Graduate Program

Director of Graduate Studies:

Fall:  Carlos Eire

Spring: Harry Stout

Graduate Application and Curriculum

Graduate Application and Curriculum

The Department of Religious Studies is organized into ten sub-fields, each with its own requirements for admission and its own curriculum; applicants must specify the field to which they are applying. All information about a particular sub-field and its admission requirements and curriculum can be obtained by clicking on the appropriate sub-field. The online application is located at General inquiries should be directed by e-mail to, or by telephone (203) 432-0828. Specific inquiries related to the subfields can be addressed directly to the professor teaching in that subfield. Prospective students should read carefully the information on this web site so that they can make adequate academic preparation before undertaking graduate study. A number of the Department's fields have demanding language requirements and students are expected to show evidence of training in the relevant language(s) on their applications.
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Students are admitted for a course of study and research leading to the Ph.D. degree. No student is admitted to the Department for study leading to a terminal master's degree. Therefore, the M.A. and the M.Phil. degrees are granted only en route to the Ph.D. Graduate students can petition for an M.A. after they advance to candidacy and an M.Phil. after passing their dissertation colloquium.

The Divinity School offers a two-year Master of Arts in Religion program and a three-year Master of Divinity program (which may be followed by a fourth-year program leading to the Master of Sacred Theology degree). Divinity School courses are normally open to students in the Department of Religious Studies, as courses in the Department are to Divinity Students. The difference between the Divinity School and the Department should be noted. You may request admission information and an applicationfor the Divinity School from
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The following factors are considered when evaluating an applicant. They are NOT listed in order of importance.

  • Language preparation, both ancient and modern
  • Previously taken basic courses in the field and in related historical and/or cultural environment
  • Grades and course selection at previous institution(s)
  • Confidential letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Writing sample (both for content and style)
    - The average writting sample should be between 20 -30 pages in length.
  • Match between interests of student and strengths of current Yale faculty in the field
  • GRE scores for all applicants and TOEFL scores for applicants whose native language is not English.
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The general requirements for the doctoral degree are as follows: two years of course work must be completed, during which the Graduate School Honors requirement must be met (that is, a grade of Honors in at least one year graduate course or two term graduate courses, earned after matriculation in the Graduate School and during the nine-month academic year).

Proficiency in two scholarly languages, normally French and German, must be shown, one before the end of the first year, the other before the beginning of the third (in some cases students may substitute another modern language for either French or German). This may be done by passing an examination administered by the Department, by accreditation from a Yale Summer School course designed for the purpose, or by a grade of A or B in one of Yale's intermediate language courses. Equivalent courses at a peer institution may be considered. Mastery of the languages of traditional texts in one's chosen field (e.g., Chinese, Hebrew, Greek, Japanese) is demonstrated either by examination or by successful use. POLICY FOR LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS

A set of qualifying examinations (normally four) is designed for each student, following guidelines and criteria set by the faculty in each field of study. These are normally completed in the third year. The dissertation prospectus must be approved by a colloquium and the departmental faculty, and the completed dissertation by a committee of readers and the departmental faculty. There is no oral examination on the dissertation. Students begin writing their dissertation in the third or fourth year of study and normally will have finished by the end of the fifth or sixth. However, it should be noted that students in Ancient Christianity, Asian Religions, Islamic Studies, Judaic Studies, New Testament, and Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, because of the intensive language and textual requirements of their programs, may request approval to have an extension by an extra term or an extra year.
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Applications Deadlines

Persons wishing to apply to the Ph.D. program in this Department can complete an online application by visiting All policies, procedures, instructions and answers to frequently asked questions as well as access to the application can be found at the website. Applications must be submitted by January 2, 2015. The application fee is $100. Scores in the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General Test are required. Applicants who have not taken that exam should write to the Educational Testing Service (ETS), Princeton, NJ 08541 and register for a convenient sitting. Applicants for whom English is a second language should arrange with ETS to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language. The decision of the Admissions Committee will be reported on or about March 15, 2015, and if admitted, applicants will be asked to indicate acceptance of Yale’s offer of admission by April 15, 2015.
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Financial Aid

