Applying to the Graduate Program in Religious Studies

The Graduate Group in Religious Studies is accepting applications for the PhD program. Presently, no M.A. program is available. Please note that Penn does not offer ministerial degrees or training.

Applications are welcome from students from various academic backgrounds, though some exposure to the academic field of Religious Studies in an academic setting is usually required. Many applicants have already done extensive work in Religious Studies, either as undergraduates, or in post-baccalaureate or Master’s programs elsewhere, while other applicants often will have majored in classics, philosophy, history, a modern language and literature, or area studies. In addition, incoming doctoral students should typically have prior training in one or more of the research languages required for their fields (see fields of study for details). Students who enter the program with graduate-level credits at other comparable institutions may petition to receive transfer credit for up to a maximum of eight courses.

All applications must be submitted online through the School of Arts and Science's online application portal. For additional information, please see the Grad Division’s policies and procedures

Applicants are asked in their application to indicate what fields of specialization they intend to pursue within Religious Studies. While the department strongly encourages creative work that synthesizes diverse approaches to the study of religion, applicants should indicate at least one, and no more than three, research areas when completing the graduate school application. For reference, the areas listed on the application are as follows:

In addition to the online materials, applicants are asked to submit a writing sample of academic prose (e.g., a seminar paper), no greater than 30 pages in length. Writing samples must be uploaded in the online application.

In advance of submitting their applications, applicants are encouraged to contact the specific faculty member(s) in their potential research area(s) via email to schedule a phone/email conversation about their particular interests. Applications from students with other primary interests will be considered.

Electronic applications are accepted from October 1st. The deadline for filing an application is midnight (ET) on December 15th. Applications and writing samples cannot be accepted after that date. The application fee is $90.00. 

Normally, decision letters (acceptances or declines) will be sent out by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences by March 1. Waitlisted students will be notified via email.