Course Work

Students are required to take fourteen courses, which can include language courses and must include RLST 510 (a required doctoral proseminar in the study of religion). Students must earn a grade of Honors in two graduate courses, a requirement set by the Graduate School.  The normal load is four courses per semester, though students have until the end of the fifth semester to complete the required fourteen courses.

Courses and seminars will be designated as counting towards specific areas of concentration. Students who wish to take a qualifying exam in conjunction with a seminar should notify the instructor of the seminar. With the instructor’s permission, the student will sit for a qualifying examination at the end of the semester or submit a substantial (20-25 pp) paper as required by the faculty member(s) teaching the seminar.  The examination or paper fulfills the requirement of the qualifying exam.

NOTE: While some students may use a seminar to fulfill the qualifying exam requirement in their primary AOC, others may use the same seminar to fulfill the qualifying exam requirement in their secondary AOC.

Many seminars will carry a designation for more than one area of concentration.  For example, a single seminar might count towards (i) Christianity and Judaism in the Hellenistic East and (ii) Scriptures and their Interpretation in Antiquity; or (i) Rabbinic Judaism and (ii) West Asian Religions of the Sasanian and early Islamic era; or (i) Scriptures and their Interpretation in Antiquity and (ii) Quranic Studies; or (i) New Testament and (ii) Hellenistic Jewish Literature. Multiple designations ensure a collaborative mix of students in each seminar.  Some seminars will include an optional language intensive hour for students who wish to pursue more advanced textual study in the context of the seminar.

Students will take seven courses in their primary area of concentration (in addition to the departmentally-required RLST 510).  They will take three courses in a secondary area of concentration in a different religious tradition. A further three courses are elective. These courses might be used:

  • to develop greater depth in one of the student’s existing areas of concentration, whether primary (for a total of ten courses) or secondary (for a total of six courses);
  • to develop greater breadth through the addition of another area of secondary concentration;
  • to develop expertise in a methodological approach, cultural area, historical period, or body of literature contributing to the dissertation project. These courses may be drawn from other departments and programs such as Classics; WGSS; Anthropology; Art History, etc.;
  • to develop teaching competencies outside the student’s areas of concentration (e.g., medieval Scriptural interpretation; modern Jewish thought; non-western Christianity); OR
  • to acquire additional languages (see Language Concentration Track below).

Language courses and electives are determined in consultation with the faculty affiliated with a given area of concentration. Each student will have a minimum of two faculty advisors (one for the primary area of concentration and one for the secondary area of concentration) and are encouraged to review their plans for course work and exam preparation with all relevant faculty and with the ADGS for the Program in Early Mediterranean and West Asian Religions.  The dissertation advisor is determined at the time of the Dissertation Colloquium.