PhD in Religion: Online and Campus-Based Programs

Read about Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in religion programs, including those that are offered on campus and online. Find information on program requirements and courses, as well as career options and salaries for graduates. Schools offering Christian Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Religion Ph.D. Program Involve?

Ph.D. programs in religion examine the evolution of various religions and their impact on human society. You typically must choose a specific area of religious study, like Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism or African religions, when applying to a doctoral program in religion.

The length of a Ph.D. program generally varies from 4-7 years. At the end of the second year of a Ph.D. program, you usually must take a series of qualifying exams to assess your progress. These programs generally culminate in the completion of a dissertation, which you'll typically start around your third year of study. Your dissertation must be approved by a committee of faculty members before you can receive your doctorate.

Program LengthFour to seven years
Program FormatOn campus or online
Common CoursesBeginnings of Islam, women and religion, religious history in the U.S., religion and philosophy
Career OptionsResearch, postsecondary education

What Online Options Are Available?

Online Ph.D. programs in religion are available. You can also enroll in religious studies master's degree programs online, but these programs prepare you for religious leadership or seminary positions rather than postsecondary teaching. The coursework, therefore, is generally very different from a campus-based religion Ph.D. program because it focuses on sharing one particular religion with a community of worshipers.

What Classes Will I Take?

Classes for a Ph.D. in religion will vary depending on the religious specialty that you've chosen to study. However, all classes typically will explore religion in terms of anthropology, history, race and gender. Religion classes that you might take in a doctoral program include:

  • Religious ethics
  • Beginnings of Islam
  • Beginnings of Judaism
  • Study of the New Testament
  • History of early Christianity
  • Religious history in the United States
  • Women and religion
  • South Asian religious study
  • Religion and philosophy

What Can I Do with My Degree?

A Ph.D. program in religion prepares you for a career in research and postsecondary teaching. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment for postsecondary philosophy and religion teachers is expected to increase by 12% between 2016-2026 ( The BLS stated that Ph.D. graduates should have the best employment chances. Postsecondary teachers of philosophy and religion earned a median yearly salary of $71,890 in 2018, based on BLS figures.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Liberty University

    Liberty University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Liberty University:

    • Doctoral

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral

    Online Programs Available

  • Marquette University

    Campus Locations:

    • Wisconsin: Milwaukee
  • Yale University

    Campus Locations:

    • Connecticut: New Haven
  • Westminster Theological Seminary

    Campus Locations:

    • Pennsylvania: Glenside
  • Western Theological Seminary

    Campus Locations:

    • Michigan: Holland
  • Western Seminary

    Campus Locations:

    • Oregon: Portland
  • Wesley Theological Seminary

    Campus Locations:

    • Columbia (D.C.): Washington
  • Harvard University

    Campus Locations:

    • Massachusetts: Cambridge
  • Virginia Union University

    Campus Locations:

    • Virginia: Richmond