Description of PhD Program

The Religion PhD program provides an opportunity for qualified students to do graduate work in this discipline at the highest level and in the university setting. It provides preparation for research and teaching in graduate theological education and in the college and university setting where religion is taught as one of the liberal arts and in relation to other such disciplines, particularly the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. The Baylor program offers work in four areas: New Testament, Old Testament, Historical Studies, and Theological Studies (Historical Theology, Systematic Theology, Christian Ethics, Contemporary Theology, Religion and Literature). If you are unsure of which concentration you should apply for (particularly deciding between Historical Studies and Theological Studies), please contact the Graduate Studies Office Academic and Student Support Associate .

Jump to:

I. Course Work
II. Modern Foreign Languages
III. Preliminary Examinations
IV. Ph.D. Candidacy
V. Teaching Colloquy
VI. Dissertation
VII. Calendar for Ph.D. Program Completion

I. Course Work

For the Ph.D. in religion, a total of forty-five (45) hours is required; nine (9) dissertation hours and thirty-six (36) semester hours (minimum) as indicated here:

  • Major: Thirty-three (24) semester hours (minimum) in the field declared as the area of concentration (Old Testament, New Testament, Historical Studies, Theological Studies). All courses in the major must be at the 5000 level.
  • Elective Courses: A total of six (9) semester hours of graduate courses within the Religion Department (but not in major or cognate field) or graduate courses in other departments. Electives should be chosen in consultation with area faculty, to enhance the research or teaching interests of the student.
  • REL 5398: Theories of Religion


Religion Major Electives Theories of Religion (REL 5398)
24 hours:
  • 8 seminars in the students major. Each of the four majors offers two seminars every semester that students are expected to take.
9 hours:
3 Graduate level courses from any Baylor Graduate Program (except the student's concentration)
3 hours:
All first semester students will take REL 5398 together to learn the history and nomenclature of the academic study of religion.

II. Foreign Languages

The requirement of foreign languages as research tools is related to the major field of study and to research needs. The basic requirement is intermediate proficiency in two foreign languages, one of which must be attained prior to the fall semester. Methods for achieving the proficiency are described in the Graduate School Catalog. The following statements indicate the basic policy in each area:

  • Old Testament and New Testament: The requirement is German and French. The area faculty may approve the substitution of another language for French if the student's research needs justify the substitution.
  • Historical Studies: Students concentrating in Historical Studies will achieve intermediate proficiency in two languages, other than English, necessary to their chosen field of research. The two languages will be negotiated with Historical Studies Faculty and conveyed to the Office of Graduate Studies.
  • Theological Studies: The requirement is German and French. The area faculty may approve the substitution of another language for French if the student's research needs justify the substitution.

Additional language study may be required in relation to research needs. One language must be completed before the beginning of course work in the fall semester, and the faculty recommends that all language work be completed in summer sessions. All foreign language requirements must be completed before students begin the last twenty-four semester hours of course work.

III. Qualifying Examinations

Doctoral students will pass qualifying events at the completion of course work as laid out by the faculty in each area. Each area will distribute their expectations to students at new student orientation.

IV. Ph.D. Candidacy

Admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. with a major in religion requires 1) satisfaction of foreign language requirements; 2) satisfactory completion of qualifying examinations; 3) approval of student's dissertation prospectus by Religion Graduate Faculty; and 4) certification by the Dean of the Graduate School.

V. Teaching Colloquy

The purpose of the teaching colloquy is to help students 1) gain insights into the intellectual development of students; 2) learn practical approaches to classroom instruction of REL 1310 and 1350; 3) receive exposure to modern theories of teaching and learning.

Graduate Ph.D. students normally receive the opportunity to teach courses within the religion department. Students wishing to teach must meet the following requirements:

  1. Successful completion of qualifying examinations
  2. Current enrollment or completion of REL 5399 (Teaching Colloquy)
  3. Attendance of mentoring sessions with appointed supervisor in their first semester of teaching.

VI. Dissertation

The final stage in the doctoral work is the satisfactory completion of a dissertation in accordance with guidelines provided by the Department and by the Graduate School.

VII. Calendar for Ph.D. Program Completion

Coursework Summer Fall Spring
Before 1st year 1st Modern Foreign Language    
First Year   9 hours (3 courses) 9 hours
Between 1st & 2nd years 2nd Modern Foreign Language and Prelim Prep    
Second year   9 hours 9 hours
Between 2nd & 3rd years Prelim Prep and/or additional language    
Third year   Qualifying Exams Submit Topic Proposal and Defend Prospectus
End of third year Write Dissertation    
Fourth year   Write Dissertation Dissertation & Teaching Colloquy
Fifth year Dissertation Dissertation and Teaching  Dissertation, Teaching and Graduation