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Graduate Program in Religion


To find out information specific to the Religion Department application process, please go to Application Checklist.

Graduate Program

Graduate students in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University forge unique, creative, and rigorous programs of study that emphasize both research and teaching.

The study of religion at Syracuse focuses on the category “religion” as an intellectually provocative and problematic concept rather than simply as a descriptive, institutional, or phenomenological label. The Department takes two premises as fundamental to its educational program: 1) study of religion must be interdisciplinary, and 2) study of religion must investigate the material, textual, historical, and cultural dimensions of religions as well as the theories used to produce and analyze them.

The Graduate Program in Religion in Syracuse University's College of Arts and Sciences was founded in 1955. It has offered study toward the Ph.D. as well as the M.A. since 1969. Ph.D. training includes teaching mentorship and experience.


Concentration Areas


The Department offers three concentrations in the following interrelated areas of the study of religion that align with the distinctive research profile of its faculty. Each concentration gives sustained attention to religion, theory, bodies, gender and materiality.

COMMUNITIES AND IDENTITIES explores religion and spirituality in modern societies, both local and global, through the lenses of anthropology of religion and history of religions.

CRITIQUE, IMAGE AND POLITICS explores how religions shape and are shaped in aesthetics, ethics, psychology, sociology, philosophy, and political and culture theory.

TEXTS AND CONTEXTS explores literary and performative expressions of religion, including scriptures, through the lenses of history, philosophy, literary theory, and rhetoric.

Students are admitted to graduate study in the Department of Religion to conduct innovative and interdisciplinary research in one concentration and one traditional or regional religious culture. Currently the department can support study of the following traditional or regional religious cultures:

African American Hindu American
Jewish Buddhist Middle Eastern 
Christian Muslim East Asian
South Asian Indigenous (the Americas)

Students must follow their concentration’s curriculum throughout their course work. They will also be encouraged to take course work in other concentrations and other departments, as appropriate for their research interests and as approved by their advisor. They must also take the two-semester seminar on theories and methods in the study of religion (REL 601-603).

Our faculty all engage in one or more of the graduate research concentrations. For further information, see the faculty lists on each concentration’s page and the individual faculty pages. Graduate students develop a close intellectual relationship with the faculty in their chosen concentration(s), and also collaborate with faculty outside their concentrations for advice on pedagogy, grant proposals, and professional development.

Progress, Placements, and Dissertations

The Department's Future Professoriate Program provides graduate students in the opportunity to work with faculty in Religion and other departments to prepare for today’s competitive job market and for their careers. Almost two-thirds of recent PhD graduates occupy college or university teaching positions. For a list of PhDs awarded since 1990 and their placements, see Recent Dissertations, and for placesment data see Progress and Placements.

Our website has information on the specific requirements of the MA program and the PhD program. For any further information about our programs  please contact our Graduate Secretary, Jackie Borowve, and our Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Virginia Burrus, Dept. of Religion, Room 501 Hall of Languages, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244-1170. Phone: (315) 443-3861.