In the wake of the events of summer 2020 and in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, the faculty together with representatives of the graduate student community of the Department of Religious Studies commit ourselves to confronting and contesting racism, anti-Blackness, and the legacies of colonialism. Our goal is to interrogate how the study of religion, in its historical constitution and current practices, contributes to systems of inequity in structures of evaluation, curation of ideas, and mechanisms for the development of intellectual leaders. We strive to create a collaborative environment that supports and empowers all our members and that fosters debate on the ethical implications of intellectual engagement. And we seek to admit a diverse cohort of graduate students excited to join us in this collective labor. 

We recognize that projects undertaken in this spirit are often interdisciplinary. While the formal application asks candidates to select certain subfields, we also encourage applicants to name in their statement any faculty members they hope to work with, regardless of their research area.



The following factors are considered when evaluating an applicant. They are NOT listed in order of importance.

  • Statement of Purpose
  • Writing sample (15-25 pages in length)
  • Match between interests of student and strengths of current Yale faculty in the field
  • Indication of interest in academic and non-academic professional futures
  • Language preparedness and basic courses and/or experience relevant to planned fields of study
  • Grades and course selection at previous institution(s)
  • Confidential letters of recommendation
  • TOEFL scores are required for applicants whose native language is not English.

Note - As of July 1, 2019, the Department of Religious Studies is no longer accepting GRE scores from applicants.


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 should be submitted no later than December 15, 2020.

The application fee is $105.  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, 2021, and if admitted, applicants will be asked to indicate acceptance of Yale’s offer of admission by April 15, 2021.

Departmental Selection Process

Every member of the graduate faculty in the Department of Religious Studies and the Yale Divinity School may review applications and nominate one candidate for consideration by a small admissions committee appointed each year by the department chair. The admissions committee is charged with selecting the most excellent students from this pool of nominees. Each member of the committee independently ranks the students by excellence. The results of these independently generated rank lists are averaged so as to produce a general rank list. The committee reviews the rank list and may make slight adjustments in light of recent admission trends. Once the committee finalizes the list, offers are extended to the top candidates. If the number of acceptances drops below the target admission rate, an offer will be extended to a student or students on the wait list. Because the number of students admitted is generally less than the number of sub-fields, one or more sub-fields will not admit a student in any given year. The strongest candidates are often those whose interests and research align with faculty in more than one sub-field.