PhD Program & Timeline

Students are expected to complete the Ph.D. in five to seven years. Only in unusual cases can the program be completed in less than four-and-a-half academic years.

For more detailed information about the program, please review the Handbook for Ph.D. students (see sidebar) which is updated annually.

Years 1 & 2: Coursework, Languages & 2nd Year Review

Full time study is required during years one and two, which means 4 half-courses each term with a minimum of a "B" grade average. Students in the Ph.D. program register for courses through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Courses pertinent to their different areas of study may be found across departments and schools in the Harvard University Catalog. Courses not designated with an FAS course number may be available for cross-registration. For tuition requirements, see the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Handbook or the GSAS Guide to Admission and Financial Aid.

  • Courses required for specialization
  • Religion 2001 (first term)
  • Religion 2002 (fourth term)
  • Two additional courses outside the area of specialization
  • Two modern languages of secondary scholarship
  • Additional languages as required for specialization
  • The 2nd year review occurs by the end of the fourth term

Year 3: General Examinations & Student Teaching

  • Students teaching is guaranteed for 2/5 per term (two traditional course sections)
  • General Examinations are to be completed by the end of the 6th term

Year 4: Dissertation Prospectus

  • To be completed within 12 months of taking of the general exams

Year 5 and Following: The Dissertation

  • After approval of the prospectus, at least one chapter per year must be submitted to the advisor
  • To be completed, normally, by the end of the seventh year