The principal objective of the graduate program is to provide students with the research and teaching tools that may lead to academic positions and other careers in which the academic skills of a religionist are utilized. We train specialists to think, write, research, and communicate about the diverse forms of expression found in and among the world's major religions.
The graduate program is organized around three thematic subfields of study—religion, ethnicity and culture; religion and modernity; and text in context—and four areas of specialization that reflect our faculty’s strengths in religion in America, religions of Asia, Jewish history, and religious thought and language.
We share common interests in cross-cultural and transnational dialogue and approach the academic study of religion from historical, philosophical, and ethnographic/social scientific perspectives. We work on such themes as the relationship between doctrine and praxis, religious transmission and transformation, secretive societies, religion in Diaspora, ritual and power, intellectual and institutional history, history of the book, popular religion and culture, hermeneutics, language and metaphor, religious violence, religion and nationalism, politics and material culture, and the hierarchies of ethnicity, race, and gender.
The department administers two graduate programs: the MA program, making use of resources at the University of Pittsburgh, and the PhD Cooperative Program in Religion, which includes, in addition to University resources, selected faculty members at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Both programs also utilize selected faculty at other area institutions. The graduate program is governed by the more general regulations established by Pitt's Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, which awards both the MA and PhD degrees.
The department's interdisciplinary and multicultural nature attracts graduate students with diverse interests and from varied backgrounds. The department nurtures the professional development of graduate students through a strong sense of community, collegiality, and self-governance; an open and innovative environment in which to study; and a vigorous commitment to careful mentorship in all aspects of career building.
We are no longer accepting students into our graduate programs.