University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill



The Ph.D. program is designed to prepare students for careers in university and college teaching and for research in Religious Studies. All doctoral students are admitted into one of the Department’s fields of specialization and must fulfill the specific requirements of that field. Students in all fields are encouraged to select courses in other departments or curricula and to pursue supporting studies in another department or another field within the Department of Religious Studies.

Applicants to the graduate program who have already completed an advanced degree in the study of religion from another academic institution and who can demonstrate sufficient preparation in religious studies may be admitted directly into the Department’s Ph.D. program. Such students are required to demonstrate competency in at least one modern research language relevant to their field of specialization prior to matriculation. During the first semester of study, the Director of Graduate Studies serves as the academic advisor for each new student admitted into the Ph.D. program in this fashion. By the end of the first semester of study, each student must designate a faculty advisor (or advisors) in the student’s field of specialization.

Students admitted to the Ph.D. program that have not already earned an M.A. in the study of religion must earn and M.A. in the Department before advancing to the Ph.D. phase of the program. Information about our M.A. requirements can be found here. Students enrolled in the Department’s M.A. program can petition to enter the Ph.D. program after successful completion of all M.A. requirements, or they may be admitted into the Ph.D. program after successfully petitioning to bypass the M.A. degree.


The graduate program offers concentrated study in the following fields of specialization:

Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Islamic Studies
Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Religion and Culture
Religion in the Americas
Religions of Asia

Each new student is admitted into one of these fields of specialization. Each field has specific degree requirements that must be completed in addition to the general requirements for the Ph.D. degree.

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