Admission to the Ph.D. program in the Study of Religion at Harvard is very competitive: typically only 5-6% of all applicants are admitted. Basic requirements, as a minimum, include a bachelor's degree, or its equivalent, with an undergraduate record of outstanding quality - a previous master's degree is not required, but it is the rare, exceptional student who is admitted without one. Similarly, while a previous major in the field of religion is not required, the applicant's background in this and related subjects is a critical consideration.
Application is made through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. For detailed requirements and to apply online, please go to: The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, Religion.
Applicants must submit: current GRE scores; TOEFL scores if a non-native English speaker unless the applicant holds a B.A. degree (or equivalent degree) from an English-speaking university; note that for the Ph.D. in Religion, the minimum TOEFL scores are 620 for the paper-based test, or 105 for the Internet-based test. In addition, applicants must submit an abstract of courses, three letters of recommendation, and a Statement of Purpose outlining their proposed project. A brief writing sample is not required but helpful. Applicants should indicate, on the Proposed Program Sheet, the broader area within the study of religion in which they expect to work and the special interests they would like to pursue.
NOTE: The deadline for application to the Study of Religion is 5 p.m. Tuesday, December 15, 2015 for AY 2014-15 (Eastern Standard Time). If you anticipate needing assistance, please contact us before 4 p.m. Friday, December 11, 2015. We do not offer rolling admissions.
Please note the fields listed on our site are the current fields of study. The Committee on the Study of Religion admits students to the doctoral program who have clearly defined intellectual interests. Applicants should choose only one area of specialization from the list. There may be cases where students' interests span two fields: in such a case a student - for example, interested in Buddhism in America - may be referred to readers in two fields, in this case Buddhist Studies and Religions of the Americas. Applicants must clearly explain their interdisciplinary interests in their statement of purpose and also state which field would be their primary home. If you find your particular field of interest is not on the GSAS site please contact us and note the field of study in your proposed program sheet.
All doctoral applicants are expected to have foundational language work needed for primary research (textual or ethnographic) in the area of specialization (Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic, Chinese, etc.) at the time of application. In addition, as described in detail further on, admitted students must demonstrate reading competence in two modern languages of secondary scholarship relevant to their course of study. These languages are determined in consultation with an adviser after admission to the program.
All admitted students receive the same financial aid: five years of tuition and fee assistance plus stipend, including summer stipends after years one through four. The stipend in years three and four is primarily underwritten by Teaching Fellowships. The fifth year of funding is intended for a student's final year in order to complete the dissertation.