Programs by Campus


Religious Studies
College of Arts and Sciences

Departmental E-mail: religion [at] indiana [dot] edu

Departmental URL:



Degrees Offered

Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy

Special Departmental Requirements

(See also general University Graduate School requirements.)

Graduate Record Examination General Test. In addition, Ph.D. applicants must submit a writing sample. Specific deadlines and expectations are spelled out in the Student Guide, available from the department office and on the department’s Web site.

Master of Arts Degree


B (3.0) average; B or higher for each course.

Course Requirements

A total of 30 credit hours, including R665, at least 2 other 600-level seminars, and 3 credit hours in each of the 3 divisions of the M.A. curriculum (religious traditions in the West, religious traditions in the East, critical issues in religious studies). Stu­dents choosing to write a thesis may register for 6 credit hours of R699; those opting for the language study project may reg­ister for 6 credit hours of R698. The distribution requirement is satisfied by taking courses in the Department of Religious Studies or cross-listed courses.

Language Work

All M.A. students must demonstrate reading proficiency in a language appropriate to their program of study, to be selected from the following: Arabic, Classical Chinese, French, Ger­man, Classical Greek, Hebrew (Biblical, Medieval, or Modern), Hindi, Japanese, Latin, Sanskrit, Spanish, Classical Tibetan. Another relevant language may be chosen with the approval of the director of graduate studies. Students may demonstrate proficiency in French, German, or Spanish by any of the three methods normally sanctioned by the University Graduate School. They may demonstrate proficiency in one of the other languages by successful completion of course work through the intermediate level or by departmental examination.

Thesis/Language Study Project/Examination Option

Students may complete degree requirements in one of three ways: (1) by writing a thesis, (2) by carrying out a language study project, or (3) by passing a comprehensive examination. The thesis option involves 6 credit hours of research and writ­ing in addition to 24 credit hours of course work. A thesis is generally 60–100 pages long and focuses on a theme, problem, and/or historical movement in the study of religion. The lan­guage study option involves use of a foreign language in which the primary or significant secondary sources of a religious tradition are written (e.g., Hebrew, Greek, Sanskrit, Chinese). The student must (a) demonstrate competence in the language (normally by passing an examination administered by the department); and (b) prepare a scholarly, annotated translation into English of a religious text written in that language, togeth­er with an introduction dealing with its historical and cultural context and significance. Students opting for the comprehen­sive examination may not take the examination until they have completed 30 credit hours of course work. The examination is in two parts: (a) general field examination, and (b) area exami­nation in the student’s field of specialization.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree

Admission Requirements

(1) Completion of an M.A. degree in the study of religion at Indiana University or another recognized institution, (2) a superior record in religious studies, (3) proficiency in one of the required languages, and (4) review and approval by a field committee consisting of faculty in the student’s major area of interest.


No grades below B (3.0) will be counted toward this degree.

Fields of Specialization

A doctoral student specializes in one of the fields of study that have recognized faculty advisory committees (e.g., region, tradition, or methodological approach). Each field has its own specific requirements, including required courses, language skills, and qualifying examination structures and bibliographies, which are determined by the faculty in that field. For the cur­rently available fields of study, their faculty members, and their requirements, see the department’s Web site and the Guide for Graduate Students in Religious Studies, which is available from the department office. With the approval of the department’s graduate studies committee, a student may combine two fields or declare a special field of study and form an ad-hoc advisory committee for it.

Course and Research Requirements

Doctoral students must earn 90 hours of graduate credit, no more than 30 of which may be transferred from other institu­tions. The department allows up to 30 hours of M.A. credit toward the doctorate, which means that doctoral students must earn 60 hours of credit beyond the M.A. Up to 30 of the total 90 credit hours may be designated as thesis hours (R699, R799). Thus, students whose 30 M.A. credit hours include 6 hours of thesis credit will earn 36 credit hours of course work and 24 credit hours of thesis at the Ph.D. level.

All doctoral students, regardless of field of specialization, are required to take R665 if they did not do so during an M.A. at Indiana University. All students must take a second thematic, methodological, or cross-cultural seminar in the department; the director of graduate studies will identify in advance courses that satisfy this requirement. Additional course requirements beyond the M.A. degree include 12 credit hours at the 700 level; R790, a one-credit hour course devoted to the develop­ment of teaching skills; and an outside minor (normally 12 credit hours).

Doctoral students are required to produce two research papers prior to taking the qualifying examination. These papers will normally develop out of 700-level seminars, although they may grow out of other research projects as well. Papers should be modeled on a submission to a refereed journal in the student’s field of study and should follow that journal’s requirements for length and documentation (e.g., Chicago Manual of Style, Turabian, MLA, SBL Handbook of Style). A faculty member must approve each research paper for the student’s file, but a stu­dent may not secure approval for both papers from the same faculty member. Length is normally 20–25 pages, exclusive of endnotes. An approved research paper may not be a language translation, a bibliographical essay, a text edition, or a set of field notes. Annotated translations may be accepted with the approval of the graduate studies committee.

Language Work

All candidates will be required to show proficiency in two modern languages of scholarship (French and German) and any necessary primary source languages required by their field. An­other modern language may be substituted for French or Ger­man with the approval of the director of graduate studies and the student’s advisors. Proficiency in primary source languages is demonstrated through methods determined by the faculty in the student’s field.

Qualifying Examinations

The faculty advisory committee in the student’s field sets and supervises the qualifying examination after the student has completed all residency requirements. The exam consists of a total of 12 hours of written exams, which are divided into 3 or more parts, followed by an oral exam, all taken within a 3-week period. The exam is initially taken in its entirety, but it may be retaken once as a whole or in part at the discretion of the faculty committee.

Termination of Enrollment in the Doctoral Program

If a doctoral student falls below a 3.0 (B) grade point average, fails either the written or oral parts of the qualifying examina­tion two times, or otherwise fails to make satisfactory progress toward the degree, the director of graduate studies, in consul­tation with the student’s advisory committee, can initiate steps to terminate the student’s enrollment in the program.

Final Examination

Oral defense of dissertation.

Ph.D. Minor in Religious Studies

Students electing the study of religion as an outside minor in a doctoral program will be required to complete 12 credit hours of course work. A maximum of 6 credit hours may be transferred from other institutions or taken from cross-listed courses. At least 6 credit hours are to be taken in the depart­ment.

Academic Bulletins

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