Each Field of Study determines the specific requirements for its students. However, the general requirements for the doctoral degree are as follows: two years of course work must be completed. During these two years of course work, the Yale 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).
The only common requirement among all of the fields of study is RLST 510, Method and Theory. This course may be taken at any time during a student’s time at Yale, but faculty highly recommend that students take it in their first year of course work. The purpose of the course is to encourage rigorous conversation about religion among students with a diverse set of disciplinary and documentary interests. Although such a course may have professional benefits, this course is not a course in professionalization, nor is it a course on the classic debates in religious studies. It is a course about the problem of religion for scholars in the humanities.
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
In the third year of their doctoral program, 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. Again, these exams are normally completed in the third year. The dissertation prospectus must be approved by a colloquium and the departmental faculty. 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. The completed dissertation must be approved by a committee of readers and the departmental faculty. There is no oral examination at the completion of the dissertation. Instead, formal written reviews will be authored by 3-4 faculty offering critical feedback and recommendations for the next stage of publication.