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Prospectus for PhD in Religious Thought in Boston University's Division of Religious and Theological Studies
(a.k.a. constantly updated, hyperlinked "Blue Book")

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2. Requirements of the Doctoral Degree Program in Theology

2.1. General Requirements for all DRTS PhD Students

2.1.1. DRTS Admissions Requirements

For general admission requirements to DRTS, see here.

2.1.2. DRTS Degree Requirements

Degree requirements for all DRTS PhD students are listed here.

2.2. Special Requirements of the PhD in Religious Thought

2.2.1. Track-Specific Admission Prerequisites

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 the DRTS website.

2.2.2. 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.

2.2.3. 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.

2.2.4. 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.

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