Graduate Program


doctoral program

The department typically admits three or four doctoral students each year, and at any one time has about thirty students in the program.  All students receive five years of fellowship funding, which includes teaching assistantships and tuition for the academic year.  In addition, students receive three years of summer support. The department has faculty specializing, and training graduate students, in the study of:

Students declare an area of specialization in a particular period, topic, or corpus of materials, usually within one of these broad areas.

Most fields involve intensive text and language study as part of graduate training.  Students are expected to explore a wide range of methodological approaches to their chosen area of interest.  The department works collaboratively with faculty in other departments, and students are encouraged to use the resources available through the departments of History, Art History, Comparative Literature, Philosophy, Anthropology, and elsewhere, as appropriate.

Students benefit from a steady flow of outstanding visiting scholars, collaborative relationships with other institutions (including Stanford’s graduate exchange program), and opportunities to study abroad.  The annual student-run Graduate Student Conference is also a significant event in graduate student life.

A number of opportunities are available for extracurricular participation in the life of the department. Students run a graduate association, which organizes events, including an annual conference. A graduate student representative attends faculty meetings and works on student issues with the chair and graduate director. Students serve on admissions, faculty search, and other committees of the department.

degree requirements

The doctoral program involves three years of course work, followed by a qualifying examination in the field and area of specialization, and writing the dissertation. Total time to degree varies considerably, but most students take at least six years. (To fund extra years, many students apply for outside fellowships.)

Although course requirements may vary according to field, in general, the doctoral program encourages students to design their own curriculum, including work outside the department. All students take two seminars in theories and methods, a reading course on recent scholarship in religious studies, and two courses in a field outside their own, and a pedagogy seminar.

Reading competency in two modern foreign languages (one of which must be French or German) is required of all students. Additional languages, both modern and classical, may be required by particular fields and areas of specialization.

The program emphasizes preparation for both scholarship and teaching. During the third year, students work with the faculty to prepare a publishable paper in their area of specialization. In addition to working as Teaching Assistants, they will also at some point serve as a Teaching Intern for a course in their field.

special opportunities

Doctoral students in the department may make arrangements to study for limited periods at other universities. The university maintains a cross-registration policy with the University of California, Berkeley, that enables students to receive Stanford credit for courses taken there. For information, contact the registrar’s office.

Stanford also participates in an Exchange Scholar Program, which facilitates arrangements for visits of up to one year to selected U.S. universities. The current list of institutions includes: University of California, Berkeley, Brown University, University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University.

Students considering extended study at another institution should consult with their advisor, the Graduate Director, and faculty at the host institution. To apply for an exchange, please contact your home institution’s Office of the Registrar.

For more specific information regarding courses offered, steps to degree, and admission requirements, please download the Stanford Bulletin.

current doctoral students

Please see the students page: link

For detailed information on policies and requirements, please consult the Graduate Handbook.