Graduate Studies

The graduate program in the Department of Religion at the University of Florida is designed to prepare students for careers in teaching and research in three distinct fields of specialization: Religion in the Americas, Religions of Asia, and Religion and Nature.

For additional information, please refer to the Graduate Student Handbook.

The M.A. Program

The M.A. degree provides a broad background in the study of religious traditions and theoretical orientations in the discipline. An M.A. student can choose whether s/he will concentrate in one of the three fields of specialization. If s/he chooses to do so, s/he needs to take the courses required for that field of specialization. If s/he chooses not to, s/he can pick courses from across the fields. Course work culminates in a thesis and an oral examination on the thesis and course work.

The Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. program trains future scholars to conduct original research and teach in colleges, universities and other educational institutions. A student usually enters with a religion master’s degree either from this or another institution. Those admitted with master’s degrees in disciplines other than religion may petition to bypass the religion master’s degree with additional religion course work. All students are admitted into one of the three specialty fields and must fulfill the requirements of that field, as outlined in the field descriptions. Students in all fields are encouraged to take courses in other departments to support work in their field of specialization.

Course Work

Graduate students in religion ordinarily take courses of different kinds and for different purposes. One possible aim is to develop familiarity with leading traditions of research and analysis in religious studies. Another is to prepare for PhD examinations. A third is to pursue specific interests relevant to the student’s scholarly development, especially in relation to the thesis or dissertation. Students are expected to consult their supervisory committee chair and the department’s graduate coordinator in designing a course of study that satisfies these aims in the limited time available.

Every year a departmental seminar (Method & Theory I or II in alternate years) is offered on a topic of general interest in religious studies. This course is required of all first and second year graduate students. Its purpose is to help students develop awareness of various approaches to the study of religion, the history of these approaches, and their assumptions about understanding and explaining religious texts and behavior.

Specialized instruction within the field of concentration is carried on primarily in core and other related courses (as detailed in the field descriptions). The department also offers graduate seminars in related areas outside the specific fields of concentration. In addition, students regularly participate in individual or small reading courses with a member of the faculty, the form and content of which courses are tailored to the student’s particular needs and interests.

Almost all graduate students in religion take courses outside the department. Most enroll in graduate seminars and reading courses in such departments and centers as Anthropology, Asian Studies, Botany, English, History, Jewish Studies, Latin American Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology, Women’s Studies and Gender Research, Zoology, and from the interdisciplinary School of Natural Resources and the Environment.

While specific degree requirements and interests shape a candidate’s program, most generally enroll in three courses, including both seminars and reading courses, during each of the semesters prior to the M.A. thesis or Ph.D. qualifying examinations.

Mentoring

All students are assigned a faculty mentor upon admission to the program, based on expressions of faculty interest and the student’s intended area of concentration. The mentor and graduate coordinator answer questions and provide support for the student in choosing courses and planning a program. By the end of the second semester all masters degree students must designate their supervisory committee chair and one additional department committee member. By the end of the second semester all doctoral students must designate their committee chair. By no later than the end of the fourth semester of study, all doctoral students must designate a four member supervisory committee including the chairperson and one member from outside the department.

The graduate program in the Department of Religion at the University of Florida is designed to prepare students for careers in teaching and research in three distinct fields of specialization: Religion in the Americas, Religions of Asia, and Religion & Nature.