The Ph.D. program in religion at Harvard dates from 1934, when the Faculty of Arts and Sciences established a degree of Ph.D. in "The History and Philosophy of Religion". Its purpose, as stated by the Faculty, was "to make possible a course of studies which shall enable the candidate both to lay a broad and sufficient foundation for teaching and study within the field of religion, and to do individual research at some point in that field". In accordance with that expressed intention, the Faculty voted in 1963 to name the program The Study of Religion. This program is jointly offered by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and Harvard Divinity School and administered by the Committee on the Study of Religion. Faculty from both schools advise PhD students and offer classes in the program.
The ThD program in religion at Harvard has been offered by the Divinity School since 1914. That program came to be administered by the Committee on the Study of Religion in 1982. In 2014 Harvard Divinity School changed its doctoral designation from ThD to PhD. This means that all future doctoral students in Religion at Harvard, starting with those entering in fall 2015, will enter as PhD students. Those currently in the ThD program in the Study of Religion will continue to be candidates for the ThD.
At Harvard, advanced programs of study involving religion may be arranged under many auspices. The Ph.D. under this Committee, in "The Study of Religion", is one among various possibilities. Some candidates will find that they can best pursue their interests by becoming a candidate for the Ph.D. in such departments as Anthropology, Classics, History, East Asian or Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Philosophy, or South Asian Studies. More