PhD in Religious Studies
The information found on this web page is intended to complement rather than substitute information contained in the University Calendar. In the event that there is a discrepancy the University of Alberta Calendar is the final authority.
To enter the program, applicants must have an MA in Religious Studies or the equivalent. Applicants may be admissible if they have completed an MA in a field other than Religious Studies if their thesis and/or course work had Religious Studies content relevant to their proposed thesis topic and if they have earned substantial Religious Studies credits at the BA level. Students may be admitted as qualifying students. Students whose first language is other than English must have passed the TOEFL exam with a score of 580, or the IELTS Academic.
Applicants must be able to demonstrate reading competence in the language(s) relevant to their particular research topic. However, it is recognized that the acquisition of advanced language skills is an ongoing process which may continue throughout the PhD program.
Before beginning an application, applicants MUST contact the Religious Studies Graduate Coordinator, or a potential doctoral supervisor, for the purpose of determining if the applicant’s research goals appropriately match the Program’s profile and supervisory resources.
The number of graduate courses required is deliberately flexible, to be determined by the supervisory committee in consultation with the student. The minimum number of required courses is two (6* credits), including RELIG 575 (Method and Theory in the Study of Religion). Students may also be required to take language courses or courses on research skills related to their particular research. All candidates must develop reading competency in the languages that are relevant to their specialized research; this includes at least one relevant modern language of scholarship. This competency may be achieved by taking a requisite number of courses in a particular language or demonstrated by sitting for a successful examination. In the case of some modern languages, such as French and German, courses in academic reading for graduate students are offered through the Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies (MLCS). Please access their website here for further details.
All candidates are required to register for the Doctoral Seminar (RELIG 675) once during their term of residency and are expected to attend it on an ongoing basis. The Seminar’s aim is to provide regular opportunity for graduate students to submit their research to peer review and discussion.
On the completion of course work, the candidate will prepare for the candidacy examination. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the program, the path to qualification for candidacy may take different forms, to be determined by the supervisory committee in consultation with the student. It may, for instance, take the form of written examinations on different aspects of the discipline, a series of position papers or a long thesis proposal. Upon successful completion of the qualifying requirements, the candidacy examination will be scheduled. The candidacy examination is an oral examination based upon a thesis proposal, in which the student demonstrates appropriate mastery of the scholarly fields and research skills relevant to the preparation of the dissertation (see section 8.3.3 of the Graduate Program Manual).
Upon successful completion of the candidacy examination, the candidate is required to prepare a doctoral thesis. The thesis will be defended before an examination committee which includes at least one examiner who is not a member of the Religious Studies program and one examiner who is not from the University of Alberta.
A primary supervisor and a supervisory committee, assigned to each student by the Graduate Coordinator in consultation with the student, will advise the candidate on all aspects of his or her academic progress, including the preparation of the thesis.