To help attract the finest students to its Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and to support the scholars who will perpetuate the advancement of knowledge, Yale University devotes substantial resources to financial aid for its graduate students. All applicants to Yale University Ph.D. programs are automatically considered for financial assistance and are not required to submit the Yale Applicant’s Financial Statement. The steady trend of financial aid at Yale has been toward full funding for all Ph.D. students, and few schools can rival the breadth of support that Yale provides. For the Ph.D. students entering the Graduate School in the fall of 2014, all were offered a financial aid package consisting of four years of full tuition, at least four years of stipend support and comprehensive health care coverage, as well as stipends for summer work and a dissertation year fellowship. Minimum fellowship stipends for doctoral students during 2014-2015 academic year will range from $28,000 to $32,500 for twelve months, depending on the student’s discipline. The tuition fellowship covers the cost of annual tuition for the four years that tuition is charged. Over the course of graduate study, the typical doctoral student's financial aid commitment from Yale totals more than $290,000. Further information can be obtained on the Office of Financial Aid & Resources' website at
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Kenneth A. Gerber Fund

The Gerber Fund was endowed in memory of Kenneth A.Gerber, a former graduate student in the department to facilitate greater communication and interaction between the graduate students in the Religious Studies Department, across the subfields within the department. Mr. Gerber's family and friends started the memorial fund to support greater interaction among graduate students across fields in religious studies. Sponsored events have included student luncheons in which dissertation topics are presented to peers and a panel discussion: “Teaching Religious Studies: Diverse Perspectives”.
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There are over ten and a half million volumes in the various libraries of the University. Of special interest to students of religion are the Sterling Memorial Library, the Cross Campus Library, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Seeley G. Mudd Library, the Classics Library, and the library of the Divinity School. In recent years, Yale's library system has become increasingly automated and many databases and on-line searching tools are available. Students may also use the services of the Research Libraries Group (including Columbia, Harvard, and Yale universities, and the New York Public Library).

The Yale Computing and Information Systems department (YC&IS) provides the University's central academic computing facility and supports research and instructional computing services for the University community. YC&IS operates its own main-frame computers, computer terminals, and a wide variety of related support services throughout the campus.
The Department of Religious Studies is located at the center of the campus at 451 College Street, between Wall and Elm streets, facing the Sterling Memorial library. The offices of the Chair, the Directors of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies, the staff, and some faculty members are located there as are a lounge, seminar room and computer terminals. The Graduate School Bulletin Yale University Graduate School Programs and Policies describe living accommodations, health services, athletic facilities, and other graduate student services.
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Graduates of the Department of Religious Studies teach in many leading colleges, universities, and seminaries in this country and abroad. The thorough preparation offered by the department's Ph.D. programs is often cited as a reason for hiring its graduates. Faculty in the Department offer advice on job searches, write letters of recommendation, and contact relevant search committees. The McDougal Center Office of Student Life offers career and many other services to graduate students.
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Joint Ph.D. Program

The Department of Religious Studies in conjunction with the Program in African-American Studies, offers a joint Ph.D. in Religious Studies and African-American Studies. This joint degree is most appropriate for students who enter the field of American Religious History within the Department of Religious Studies and for students who concentrate on aspects of modern religious thought.
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Equal Opportunity Statement

The University is committed to basing judgments concerning the admission, education, and employment of individuals upon their qualifications and abilities and affirmatively seeks to attract to its faculty, staff, and student body qualified persons of diverse backgrounds. In accordance with this policy and as delineated by federal and Connecticut law, Yale does not discriminate in admissions, educational programs, or employment against any individual on account of that individual's sex, race, color, religion, age, disability, status as a special disabled veteran, veteran of the Vietnam era or other covered veteran, or national or ethnic origin; nor does Yale discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

University policy is committed to affirmative action under law in employment of women, minority group members, individuals with disabilities, special disabled veterans, veterans of the Vietnam era, and other covered veterans.

Inquiries concerning these policies may be referred to Valarie Stanley, Director of the Office for Equal Opportunity Programs, 221 Whitney Avenue; 3rd Floor, 203-432-0849.

The Department of Religious Studies is committed to providing a situation of free and open inquiry for all its students and faculty and fully supports Yale University's policies of non-discrimination, equal opportunity, and affirmative action in matters of admissions, education, and employment.
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For information on the number of applicants accepted and job placement of graduates go to the Religious Studies Program profile on the Yale Graduate School website.

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