Philosophy of Religion

Michael Zank , Coordinator
147 Bay State Rd., Rm 407
Boston, MA 02215
T: 617.353.4434

The graduate program in philosophy of religion explores the reasons and rationalities embedded in a variety of religious traditions and the religious dimensions embedded in a variety of philosophical traditions. Graduate students in the philosophy of religion program are expected to become conversant with the methods of religious studies (including the history and phenomenology of religion), with traditional areas of philosophical study (metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and the history of ideas), and with the texts and normative discourses of the particular religious traditions relevant to their area of interest. Students in the Graduate Division of Religious Studies (GDRS) have access to the faculties of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GRS), the Boston University School of Theology (STH), and, through the Boston Theological Institute (BTI), other universities in the Boston area.

Doctoral students commence their programs by submitting an approved plan of study in consultation with their advisor(s). The general guidelines of the GDRS require that students take an introduction to the study of religion in their first year and a core-text course on the world’s religions. It is strongly recommended that candidates pass at least one of the two required foreign language examinations during their first year of study. Advisors determine which languages are appropriate to the student’s plan of study. Upon the completion of coursework, doctoral candidates take three qualifying examinations: (1) History of Philosophy, (2) Philosophy of Religion, and (3) a specialization exam, the particulars of which are developed in accord with the dissertation topic envisioned by the candidate. The specialization examination may be on a problem, methodology, or period in the philosophy of religion, for example, “The Problem of Creation in Medieval Philosophy,” “Pantheism in 18th- and 19th-Century European Philosophy and Theology,” “The Impact of Process Philosophy on the Philosophy of Religion,” “Phenomenology and Hermeneutics in the Study of Religion,” “Comparative Religious Ethics,” “Critical Theory and Religion,” etc. The successful completion of all qualifying examinations permits the candidate to move on to a dissertation prospectus, again in consultation with advisors. Upon approval of the prospectus, the candidate writes and defends the dissertation.

Masters degree candidates, upon the completion of coursework, may elect either to write and defend a thesis or to be examined on two major papers written during their program.

Degrees offered: Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy