preparation for Ph.D. work.
Areas of Study
Degree programs are offered in:
- Critical Studies in Asian, Islamic, and Jewish Traditions
- Ethics and Society
- Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel
- Historical Studies
- Homiletics and Liturgics
- Jewish Studies (M.A.)
New Testament and Early Christianity
- Religion, Psychology, and Culture
- Theological Studies
Interdisciplinary studies, both within religion and in other areas of knowledge, are encouraged. The study of religion can be pursued at Vanderbilt both as a critical, humanistic discipline, employing a variety of methodological perspectives, and as a theological discipline, interpreting the biblical religions and their historical, theological, and ethical heritage.
Candidates for the Ph.D. degree must demonstrate a reading knowledge of two modern languages:
A. a modern language of research (normally French, German, Spanish, or Modern Hebrew); and
B. one of the following:
- another modern language relevant to the field of study;
- a biblical or other relevant ancient language;
- the student's native language, if not English;
- a research method such as statistics when appropriate.
A total of 72 credit hours of coursework is required for the Ph.D. degree; transfer credit is available for relevant post-baccalaureate credit hours. Qualifying examinations are usually taken by the fifth semester of study, followed by presentation of a proposal and finally by dissertation work and an oral defense.