Religious Studies

Degree Types: PhD

The Doctoral Program in Religious Studies focuses on the history, anthropology, theory, methodological research and applications of the field within each of seven areas of concentration:

  • American Religions
  • Buddhism
  • Islam
  • Judaism
  • Medieval Christianity
  • Ethics
  • Theology

The program is highly flexible and profoundly interdisciplinary. All students take courses both within and outside the department, most choose at least one dissertation adviser from another department, and many students take one qualifying examination in another discipline. This flexibility allows for rigorous projects grounded in Religious Studies but influenced by other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. The program is intended to give both a scholarly training in the discipline and a careful training in academic teaching, a focus of the program. Northwestern University is one of America’s premier academic programs in Religion. Our nationally recognized faculty takes leadership in national policy debates and international scholarship at the highest level, and trains our students for this leadership role.

Students in this program are also encouraged to participate in TGS's Interdisciplinary Cluster Initiative and in the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching. The Clusters offer a strong set of colleagues in areas of specific interest and many students get certificates within the cluster.. For more information on finding a second intellectual "home" outside the Department, please visit the Interdisciplinary Clusters page. Additional funding is sometimes available through clusters, in addition to our robust support package, the most substantial of any graduate program in the country.  Each student is assigned to a leading expert in their field, and works closely with this faculty member throughout their Ph.D program.

See Religious Studies Degree Requirements for specific classes and procedures needed to complete this program. For more information on applying to the Department of Religious Studies, please see the Religious Studies Applications page.

PhD Program Statistics