PhD in Philosophy and Critical Thought

This area of study aims to examine religious concepts, beliefs, languages, and experience with the tools of philosophy and critical theory- thus exploring ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, and questioning aesthetic, social, historical, and ideological dynamics that undergird these religious beliefs and attitudes. Students and faculty seek to question the canon and the margins, past and future, and phenomena whose religious dimension might be obvious or less apparent. The range of questions and conversations can encompass scientific, political, financial, and societal issues. In addition to coursework in the Department of Religion, students are encouraged to take classes in Philosophy, Comparative Literature, Political Science, Media studies, Neuroscience and Economics—to name a few—depending on their background and research project.

Coursework requirements

Language courses in the languages needed to fulfill requirements for Ph.D. (at least one of which must be French or German).

Two courses in the history of western philosophy.

One course in a non-western philosophical tradition.

At least four seminars in the philosophy of religion Students will normally take at least four courses in an appropriately defined area of specialization that may be identified either in topical or historical terms and two elective courses.

Instruction in special tools required for the specific area of research (e.g. additional languages, advanced logic, research methods from another discipline) will be worked out in consultation with the advisor.

First Field Exams 

Two closed-book examinations -one on the modern period and one on a particular issue or problem. The topic for the second exam is to be determined in consultation with the faculty advisor.  Each exam is to be followed by an oral defense before a committee consisting of a least two faculty.  The examination committee may decide on one of three courses of action: (a) pass a student, (b) terminate a student from the program, or (c) allow the student to retake the exams.

Second Field Exam

A paper on a topic that will prepare the student to write the dissertation prospectus.  This paper might later become the focus of a chapter of the dissertation. Choice of topic is left to the judgment of the student in consultation with the faculty advisor. This exam is also followed by an oral defense before at least two faculty.