The Graduate Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto hosts the largest and most comprehensive religious studies graduate program in Canada and one of the largest globally. Our faculty includes anthropologists, sociologists, historians, philologists, philosophers, psychologists of religion, and legal scholars, as well as religious studies professors. Situated in downtown Toronto, one of the most culturally and religiously diverse cities in the world, the Department draws on the faculty strengths of all three campuses of the University of Toronto.
The Department’s academic task is distinct from the study of theology as pursued from within a faith-based commitment to any particular religious tradition. In the University of Toronto, this distinction is upheld institutionally by the separate functioning of the Department for the Study of Religion and the Toronto School of Theology.
The Department provides individualized programs of graduate study that are interdisciplinary and that make use of the rich and diverse curricular, library, and faculty resources that are available here at the University of Toronto. The Department’s master’s and doctoral programs aim to serve students with a wide variety of purposes. Our graduates go on to careers in teaching, public affairs, publishing, and academic research.
We invite all students and faculty interested in the study of religion to visit and participate in our lecture and colloquia events. For questions about the DSR, please contact us or refer to the Religion Graduate Handbook. For questions about the admissions process, please contact us or refer to the webpages on MA Application Information and PhD Application Information.
The graduate program in the Department for the Study of Religion offers concentrated study in several fields of specialization, with the understanding that these fields will shift over time alongside the larger discipline. The fields play an important but fluid role in our curriculum and intellectual life. At the present time, the department recognizes ten fields:
- Anthropology of Religion
- Buddhist Studies
- Global Christianities
- Islamic Studies
- Jewish Studies
- Religion, Culture, and Politics,
- Religion, Ethics, and Modern Thought
- Religions of the Americas and Turtle Island
- Religions of Mediterranean Antiquity
- South Asian Religions
The University of Toronto library system is consistently ranked among the top three research library systems in North America. It consists of some thirty libraries containing over nine million volumes. These resources are found chiefly in Robarts Research Library, located on St. George Street near the Department; but significant collections—often specialized—can also be found in the many colleges attached to the University. Particularly valuable to students of religion are the libraries of Trinity, St. Michael’s, Victoria and Emmanuel, Wycliffe, Knox, and Regis colleges, along with the South Asian Library, the East Asian Library, and the internationally renowned Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies.
The Department attracts visiting scholars, post-doctoral fellows, and research readers who come to the University to pursue programs of research. These visitors contribute to the intellectual life of the Department by taking part in graduate seminars, colloquia, and other events. The Department also periodically sponsors conferences and special lecture series, often in association with a college or other departments and centres in the University such as the following:
The Department functions as a community of professors and students engaged in the study of religion, together with the supporting members of the administrative staff. As much as possible, the Department fosters the understanding that professors and students are senior and junior members of the same community, working together in common academic pursuits.
Community life in the Department focuses on the second and third floors of the Jackman Humanities Building: the Large and Small Seminar Rooms, where public lectures, public meetings, classes and social events are held, and the Lounge where students have use of basic kitchen facilities. There are rooms with carrels for students, mailboxes, printers, and photocopiers. The Department maintains a job placement board as well as a board for announcements of events and a board with student photos and their area of research.
The Chair of the Undergraduate Department for the Study of Religion also serves as the Chair of the Graduate Department. The Chair is responsible for the overall operation of the Department, and is accountable to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. The Director of Graduate Studies serves as the coordinator for the graduate program and the Associate Chair–Undergraduate directs the undergraduate academic program. The Chair, the Graduate Director, Associate Chair, and Department Manager meet regularly as the Executive Committee of the Department. The Graduate Administrator assists the Director of Graduate Studies and runs the day-to-day academic operations of the Department. The Department Manager serves as the primary administrative, business, and human resources officer of the Department. The By-laws of the Department define the governance structure. A copy is available at the Department.
By statute, the professors and Department officers represent the University of Toronto in the operation of the academic program and in the assessment of the achievements of graduate students in fulfilment of the requirements for the degrees of M.A. and Ph.D.
Colloquia and Cohort Classes
The Department sponsors a colloquium that meets regularly to hear papers and hold discussions about the work of professors, visiting scholars, invited lecturers, and graduate students. All members are encouraged to propose papers. Each Ph.D. student must present a paper in the colloquium when at the dissertation writing stage, and this participation will be noted on their transcript. The Department expects graduate students to attend the colloquium as an important part of their scholarly formation.
All new doctoral students are members of RLG 1000Y, a Method and Theory seminar whose membership is restricted to first-year Ph.D. students of the Department. The seminar, which meets weekly throughout the academic year, is focused on fundamental questions of interpretation, explanation, and analysis in the study of religious phenomena. It serves as a primary way for students to engage in discussion about the study of religion in relation to their own academic interests as well as to develop a community of discourse among peers.
