Track II: Religious Thought
Track II Coordinator: Shelly Rambo
Affiliated Track Faculty
John Berthrong, M. David Eckel, Walter Fluker, Ray Hart, Diana Lobel, Robert Neville, Mary Elizabeth Moore, Shelly Rambo, C. Allen Speight, Bryan P. Stone, Wesley Wildman, Claire Wolfteich, Michael Zank
This program guides students to develop skills in analytic thought and expertise in one of the following disciplines: philosophy of religion, comparative religious thought, historical/analytic theology, and religious ethics. Specialized research programs within this track include: (i) historical study of religious thought in one of these disciplines, (ii) analytic interpretations of religious subject matters within the domain of religious ideas, and (iii) the interdisciplinary study of religious thought in relation to cognate fields in the humanities, literary studies, fine arts, and social sciences.
Related degrees: The School of Theology now administers PhD programs in theology, and these should not be confused with the Track II PhD in Religious Thought. Students interested in learning more about these programs or applying for admission should visit the School of Theology’s admissions website. Please visit STH’s website for the latest on STH’s new PhD programs.
Track-Specific Admission Requirements:
Students entering the Religious Thought track should show transcript evidence of knowledge of the religious thought of at least two distinct traditions. Students should also demonstrate a strong background in one or more of the following areas: philosophy, theology, or ethics. Further background in the humanities, literary studies, fine arts, social sciences, or natural sciences is strongly encouraged, and required where relevant to a student’s proposed program of research.
Please note that this prerequisite is in addition to those outlined in the Admissions section of our website.
Track-Specific Course Requirements:
Students in the Religious Thought track are required to take Philosophical and
Theological Approaches to Religion (RN 797). Students in the Religious Thought track are required to take Core Texts and Motifs of World Religions (RN 723-724) or suitable alternatives in order to demonstrate broad religious literacy.
Track-Specific Language & Research Competence Requirements:
Beyond two modern foreign languages, students in the Religious Thought track who are working with primary written sources in foreign language(s) will need to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of grammar, syntax, and vocabulary in these language(s), at a level of expertise appropriate to the particular area of specialization. Normally, this expertise will be evaluated directly by Division faculty, during the stage of Qualifying Examinations.
Track-Specific Basic Structure of Qualifying Examinations:
Students will normally take four comprehensive examinations. The first examination will cover the field of religious thought, broadly speaking, including major themes in philosophy of religion, theology, and religious ethics. The second exam will treat core literature and methodological debates within the particular disciplinary tradition(s) in which each student is specializing. The third exam will treat the literature related to each student’s research specialty, testing both competence in a specialized area of research and the ability to articulate the relevance of that specialized area to the broader horizons of religious thought and religious and theological studies. For some students a fourth exam will test the student’s competence in the primary source language(s) most relevant for the chosen area of study. For other students the fourth exam may serve as supplement to the second, as described above.