Ph.D. Requirements

American Religious History
History and Ethnography of Religions
Religion, Ethics, and Philosophy
Religions of Western Antiquity


American Religious History

American Religious History
Coursework 
Hour Requirements: at least 30 hours beyond the MA level (27 with MA thesis in Religion) and at least 24 hours of dissertation credit.
Students pursuing the Ph. D. degree are required to take 30 hours (10 courses) of graded course work beyond the Master's level and 24 dissertation hours for a total of 54 credit hours. As students focus their interests, they might be required to engage in further study beyond the 30 hours if their specialties require it. The completion of a Master's Thesis in Religion qualifies a student for a 3-hour reduction in the Ph.D. coursework requirement. The 30 hours of graded coursework should be distributed as follows:

  • Required Course: REL 5035 Introduction to the Study of Religion
  • Seminars: At least 15 hours of graduate seminar courses in American religious history; including a 6000-level course in the historiography of North American religions
  • Secondary Area: 6 hours of additional courses in religion
  • Exam preparation: 6 hours of reading preparation for comprehensive exams

Languages 
Prior to sitting for the doctoral exams, a student must demonstrate reading competency in two research languages beyond English, ordinarily French and German. A student may substitute Spanish for one of those languages in cases where projected research requires it. Likewise, depending on the focus of the dissertation, a student may be required to acquire competency in additional languages, such as Creole and Native American languages, Latin and Greek, or Asian languages.
Exams 
An intensive period of examination takes place at the completion of coursework for the Ph.D. and prior to writing a dissertation prospectus. Students write essays in response to questions in four areas and take an oral exam based on their essays. Students work out reading lists for each of their exams in consultation with their advisor and two additional faculty members who serve as their exam committee. Exams periods are at the end of fall semester and at the end of spring semester. The four exam areas are:

  • American Religious History: This exam focuses primarily on the historiography of American religion. The exam covers the history of comprehensive scholarly narratives about American religious history as well as historical analyses of major topics and trends.
  • Methods in American Religious History: This exam involves explanation and analysis of several different methods useful in historical studies of American religion. Methods discussed in this exam might include, for example, ethnography, gender theory, spatial analysis, and one more or more types of textual, sociological, or psychological analysis. This exam will also test critical use of historical sources.
  • Outside Area: Ph.D. candidates are expected to show mastery of an area of study in religion outside American religious history. This exam tests that mastery and is designed to help qualify students to teach at least one course in an area outside their specialization in American religious history. 
  • Dissertation Area: This exam focuses on the subfield within American religious history in which the student will write a dissertation.

Prospectus 
Upon satisfactory performance in the doctoral exams, a student will prepare, in consultation with an advisor, a dissertation prospectus. The prospectus must be delivered to the Graduate Studies Committee in the semester immediately following the doctoral examinations. The prospectus should include a thesis statement, an explanation of how the thesis will be developed and argued from one chapter to the next, and a discussion of the originality of the dissertation thesis with respect to existing scholarly literature. The prospectus should also include a working bibliography. The Committee may require that a candidate revise and resubmit the prospectus. Acceptance of the prospectus signifies the advancement of the student to "Ph.D. candidate" status.
Dissertation and Defense 
The dissertation is to be written under the guidance of the student's doctoral advisor. A committee of at least four faculty members, including three from the Religion Department and one from another department, will read the dissertation and set a time for the oral defense. The student will formally defend the dissertation before the committee and peers.
Continuation of Funding 
Departmental funding for a doctoral student will expire 24 months after the completion of the doctoral exams.

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History and Ethnography of Religions

Coursework

Hour Requirements: at least 24 hours beyond the M.A. in Religion or relevant discipline and at least 24 hours of dissertation credit. 

In consultation with HER faculty, doctoral students will develop a program of course work and advanced research allowing both breadth and depth in the historical and anthropological study of religion, specializing in one of four individual areas of specialization: 

  • Religions of Asia (Buddhism, Hinduism)
  • Religions of Africa and the Caribbean
  • Religions of the Mediterranean
  • Religions of Western Europe 

Students pursuing the Ph.D. degree in one of these areas of specialization are required to take 24 credit hours (8 courses) of graded course work beyond the M.A. level (M.A. level is the equivalent of 33 credit hours of graduate course work) and 24 dissertation hours for a total of at least 48 credit hours. The 24 credit hours of graded course work should be distributed as follows:

  • Primary area of specialization: Four courses (12 credit hours)
  • Secondary area of specialization: Two courses (6 credit hours), which may be inside or outside the HER concentration 
  • Theory and method: Two courses (6 credit hours), which may be taken in another department, with prior approval
  • Dissertation research (24 credit hours) 

Languages

Doctoral candidates must meet the following minimum language requirements. Languages chosen must be relevant to the field of specialization and approved by the student's faculty committee.

  • First research language, up through 4th year level or equivalent
  • Second research language, if required for the area of specialization
  • Reading knowledge of French, German, Italian, or Spanish, demonstrated by passing the reading knowledge exam (Another language may be substituted with approval).  

