Constitutive Principles

I. Name 

This association shall be called “The Council on Graduate Studies in Religion.”

II. Purpose and Annual Meeting 

The Council on Graduate Studies in Religion shall be a consultative body, whose purpose is to foster graduate studies in religion by (l) establishing standards for Ph.D. programs in religious studies (although membership in the Council does not constitute formal accreditation of programs); by (2) conveying to potential Ph.D. students in religion and to potential employers of Ph.D. graduates in religion information regarding the Council's standards and the institutions judged to be in compliance by (3) monitoring the state of the profession, especially as to the number of graduate students in various subdisciplines in relation to the needs of the academy; and by (4) interpreting the discipline of religious studies and its importance to liberal education to administrators of educational institutions and to the wider public, as the occasion arises. It shall meet at least once a year at such time and place as the Executive Committee may determine. 

III. Officers and Duties 

The officers of the Council shall include a Chair, a Vice-Chair, and a Secretary-Treasurer who collectively shall constitute the Executive Committee of the Council. The officers shall be elected as needed at each annual meeting of the Council upon nomination by the Nominating Committee. Re-election of officers is possible but the Chair and Vice-Chair shall not serve more than three consecutive years, and the Secretary-Treasurer not more than five. It is advisable that the terms of officers be staggered. 

It shall be the duty of the Chair to preside at all meetings of the Council and the Executive Committee. In the absence of the Chair, the Vice-Chair may preside. If both officers are absent at the annual meeting, a presiding officer may be chosen from the members present. The Chair shall act as the principal officer of the Council and shall conduct the affairs of the Council between the annual meetings with the advice of the Executive Committee. If necessary, the Chair may call a meeting of the Executive Committee at any time between the annual meetings. The Chair represents the Council before other academic organizations, unless delegating that authority to other members for specific tasks. 

It shall be the duty of the Secretary-Treasurer to conduct the correspondence of the Council, to notify the members (at least one month in advance) of each meeting, to keep a record of the proceedings of such meetings, to keep an accurate roll of the members, to supervise the file on the Dissertation Title Index and the annual list of newly started or completed dissertations, to collect the membership dues, to take charge of all funds of the Council, and to render an account of all transactions to the Council at each annual meeting. (Reimbursed expenses must be approved by at least two members of the Executive Committee.) 

IV. Committees and Duties 

The Chair shall annually appoint committees for various assignments. Included among these are the following standing committees: Nominating Committee, Committee on Membership and Standards, and Auditing Committee. The Council shall review the function of other committees annually.

It shall be the duty of the Nominating Committee to present to the Council's annual meeting, a slate of nominations (a) for the following year's officers as needed and (b) for membership in the Committee on Membership and Standards, consisting of three persons. 

It shall be the duty of the Committee on Membership and Standards to investigate and make recommendations concerning membership in the Council. The Council shall (1) vote on new admissions one year after recommendation, and (b) issue a warning to a member institution whose standards are considered to fall below those required. If necessary, the Council shall vote discontinuation of membership by two-thirds vote of all members for such an institution at the annual meeting following the date of the warning. 

It shall be the duty of the Auditing Committee to examine the books and financial transactions of the Council once a year, and to report to the Council at the annual meeting. 

V. Principles and Amendments 

These Constitutive Principles may be amended by a two-thirds vote of those present and voting at its annual meeting. Amendments shall be proposed in writing to the members no later than three months prior to the meeting, and written votes may be submitted to the Secretary-Treasurer in advance of the meeting. 

VI. Membership 

Member institutions shall appoint as their representatives on the Council the faculty member responsible for the direction of the graduate program in the field of religion, or an appropriate alternate.  

Member institutions shall pay annual dues in the amount to be determined annually by the Council, payable at the beginning of each calendar year.  

Institutions shall be elected to membership by the Council upon the recommendation of the Committee on Membership and Standards. The criteria for membership follow, and acceptance thereof by prospective members is a requirement for membership.  By vote of the majority of members of the Executive Committee and the Committee on Membership and Standards, the latter will review the membership of any institution in the Council. 


