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Religion PhD

This degree is offered conjointly with the Département des sciences religieuses of the Université du Québec à Montréal and the Faculté de théologie et de sciences religieuses of the Université Laval. There are five areas of concentration: theories of religion, history of religions, contemporary religious phenomena, Judaic studies, and comparative religion and ethics. A student chooses to register in one of the three universities on the basis of the match between faculty expertise and the student’s specialization, and is subject to that university’s regulations. Each student is graduated by the university of their registration. The joint degree provides a context for collaboration between the three departments, with some exchange of faculty for teaching and direction. There are two required doctoral seminars one of which is common to students at all three universities in alternate years.

The doctoral program in Religion at Concordia places strong emphasis on a comparative approach. The comparative study of religion incorporates a number of different but related inquiries, including: examination of the inter-relations between religious beliefs and practices; analysis of religions as social and cultural phenomena and of cultures and societies insofar as they have been influenced by religious traditions; study of inter-relations between religions and human values; investigation of religious ethics; as well as analysis of social issues from the perspective of religious values. These studies are comparative insofar as particular expressions of religions and ethics are viewed as unique but historically situated realities which often can best be understood by making formal or informal comparisons with other comparable realities.

Although the requirements are fundamentally the same in all three universities, the remainder of this section applies only to students registered at Concordia.

Admission Requirements

  • MA in Religion, or equivalent, with high standing from a recognized university.
  • 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.

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.

Transfer Credits. See Transfer Credits in Graduate Admissions section.

Degree Requirements

Fully-qualified candidates are required to complete a minimum of 90 credits.

6 credits – Doctoral Seminar

RELI 890 (6 credits)

6 credits – Seminar in Specialization

RELI 891 - Religions and Cultures Doctoral Seminar (6 credits)
RELI 892 - Judaic Studies (6 credits)

18 credits – Directed Reading

RELI 800–818 Topics in Judaic Studies
RELI 820–839 Topics in Religions and Cultures

15 credits – Comprehensive Examination

RELI 860 - Doctoral Comprehensive Examination (15 credits)

45 credits – Thesis

RELI 870 - Doctoral Thesis (45 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, Religions and Cultures Doctoral Seminar (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.

Academic Regulations

  1. Academic Standing. Please refer to the Academic Standing section of the Calendar for a detailed review of the Academic Regulations.
  2. Residence. The minimum period of residence is two years (6 terms) of full-time graduate study beyond the master’s degree, or the equivalent in part time study, or three years (9 terms) of full-time graduate study beyond the bachelor’s degree.
  3. Time Limit. Please refer to the Academic Regulation page for further details regarding the Time Limit requirements.
  4. Graduation Requirement. In order to graduate, students must have satisfied all degree requirements and have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00.


Since the topics of elective courses are subject to modification according to student enrolment and demands, no course list is provided in this calendar.

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