Policy for Language

A Proficiency in two scholarly languages

Proficiency in two scholarly languages, variously determined by sub-field, must be demonstrated, one before the end of the first year, the other before the beginning of the third.

This may be done by:

  • Passing an examination administered by the Department,
    • The exam will be for 3 hours. It is administered by a RS staff member.
    • The passage for translation will be provided by the ADGS and relevant to the students research.
    • You may only consult a dictionary (book, electronic or on-line)
    • You may use a laptop for this exam
  • By accreditation from a Yale language course designed for this purpose or equivalent at a peer institution with prior approval of the DGS.
  • By a grade of A or B in one of Yale’s intermediate language courses.

Mastery of the languages of traditional texts in one’s chosen field

American Religious History no additional requirements
Philosophy of Religion no additional requirements
Religion and Modernity no additional requirements
Religious Ethics no additional requirements
Theological Studies no additional requirements

Asian Religions

  • Chinese (Buddhism)
  • Japanese (Buddhism)
  • Sanskrit (Buddhism, Hindu, Indian Buddhism, Jainism)
  • Pali (Indian Buddhism)
  • Ardhamagadhi (Jainism)

Early Mediterranean and West Asian Religions

  • At least two ancient/late ancient languages at the advanced level and one at the intermeidate level:
    • Hebrew

    • Aramaic

    • Syriac

    • Greek

    • Latin

    • Ethiopic

    • Middle Persian

    • Coptic

    • Arabic

  •  Students in the Language Concentration Track will demonstrate proficiency in a fourth language at the intermediate level

Islamic Studies

  • Advanced Literary Arabic to enter
  • Persian (Farsi).
  • Turkish or Urdu (under certain circumstances)

Judaic Studies

  • Hebrew (Biblical, Rabbinic, and Modern)
  • Greek, Aramaic, Arabic, Yiddish, and/or Polish (where appropriate)


Old Testament/Hebrew Bible

  • Biblical Hebrew
  • Greek
  • Biblical Aramaic
  • Ugaritic, Akkadian, Arabic, Greek, or Egyptian (in some cases)

For further information on a specific field please click the individual departmental link.