The languages necessary for advanced research in each field of specialization include the following:

  • Buddhism: Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese
  • Hinduism: Sanskrit, Hindi
  • Chinese Religions: Chinese, Japanese
  • African Religions: To be determined in consultation with advisor*
  • Islam: Arabic
  • Christianity (medieval or early modern): Latin  

*Students specializing in Religions of Africa and the Caribbean will determine relevant languages for their research in close consultation with faculty. They should learn about and consider studying any relevant lingua francas, local languages, and European or European-based pidgins and/or creoles used in their research areas. Students will want to learn where such languages are taught in the United States and Africa and whether or not FLAS grants would fund such study. 

Exams

By the end of the semester preceding the completion of course work, a proposal for the content and schedule of the comprehensive exams is worked out between the student and the faculty committee. Comprehensive exams usually begin after all course requirements (including languages) are completed. It is required that all exams be completed within one week, followed then by an oral defense with the faculty committee to be scheduled within two weeks of completion of the corresponding written exam. Successful completion of comprehensive exams signifies the advancement of the student to "Ph.D. candidate" status. 

Exams will be completed in the following four areas:

  • Primary religious tradition (Buddhism, Hinduism, Chinese religions, Islam, African or Caribbean religions, or Christianity)
  • Secondary religious tradition (Buddhism, Hinduism, Chinese religions, Islam, African or Caribbean religions, or Christianity, but with approval may choose Judaism, Jainism, or Sikhism)
  • Theory and methodology in the study of religion, including theory and method specific to student's dissertation research
  • Comparative theme, phenomenon, or issue in religious studies (e.g., asceticism, pilgrimage, sacrifice, nationalism, gender, iconography, a philosophical concept, etc. to be chosen in consultation with the committee) 

Prospectus

Upon satisfactory performance in the doctoral exams, a student will prepare, in consultation with an advisor, a detailed dissertation prospectus. The prospectus must be delivered to the Graduate Studies Committee in the semester immediately following the completion of doctoral examinations. In the case of students applying for dissertation fellowships with early deadlines, it may be submitted earlier. The prospectus should include a thesis statement, an explanation of how the thesis will be developed and argued from one chapter to the next, and a discussion of the originality of the dissertation thesis with respect to existing scholarly literature. The prospectus should also include a working bibliography. The Committee may require that a candidate revise and resubmit the prospectus. 

Dissertation and Defense

Dissertation in area of primary tradition. Extended ethnographic and archival study abroad in a country relevant to the candidate's dissertation research is required as a part of the dissertation preparation. 

Continuation of Funding

Departmental funding for a doctoral student will expire 24 months after the completion of the doctoral exams.

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Religion, Ethics, and Philosophy

Coursework

Hour Requirements: at least 24 hours beyond the MA in Religion and at least 24 hours of dissertation credit.

Students who obtain the Ph.D. in Religion with concentration in religion, ethics, and philosophy will normally complete 24 hours (8 courses) beyond the M.A. The goal of competence is primary, however, and individual students may be advised to take additional hours to ensure adequate preparation. The precise program of courses will be determined in consultation with area faculty.

Languages

Students will also satisfy language requirements, as follows: reading competence in two languages of research (usually French and German), as shown either by successful completion on a test administered by the FSU Department of Modern Languages, or by prior work (with cases to be determined by area faculty); competence as necessary for the student's area of research (for example, students engaged in comparative analyses of Islamic, Buddhist, or Hindu materials will be expected to show an acceptable level of competence in primary source languages.) Please note: It is expected that students entering the Ph.D. program will show competence in at least one language of research prior to beginning coursework.

Exams

Following completion of coursework and language requirements, students may be approved for a set of comprehensive exams. These examinations are for the purpose of demonstrating competence for teaching and research in areas related to the goals of the religion, ethics, and philosophy program. In consultation with area faculty, individual students design a proposal for these exams, which typically will include an exam focused on theory and method in the study of religion; an exam focused on modern and historic expressions of religious thought in Christianity or Judaism; and two special areas of particular relevance to a student's interests. We strongly urge students to take up a second religious tradition as one of the special areas. Exams may be administered in a number of ways; determination of scheduling and format is a matter for student proposals, which then may be modified or approved by the faculty.

Prospectus

Upon satisfactory performance in the doctoral exams, a student will prepare, in consultation with an advisor, a dissertation prospectus. The prospectus must be delivered to the Graduate Studies Committee in the semester immediately following the doctoral examinations. The prospectus should include a thesis statement, an explanation of how the thesis will be developed and argued from one chapter to the next, and a discussion of the originality of the dissertation thesis with respect to existing scholarly literature. The prospectus should also include a working bibliography. The Committee may require that a candidate revise and resubmit the prospectus. Acceptance of the prospectus signifies the advancement of the student to "Ph.D. candidate" status.

Dissertation and Defense

Following successful completion of examinations, students work with faculty on a dissertation, understood to be an original contribution to scholarship.

Continuation of Funding

Departmental funding for a doctoral student will expire 24 months after the completion of the doctoral exams.

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Religions of Western Antiquity

Hour Requirements: at least 24 hours beyond the MA level and at least 24 hours of dissertation credit.

