Which Universities Offer a Doctor of Philosophy in Religious Studies?

Universities offering a Doctor of Philosophy in Religion typically require students to concentrate in a specific theological area. Most religious studies Ph.D. programs consist of 6-7 years of coursework and research and require students to complete a dissertation. Get info about the programs at three well-known schools here. Schools offering Christian Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Religious Studies Overview

A Ph.D. in Religious Studies is the terminal degree in religious education. Degree candidates often have extensive education and professional experience, and admission can be highly selective. Concentrations are available in a number of categories, allowing students to specialize their education in whichever field they prefer.

Important Facts About Doctor of Philosophy Degrees in Religious Studies

Prerequisites Undergraduate degree required; Master's degree preferred
Online Availability Yes
Common Courses Medieval Latin reading, New Testament, early Christian liturgies
Possible Careers Clergyman, director of religious education, social worker
Median Salary (2018)$40,810 (Directors, religious activities and education)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)7% (Directors, religious activities and education)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

The University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame is a 4-year, private Catholic research institution near South Bend, Indiana. The Department of Theology at Notre Dame is renowned for the academic research and publications produced by its scholars. Particular strengths are in the areas of African religion and Latino spirituality.

Most Doctor of Philosophy in Theology candidates at Notre Dame are pursuing careers in research, teaching or church service. Because the university is affiliated with the Congregation of Holy Cross, Catholic culture permeates many aspects of campus life, making it easy for religion scholars to interact with spiritual students and clergy. According to the department website, priests, nuns, lay people and other members of religious orders regularly share their theological perspectives with students.

Concentration Areas

  • Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity
  • Liturgical Studies
  • Moral Theology
  • World Religions
  • Systematic Theology
  • History of Christianity

Yale University

Yale University is a private research school located in New Haven, Connecticut. The Ivy League school consistently ranks at the top of both national and international lists of the best institutions of higher learning. U.S. News and World Report ranked Yale as the third best college in the nation in 2019. It is also the third best Ivy League School, according to the report, behind only Princeton and Harvard.

At the graduate level, the Yale Department of Religious Studies is organized into ten different fields, each of which offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Religion. The Department of Religious Studies also offers a dual Ph.D. option for students who wish to study both American religious studies and African-American studies. Religious studies doctoral students can often be found in the Yale Divinity School Library, which houses one of the most comprehensive reference collections on Christian thought and history in the world.

Concentration Areas

  • American Religious History
  • Ancient Christianity
  • Asian Religions
  • Islamic Studies
  • Judaic Studies
  • New Testament
  • Old Testament/Hebrew Bible
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Religious Ethics
  • Theology

Harvard University

Harvard University is a private school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near Boston. Founded in 1636, Harvard is the oldest university in the U.S. The school is also widely considered the premiere university in the nation and one of the best in the world. The 2019 U.S. News and World Report listed Harvard as the second-best institution of higher learning in the United States. The religious studies Ph.D. program at Harvard is highly competitive, as all applicants are required to know two modern languages in addition to English. Doctoral candidates choose to focus on one of 18 concentrations, although they often take courses in areas outside of that specialty. Harvard students can expect to earn the Ph.D. in seven years. A 300-page dissertation is required prior to graduation.

Concentration Areas

Here are just a few of the potential concentrations students may pursue at Harvard.

  • African Religions
  • Buddhist Studies
  • East Asian Religions
  • Ethics
  • Greco-Roman Religions
  • Hindu Studies
  • History of Christianity
  • Islamic Studies
  • Jewish Studies
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Religion and Society

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