Program Requirements

For the full requirements, see the SGS Calendar or download the Graduate Handbook.

  • When you enter the program, the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) will assign you a First-Year Advisor. Working collaboratively with the First-Year Advisor and DGS, you will craft a coherent plan of study for the first year and record it the Program Memorandum (stating research area, required languages, and required courses).
  • During your first year, you will pick your Supervisor (in many or most cases, this will be the First-Year Advisor). Your annual supervisory meeting (by June, end of first year) will be with your Supervisor.
  • By around February of your second year, you and your Supervisor will form an Exams Committee of 3-5 faculty members, at least one of whom (in addition to the supervisor) must be DSR core faculty. Your annual supervisory meeting (by June, end of second year) will be with your newly formed committee.

Required Courses

Students are required to take four full-year (i.e. eight semester-long or half-year) courses, consisting of RLG 1000 plus six additional graduate seminars organized on a 1-2-3 principle:

  • RLG 1000Y: Method and Theory in the Study of Religion (2 semesters) 
  • 1 Gateway Seminar
  • 2 Internal Elective Seminars (i.e. half-year graduate courses offered by the DSR)
  • 3 Open Elective Seminars (i.e. half-year graduate courses offered in any department) 

This coursework requirement is a minimum. Students are welcome and encouraged to take courses beyond this requirement. They are especially encouraged to take language courses, as fits their program of study.

    Professionalization Seminar

    The professionalization seminar equips students with the institutional know-how that they will need to succeed in graduate school and beyond. It is organized into 12 modules (equivalent to a one-semester CR/NCR course) spread over five years, with specific modules addressed to particular points in students’ academic program. The professionalization seminar should be completed by the end of the fifth year. For a student to be eligible to apply for sixth-year funding, they must have completed all 12 modules. Additionally, students are strongly encouraged to attend the DSR’s annual Grant Writing Workshop. 

    • Pre-Candidacy Unit: 6 modules (2/yr) to be completed by the end of Third Year
    • Job Market Unit: 6 modules to be taken in either the Fourth or Fifth Year
    • Annual Grant Writing Workshop

    The 12-module requirement indicates a bare minimum of the workshops students can and should attend. Students are also strongly encouraged to attend the “Wild Card” professionalization seminars regularly offered by the department (e.g., on podcasting), as well as workshops offered by the Graduate Centre for Academic Communication (GSAC) and Teaching Assistants’ Training Program (TATP).

    Before you can take your General Exams, you must pass at least two departmentally administered Language Exams in languages other than English. These may be languages of scholarship and/or source languages, but may not be the classical and modern forms of a single language.

    The department offers regular courses in Sanskrit, Pali, Tibetan, and Hebrew, as well as occasional reading courses in other languages. Students are encouraged to take language courses across the University, as well as to apply for grants supporting summer language study abroad.

    • General examinations are taken in the third year of the program. When you form your committee by around February of your second year, you should begin creating your reading lists. Draft reading lists must be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies in June of the second year, alongside the annual supervisory meeting form. 
    • Ideally, exams will be completed by February of the third year, but must be completed by May at the latest.
    • Students will be examined on an established “area” or “subfield” of the study of religion (or optionally, two such areas) and on the narrower “topic” of the proposed dissertation research (i.e., an exam tailored to the student’s precise interests).
    • Students will take 2 (or optionally 3) written exams of 3 hours each, and an oral exam of 2 hours.
    • In most cases, the Exams Committee will continue on as the Dissertation Committee.
    • The proposal is due within three months of the General Exams.
    • The proposal should be 10-15 pages, plus bibliography, including:
      • A working title
      • A concise statement of the thesis topic and relation to scholarship in the field
      • A discussion of the principal sources and methods of inquiry
      • The reasons for believing that the thesis will constitute a significant contribution to the field
      • An outline of expected chapters
      • A timeline of research
      • A brief bibliography
    • Upper-year students must give a 2-hour presentation to the department.
    • The presentation should include the student's research, response from a faculty member, and Q&A.
    • The colloquium must be completed before the thesis defense
    • The dissertation is directed by the supervisor, with committee review at least once per year.
    • The student is responsible for convening the yearly meeting.
    • The defence is a 2-hour oral exam, including the following examiners: the student's supervisor, thesis committee members, a faculty member from the University of Toronto, and an external examiner.