Academic Program

Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion (GDR) is a unit of the Laney Graduate School and draws on the resources of the Department of Religion in Emory College and Candler School of Theology. Work in the GDR is oriented entirely toward the doctor of philosophy degree.

The GDR is organized into nine courses of study:

American Religious Cultures

Ethics and Society

Hebrew Bible

Historical Studies in Theology and Religion

Jewish Religious Cultures

New Testament

Person, Community, and Religious Life

Theological Studies

West and South Asian Religions

The PhD program requires two years of course work. While specific requirements vary among the courses of study, all students must take at least five doctoral seminars during the two years of course work. Individual courses of study may have certain required seminars, and independent studies may be arranged with professors. The equivalent of two seminars must be taken in an area of study outside one’s field of specialization, leading to a qualifying exam in that area. In the first year, there is a nongraded colloquium, coordinated by the GDR directors, which serves as an introduction to both the GDR and to the professional study of religion and theology. Dissertations are normally completed in the fifth or sixth year of a student’s program of study.

In the third year, students take doctoral (qualifying) examinations, proceed to a dissertation prospectus, and, by the fourth year, should be writing the dissertation. Dissertation committees are composed of at least three faculty members, not all of whom need be in the student’s particular course of study. Research funds are available to support travel and other expenses necessary for completing the dissertation.

Students in the PhD program must demonstrate their ability to read two modern languages (other than English), normally German, French and/or Spanish, but another modern language may be substituted if appropriate to the student’s research and approved by the student’s course of study. Competence in a first language is to be demonstrated by written examination at the beginning of the first semester in residence, and competence in a second must be demonstrated before preliminary examinations are administered. The biblical courses of study have additional requirements in the pertinent primary languages. Funds are available to support additional language training.

The academic program is supplemented by rigorous teacher training and ample teaching opportunites. All students participate in the Teaching Assistant Training and Teaching Opportunity (TATTO) Program as part of their course of study. The program consists of a summer workshop run by Laney Graduate School, held in August before entering the GDR; a specialized teaching seminar/workshop taken in the second year; two required teaching assistantships; and one teaching associateship. These teaching opportunities normally start in the second semester of the first year (generally connected to classes in either the Department of Religion or Candler School of Theology).

There also are increasing numbers of special workshops and lunches being offered to explore specific professional issues, including writing practices, conference presentation, and pedagogical questions.