Academic Nature of Program

The course of study in American religious history is designed to prepare Ph.D. candidates for professional careers in Religious Studies. Traditionally the program at Yale University emphasized historical perspective in its training, relying on the considerable archival collections in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. In recent years the program has broadened its methodological scope, encouraging students to pursue many disciplinary routes to answer the questions of their research. Our graduate students are expected to cultivate simultaneously a broad theoretical acumen for the study of religion and a particular research program for their ongoing professional work.

Advice to Applicants

Our admissions are highly selective.  At most we will accept two students from any applicant pool. These decisions are based on the student’s prior training, writing sample, and letters of reference. Perhaps most important to our evaluation, however, is your personal statement. In this short text, identify potential research areas and situate these within broader interpretive questions. Although you will be trained as a scholar of religions in America, your scholarly perspective will be determined by the diverse and dynamic field of religious studies. As you consider why you seek to acquire a doctorate, consider what you can contribute to this venture. Be bold. In the end, you may switch topics many times over the course of your career, but it is your mode of inquiry that will define your acumen as a scholar.