All new M.A. students enroll in the M.A. Method and Theory Group seminar (RLG1200H) which functions as a method and theory seminar designed to orient M.A. students to the research process at the graduate level.
In addition to fostering a learning environment for academic research, the Department also strives to provide students with opportunities to secure teaching experiences that will enhance their prospects for securing academic positions. The Department tries to meet this need by means of Teaching Assistantships and, in some cases, Teaching Fellowships and Course Instructorships. Department doctoral students are eligible to apply for enrollment in THE5000H, Teaching in Higher Education, a course devoted to helping graduate students acquire teaching know how, taught by accomplished teachers in the University. Research or work-study positions are also occasionally available, wherein students will work closely with a professor on a research project. All doctoral students are required to regularly attend Professionalization Seminars over the course of their program. The seminars consist of workshops on pedagogy and preparation for the job market.
The Department assists graduates in finding suitable initial positions, notably by holding workshops and giving advice on the job search, posting advertisements of position openings, maintaining a file of publications which advertise positions in the subjects covered by the Department, and writing letters of recommendation. Within the Department, these efforts are overseen by the Graduate Placement Officer. Additionally, the University operates a Career Centre in the Koffler Student Centre, which runs workshops, offers career advice, provides an academic dossier service and posts job notices.
The Department participates in a number of collaborative specializations at both the M.A. and Ph.D. levels. The purpose of these programs is to facilitate the creation of multi- and interdisciplinary programs of graduate study that creatively cut across the formal boundaries defined for departments and centres. Descriptions of these programs are found in the SGS Calendar. Further information is available at the Department and from the offices of each program.Students who wish to enter one of these collaborative specializations must meet the admission requirements and the program requirements of both the Department and the collaborative specialization. Students participate in two communities: they have the Department as their home department while at the same time they join in the activities of the collaborative specialization. Upon successful completion of all requirements, students receive their degree in both Religion and the collaborative subject.
In some cases, courses may be counted both for Religion credit and for collaborative specialization credit, with permission of the Director of Graduate Studies. Decisions about the fulfilment of the requirements are made by the Graduate Director at the Department and by the Director of each collaborative specialization.
The Department is currently associated with the following collaborative specializations:
Bioethics, Joint Centre for Bioethics
155 College Street, Suite 754 • phone: 416-978-1906 • fax 416-978-1911 • email@example.com
Book History and Print Culture
Massey College, 4 Devonshire Place • BookHistory@masseycollege.ca
Diaspora and Transnational Studies
Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies, Rm 230, Jackman Humanities Building• phone 416-946-8464 • fax 416-978-7045 • firstname.lastname@example.org
School of the Environment, 149 College Street, Suite 410, Fourth Floor • phone 416-978-3475 • email@example.com
Ethnic, Immigration, and Pluralism Studies
Munk School of Global Affairs, 1 Devonshire Place • phone 416-946-8993 • fax 416-946-8915 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Jackman Humanities Building 218, 170 St. George Street • phone 416-978-1624 • email@example.com
Robarts Library, 130 St. George Street, First Floor rooms 1153 & 1155, 416-978-KMDI (5634), firstname.lastname@example.org
Archaeology Centre, 19 Russell St. & phone 416-978-5248 • fax 416-978-3217, email@example.com
The Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, 15 King's College Circle Rm. 251 • phone 416-978-6276 • fax 416-971-2027 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Centre for South Asian Studies, 1 Devonshire Place, Room 228N • phone 416-946-8832 • fax 416-946-8838 • email@example.com
New College, 40 Willcocks St., Rm. 2036 • phone 416-978-3668 • fax 416-946-5561 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Women’s College Research Institute, 76 Grenville Street, 6th floor • phone 416-351-3732, Ext. 3824 • email@example.com
The School of Graduate Studies
A great deal of information on policies and procedures, student events, and graduate student life is available from the School of Graduate Studies (SGS). The website has essential information regarding fees, deadlines, and links to required forms. Each September, SGS publishes "The Essential Grad Guide," a guide to student services and resources.
Information about housing for students moving to Toronto can be obtained from the University of Toronto Housing Service, Koffler Student Centre, 214 College Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A1 (416-978-8045). The service maintains lists of off-campus accommodations located in the downtown area, and also acts as the admissions office for Student Family Housing and the graduate student residences.
Graduate Students’ Union
The GSU looks after the interests of all students in graduate programs of the university. It provides supplementary health insurance, publishes a Survival Handbook, and operates a pub and gymnasium.
The University offers a wide range of services to students, including the following: