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University of Pittsburgh    
2016-2017 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Dec 07, 2023
2016-2017 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Religious Studies, PhD

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Requirements for the PhD Degree

Course Requirements: The PhD in Religion requires 48 credits beyond the MA (72 credits beyond the BA). Graduate students entering the PhD program from another institution may have up to 24 credit hours at the MA level applied toward the PhD degree. Transfer credits require a grade of B or better (or the equivalent) and must be for work germane to the MA degree in Religious Studies. Students entering the PhD program from another institution meet the distribution requirements as outlined in the departmental requirements for the MA degree (save for the thesis) in the course of earning the PhD degree.

PhD credits are distributed as follows:

  • All graduate students entering from another institution take “Perspectives on Religion” (REL 2710 , 3 credits)
  • Two courses on theories or methods related to the student’s primary or complementary methodological focus (6 credits). One of these courses (3 credits) is earned at the MA level.
  • Ten courses within the student’s areas of specialization (30 credits). Four of these courses (12 credits) are earned at the MA level.
  • Two courses in each of two religious traditions or contexts other than the student’s area of specialization (12 credits). Two of these courses (6 credits) are earned at the MA level.
  • Twenty-one elective credits, including courses devoted to the preparation of qualifying examinations, advanced language training, the preparation of the dissertation prospectus, and the research and writing of the dissertation (21 credits).

Preliminary Examination: The preliminary examination is required of students who enter the PhD Program with a Master’s Degree from another institution. See the “Comprehensive Examination” in the MA Program.

Language Examinations: Verification of reading knowledge of two modern second languages is required. Determination of the two required modern languages is made on the basis of research needs and professional expectations in the student’s area of specialization. Students whose research primarily involves English-language sources or one language of research still satisfy the two modern languages requirement. Students pass one of the language requirements prior to sitting for the comprehensive examination.

When applicable, an intermediate or advanced level of competency in modern and/or classical second languages judged necessary for research and standard in a student’s area of specialization is required for admission into the program. Additional modern and/or classical language study, as appropriate, may be required as part of the student’s professional training.

Comprehensive Examination: Students take the comprehensive examination upon completing all required course work (save for a maximum of 6 credits devoted to preparation of the dissertation prospectus and research and writing of the dissertation) and passing the preliminary and language examinations. The examination is designed to test for both breadth and depth in the student’s area of specialization and intended area of research by evaluating the student’s critical abilities in three fields that impact the dissertation. The examining committee is comprised of three faculty members chaired by the dissertation advisor. Three written field examination are followed by a one-hour oral defense.

Dissertation Prospectus and Overview: Defense of the dissertation prospectus at a two-hour overview meeting is the final stage before application for admission to PhD candidacy (ABD status). The dissertation committee is composed of four faculty members chaired by the dissertation advisor.

Dissertation: The doctoral dissertation is an independent, original, and significant contribution to knowledge, grounded in an appropriate body of primary and secondary sources. Successful completion of the dissertation signifies the preparation of the author to assume a position within the profession. The dissertation is defended at a two-hour oral defense.

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