PhD Program Overview

The graduate study of religion is a cooperative program among the Departments of Religion at Columbia University, Barnard College, and Union Theological Seminary. The curriculum is designed to provide:

  1. In-depth study in a particular area of specialization;
  2. Understanding of various methodological and theoretical approaches to the study of religion, including comparative approaches; and
  3. Investigation of problems or themes in one or more of the five zones of inquiry.

Students applying to the program must indicate their area of specialization and specify one or more zones.

In addition to members of the Religion Department, faculty members from other departments in the University participate in the religion program and students are encouraged to take advantage of the rich curricular and programmatic resources Columbia has to offer. By emphasizing both careful historical and critical analysis along with creative theoretical and cross-disciplinary investigation, the program prepares students to teach an unusually broad range of courses.

Fields of study: Arts, Material Culture and Performance; Buddhism; Christianity; East Asian Religions; Islam; Judaism; North American Religions; Philosophy and Critical Thought; Religion, Gender, and Sexuality; Religion, Race, and Indigeneity; and South Asian Religions.

Focus areas (Zones of Inquiry): Time (History, Modernity); Transmission (Tradition, Memory, Institutions); Space (Place, Geography, Virtual Space); Body (Materiality, Mind, Bio-ethics); Media (Transportation, Information, Communication).

Students admitted to the PhD program will receive a fellowship that covers tuition and fees plus a stipend for living expenses for five years. This support includes work as a teaching assistant for six semesters.