Criteria for Membership 

A. Membership in the Council is by institution. It is restricted to accredited universities having Ph.D. programs in the academic study of religion and to other accredited institutions having programs leading to the same degree that are in an relevant respects comparable both in kind and in quality to such university programs. (The areas in which non-university programs must be comparable may include: selectivity in the appointment of faculty and in the admission of students; availability of specific graduate course offerings and supervised research for students; relations to other schools, departments and graduate programs, including the possibilities of study in the principal related fields; faculty-student ratios; proportion of full-time versus part-time students, including students writing dissertations in residence or in absentia.) 

Expectations for institutional members: 

  1. The collections and other materials and facilities of its library or libraries should be adequate for advanced research in the areas in which the doctorate is to be awarded. 
  2. An institution should not admit more students than its faculty can effectively supervise and the admission policy should be governed by the relative opportunities of instruction and guidance that it can offer in particular areas of research. 
  3. The faculty should be so constituted as to provide course offerings and supervision of research requisite for excellence in the scholarly study of religion in those areas in which the Ph.D. degree is awarded. 
  4. The design of the curricula, the program of instruction, and the process of examination at both the comprehensive and dissertation level shall include participation by university faculty qualified to offer instruction and to examine students in those fields other than but relevant to the areas of religious studies in which the Ph.D. is awarded, such as the other humanities and the social sciences. 

B. Admission of Students into the graduate program shall be governed by the following provisions: 

  1. The A.B. degree shall be a minimum requisite. 
  2. Students in Ph.D. programs in the academic study of religion shall either have offered evidence of previous work in methods in the study of religion and in diverse religious traditions, or pursue such work as part of their graduate studies. Students deficient in breadth of background as defined above are to be required to engage in appropriate additional study.
  3. The student shall demonstrate facility in (1) such modern languages as are essential to research in the discipline, and (2) those languages relevant to the primary sources of his or her study. Language examinations shall be passed at such time as is appropriate to offer maximum support for the programs of study undertaken. 
  4. The student must demonstrate or acquire adequate knowledge of (1) the historical development of his or her field of study, and (2) the methodology in the humanities or social sciences relevant to the field of concentration. 

C. Graduate Programs shall evidence the following general structures and patterns: 

  1. Programs should provide M.A. work or its equivalent for students admitted on the basis of B.A. work. Such should strive to acquaint the student with the breadth and variety of special areas or disciplines within the general field of religion and be designed to allow the student to demonstrate knowledge and intellectual excellence sufficient for pursuing the Ph.D. 
  2. Programs should be prepared to admit students who have already achieved the M.A. or its equivalent elsewhere, and move them more rapidly into advanced work. 
  3. A student's program of courses should be supervised by a faculty advisor--one who is prepared to help students in their areas of interest and to see them through to the formal beginning of dissertation work. Wherever possible, students should be given the opportunity for supervised teaching experience, involvement in professional societies, and publication in learned journals. 
  4. Faculty should assist students in finding suitable professional employment. 

D. Programs should provide an examination system for purposes of allowing the student to demonstrate scholarly excellence and intellectual maturity in a variety of areas or disciplines related to the Ph.D. preparation in the program and specialized areas of interest. Such examinations shall include written responses to questions or issues, papers, and/or oral examination. Examinations should not only reveal progress to date, but competence to pursue independent thinking and research in the area of specialization. 

E. Programs should have the following criteria for the dissertation: 

  1. The student's projected dissertation should be approved by the faculty or by a committee of the faculty, on the basis of a written proposal. 
  2. A faculty advisor should supervise the student's research for the writing of the dissertation. 
  3. The completed dissertation should show that the candidate is competent at a high level in the methods appropriate to research in the field of specification; it should show that the student has both general and specialized knowledge in the field of religion; and it should confirm the judgment that the student has the intellectual qualities indicated in D. above. 
  4. It should be a significant contribution to knowledge and understanding in the student's area of specialization.
  5. It should satisfy high technical standards in the soundness of its research and in the presentation of its materials, arguments, and conclusions. 
  6. It should be a piece of work that specialists in the field would consider worthy of publication in some form. 
  7. Provision should be made for the objective and independent evaluation of the dissertation by at least three readers, who include within their combined expertise the capacity to judge the relevant scholarly responsibility and contribution to knowledge of the dissertation.

F. General graduation requirements: 

Recipients of the Ph.D. degree shall have demonstrated excellence in the scholarly study of religion and the capacity for significant independent research, writing, and teaching in recognized areas of specification within religious studies.


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