Prerequisites

  1. Reading knowledge of two of the following languages: Greek, Hebrew, Latin, French, or German. One of these must be Greek or Hebrew at the intermediate level.

  2. M.A. with a significant concentration in Western Antiquity.

Concentrations

Upon entering the program, students must choose one of three concentrations: (I) Ancient Judaism (Exile through Late Antiquity); (2) Ancient Christianity (First through Fifth Centuries); (3) Ancient Judaism and Christianity. Changing the student's concentration will require the approval of the RWA faculty.

Coursework

Requirements that must be met during the PhD program

At least eight graduate courses must be taken during the doctoral program (not including beginning language work, professional development, supervised teaching, etc.). Four of these must be seminars in Ancient Judaism or Christianity, with at least one seminar in each tradition. In addition to these seminars, students will take two additional courses in the area of their concentration. Area 3 concentrators will take at least two seminars in each tradition.

Requirements that may be met during an MA Program.

  • REL 5035: Introduction to the Study of Religion

  • Hebrew Bible Proseminar

  • New Testament Proseminar

  • Judaism and Christianity: 

    • Christianity in Antiquity I and II (or equivalent at another institution)

    • Two advanced surveys dealing with Judaism in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

  • Graeco-Roman World: Two graduate-level courses dealing with the Graeco-Roman World that do not focus on Judaism or Christianity. 

  • Outside Field: Two graduate level courses in religion (or a field related to religion) that do not deal primarily with the ancient world.

Languages

  • French and German (third-semester course or university exams)

  • Classical Greek and Hebrew (third-semester course level of one and fourth-semester course level of the other). 

  • Aramaic/Syriac (one semester)

  • Concentrators in Ancient Judaism must have an additional semester of Aramaic/Syriac. Concentrators in Ancient Christianity must have two-semesters of Latin. Concentrators in area 3 (Judaism and Christianity) must have either an additional semester of Aramaic/Syriac or two semesters of Latin.

  • Ancient language and at least one of the modern language requirements must be met before students can begin exams. All requirements must be met before student is admitted to candidacy (ABD).

Exams

Normally exams will be taken during the 3rd year of the PhD program within six months of the completion of course work. 

For each of these exams students will choose:

  • Greek or Hebrew Language: The exam will be based on a text the student has prepared in advance and must be approved by the RWA faculty. It should not be a text that has been read as part of a Greek or Hebrew course. The Hebrew Exam will be based on approximately 30 BHS pages of a prose text or 20 BHS pages of a poetic text. The Greek Exam will be based on a text of approximately 25 pages (c. 5000 words) from Philo, Josephus, Lucian, Plutarch, Justin, or Eusebius.

  • Graeco-Roman World: Based on a reading list of primary and secondary texts dealing with the history, philosophy, literature and religion of the Graeco-Roman world. 

  • Christianity in Late Antiquity (through the mid fifth century): Based on a Reading List of primary and secondary texts. More extensive knowledge of the ancient evidence and modern scholarship will be expected for three special areas.

  • Judaism from the Babylonian Exile through Late Antiquity: Based on a Reading List of primary and secondary texts. 

The language exam will consist of a written translation exam. The Graeco-Roman World, Christianity, and Judaism Exams will each consist of a written and oral component, the latter to be scheduled within two weeks of the corresponding written exam. For each of these three exams, in addition to gaining familiarity with the general content and key issues of all the primary and secondary literature on the reading lists, students will choose: (1) two themes or issues that will require analysis of a broad range of material from the reading list and (2) a special area that will require more extensive knowledge of the ancient evidence and modern scholarship for the subject.

Committee

No later than one month after passing exams, a dissertation committee will be formed. The committee will have at least four members and will typically include all RWA faculty in residence as well as the required outside committee member from a department other than Religion. As far as possible, the outside committee member should be familiar with the area and/or methods relating to the dissertation.

Prospectus

Upon satisfactory performance in the doctoral exams, a student will prepare, in consultation with an advisor, a dissertation prospectus. The prospectus must be delivered to the RWA faculty in the semester immediately following the doctoral examinations. The prospectus should include a thesis statement, an explanation of how the thesis will be developed and argued from one chapter to the next, and a discussion of the originality of the dissertation thesis with respect to existing scholarly literature. The prospectus should also include a working bibliography. The Committee may require that a candidate revise and resubmit the prospectus. Acceptance of the prospectus signifies the advancement of the student to "Ph.D. candidate" status.

Dissertation and Defense

Following successful completion of examinations, students work with faculty on a dissertation, understood to be an original contribution to scholarship.

Advising

Upon entering the program, each student will be assigned an advisor from the RWA faculty. At the beginning of each semester, students will discuss possible courses with their advisor and will then submit a list of proposed courses to the RWA faculty for approval. Although students will have one advisor for administrative purposes, they are encouraged to discuss their interests and plans with all members of the RWA faculty.

Progress Review 

There will be a meeting of the RWA faculty and each student toward the end of the Spring Semester, during which the student's progress toward his/her degree will be reviewed. 

Continuation of Funding

Departmental funding for a doctoral student will expire 24 months after the completion of the doctoral exams. 

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