The Department of Religions and Cultures is one of the largest in Canada, with faculty expertise in a variety of historical and geographical areas (e.g., Europe, North America, the Middle East, South and East Asia) and spanning multiple traditions including Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. We offer unique strengths in Canadian Jewish Studies, Religions and Cultures in Roman Late Antiquity, and Women, Gender and Sexuality, and Iranian Studies.
Our department offers an exceptional environment for graduate studies, where strong mentoring and a collegial environment are hallmarks of our doctoral program. Students develop professional and transferable skills through involvement with its student journal and conference.
Many of our doctoral students have opportunities to design and teach their own courses, gaining professional experience that provides them with a competitive advantage in their careers.
A Master of Arts in Religion, or equivalent, with high standing from a recognized university.
The Department will consider the application of students to the PhD program for entry without completion of the master's degree if the following requirements are met:
the student has completed 18 credits of graduate level course work in Religion with high standing;
the student is recommended by full-time members of the faculty of the Department of Religions and Cultures;
the student has acquired a breadth of knowledge in the study of Religion through course work or scholarly or professional experience;
the student has demonstrated her or his ability to do independent graduate-level research in religious studies, and has demonstrated the ability to produce an original analysis of her/his research (in the form of research papers, conference papers, or publications);
the student has a well-formed and focused research plan that will serve as a basis for her/his doctoral research.
Proficiency in English. Applicants whose primary language is not English must demonstrate that their knowledge of English is sufficient to pursue graduate studies in their chosen field. Please refer to the Graduate Admission page for further information on the Language Proficiency requirements and exemptions.
Credits. A fully-qualified candidate is required to complete a minimum of 90 credits.
Doctoral Seminars. All candidates must register for RELI 890 (6 credits) in their first or second or equivalent year of study. This seminar will deal with general and methodological issues in the study of religion. It will be held in common with UQAM and Université Laval; discussion and readings will be both in English and in French. In the first or second or equivalent year of the program, the student will register as well for one of the following seminars according to their specialization: RELI 891, Comparative Religion and Ethics (6 credits), or RELI 892, Judaic Studies (6 credits).
Courses. A student is required to register for a minimum of 18 credits of directed reading. These courses are offered according to the resources of the department and the needs of the students. They are grouped into RELI 800-818 (Topics in Judaic Studies) and RELI 820-839 (Topics in Religions and Cultures). Some of the courses at the Master of Arts level are open to PhD candidates, with the requirement of additional work and higher standards of performance.
Comprehensive Examination. Graduate students in Religion at the doctoral level are expected to pursue a program of independent study and research in their chosen field. After course work is completed, all candidates must take RELI 860: Doctoral Comprehensive Examination (15 credits). The comprehensive examination will consist of three written exams followed by an oral examination which reviews these exams. In most cases, two of these written exams focus on topics from two distinct religious traditions; the third written exam will be on a topic related to a student’s proposed thesis. One of the three exams should include a focus on theory and methodology. Credits are not distributed among these four examinations. For purposes of registration, this work will be designated as RELI 860 and is graded as pass/fail.
Thesis. Each candidate will prepare a doctoral thesis which is to be an original contribution to scholarship. Although the topic should be provisionally chosen and serve as a coordinating factor throughout the student’s doctoral program, a written proposal must be formally submitted and approved by the Graduate Studies Committee after the successful completion of the comprehensive examination. For purposes of registration, the thesis will be designated as RELI 870: Doctoral Thesis (45 credits).
Language Requirement. Students must achieve an acceptable command of the classical and/or modern languages appropriate to their area of specialization. Specific requirements in terms of numbers of years of study and examinations or other demonstrations of competence are established in consultation with the Graduate Program Director and the thesis supervisor. Students are also expected to be proficient in the language or languages of the primary sources relevant to their thesis research. All Canadian students are required to demonstrate a working knowledge of both English and French.
Statement of purpose should include a brief description of your particular academic interests and the pertinence of your educational background to those interests. Please include mention of your competence in languages relevant to your study
Description of Proposed Research should include a description of a proposed thesis, including methodology and select bibliography. The description should be from 1,000 to 2,000 words, and the bibliography should present ten to twenty primary and secondary sources. You may include this item together with your Statement of Purpose.
The interests and focus of many students evolve and change in the course of their academic career, and you will not be obliged to write on the topic you propose in your Description of Proposed Research. The Admissions Committee will use your Description of Proposed Research to assess your ability to conceive a viable project and to identify potential advisors
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Funding opportunities include a variety of entrance scholarships and fellowships, which are available on a competitive basis. Consideration for entrance awards is given to applicants applying for fall admission, and is automatically part of the admission process.
Teaching assistantships are available and awarded to students on a competitive basis. Faculty members offer research assistant positions based on their own research grants.
The Department has unique strengths in the areas of Canadian Jewish Studies, Religions and Cultures in Roman Late Antiquity, Iranian Studies, and Women, Gender and Sexuality (WGS). Faculty are well-represented in numerouspublications.
The Faculty hosts a monthly Women, Gender and Sexuality Seminar that attracts students and faculty from around the university and from other local universities. This seminar brings world-class faculty to present their research in the department. Recent visitors include: Isabelle Clark-Decés (Princeton); Robert Orsi (Northwestern University); Caroline Walker Bynum (Emerita Columbia); and Joan Wallach Scott (Institute for Advanced Studies).
Review a list of recent thesis topics, and read about some of our exceptional graduate students. Many of our graduate students hold prestigious grants, and routinely publish and present their work in local, national, and international venues.