Site Navigation
Important Notice and Disclaimer
Faculty of Graduate Studies General Information
Graduate Students' Association (GSA)
Academic Schedule
Faculty of Graduate Studies Degrees Information
Awards and Financial Assistance for Graduate Students
Fees and Expenses
Academic Regulations
Handbook of Supervision and Examination for New Students (Applicable to students admitted for Fall 2014 and beyond)
Handbook of Supervision and Examination (Applicable to students admitted prior to Fall 2014)
Program Descriptions
Anthropology ANTH
Archaeology ARKY
Biological Sciences BISI
Biomedical Engineering BMEN
Chemistry CHEM
Communication and Culture CMCL
Communications Studies COMS
Computational Media Design CMD
Computer Science CPSC
Culture and Society CUSP
Drama DRAM
Economics ECON
Education Graduate Programs
Engineering Programs ENGG
Engineering, Chemical and Petroleum ENCH
Engineering, Civil ENCI
Engineering, Electrical and Computer ENEL
Engineering, Geomatics ENGO
Engineering, Mechanical and Manufacturing ENME
English ENGL
Environmental Design EVDS
French, Italian and Spanish FISL
Geography GEOG
Geoscience GLGP
German GSEA
Greek and Roman Studies GRST
Haskayne School of Business: Management MGMT
History HIST
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program IGP
Kinesiology KNES
Linguistics LING
Mathematics and Statistics MTST
Medicine Programs
Military and Strategic Studies CMSS
Music MUSI
Nursing NURS
Philosophy PHIL
Physics and Astronomy PHAS
Political Science POLI
Psychology PSYC
Public Policy PPOL
Religious Studies RELS
Social Work SOWK
Sociology SOCI
Sustainable Energy Development SEDV
Veterinary Medical Sciences VMS
Interdisciplinary Specializations
Courses of Instruction
Student Services
About the University of Calgary
Graduate Studies Calendar 2014-2015 Program Descriptions Religious Studies RELS
Religious Studies - RELS
Contact Information

Location: Social Sciences Building, Room 1301
Program number: 403.220.6988
Fax: 403.210.0801
Email address:
Web page URL:

1. Degrees and Specializations Offered

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Master of Arts (MA), thesis-based


  • Eastern Religions
  • Nature of Religion
  • Western Religions
  • Israel Studies (Interdisciplinary)*

Feasibility of areas within these specializations depends on available research resources and faculty expertise; refer to section 15 of this entry for more information.

*See the Calendar section on Interdisciplinary Specializations for further information.

2. Admission Requirements

In addition to the Faculties of Graduate Studies and Arts requirements, the Department requires:

Master of Arts

a) An admission grade point average of 3.30 or higher on a four-point scale and a minimum of six full-course equivalents in Religious Studies (or their equivalents), usually including at least one full-course equivalent from each of the three streams (Eastern, Western, Nature), as determined by the graduate committee.

b) A reading knowledge of a modern language other than English or of a classical language appropriate to the thesis research. The language requirement normally should be met before admission to the master’s program.

c) Two reference letters.

d) Applicants must include in their application package a sample of written work (e.g. a recent research essay).

Doctor of Philosophy

a) A degree comparable to the University of Calgary Religious Studies Master of Arts with a minimum grade point average of 3.50 on a four-point scale.

b) Two reference letters.

c) Applicants must include in their application package a sample of written work (e.g. a recent research essay).

Students with an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies, a grade point average of 3.70 or higher, and evidence of competence in the required languages may be admitted directly into the doctoral program or may be considered for transfer to the doctoral program after the first year of the master’s program. Such applicants must include in their application package a detailed statement (10 pages) of the purpose, field, and course of study to be pursued in the program.

3. Application Deadline

Deadline for the submission of complete applications is January 7 for September admission.

4. Advanced Credit

Any requests for advanced credit must be made when applying for admission. Credit will not be given for course work taken as part of another completed degree/diploma or for courses taken to bring the grade point average to a required level for admission. Graduate course work completed before admission and not counted toward satisfying undergraduate degree requirements will be assessed by the Departmental Graduate Committee to determine course requirements.

5. Program/Course Requirements

In addition to Faculties of Graduate Studies and Arts requirements, the Department normally requires:

Master of Arts (thesis-based)

a) Five half-course equivalents (in addition to individualized requirements that may be set by the Departmental Graduate Committee at the time of admission).

b) A thesis proposal to be presented to the Graduate Studies Committee for evaluation and approval before the second annual registration.

Doctor of Philosophy

a) For students with a Master of Arts in Religious Studies, five half courses are required )in addition to individualized requirements that may be set by the Departmental Graduate Committee at the time of admission):

b) For students with a BA Honours or for students transferring from the master's program, eight half courses are required (in addition to individualized requirements that may be set by the Departmental Graduate Committee at the time of admission):

6. Additional Requirements

PhD Language Requirements

Before the written candidacy examination, doctoral students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of at least two languages other than English. At the discretion of the Department and upon recommendation of the Graduate Director, competency in additional languages may be required. The foreign language requirement may be satisfied in two ways:

a) Successful completion (final grade of "B" or higher) at some stage of the student’s university program of at least two full-course equivalents in a first language other than English, and one full-course equivalent in a second language; or

b) Successful completion (grade of "B" or higher) of a language examination administered by the Department of Religious Studies or by another department on behalf of the Department of Religious Studies. When the test is administered by another department, it will consist of a passage or passages selected by the supervisor and/or any requirements that the other department may deem necessary; the test will be graded by the examiner(s) of the other department. When members of the Department of Religious Studies administer the test, the examination questions will be determined, administered, and graded by two members of the Department (one of whom normally will be the supervisor) who have expertise in the language under consideration. In the event that a second person with expertise in the required language is not available, the Department Head may seek an expert from outside the department.

7. Credit for Undergraduate Courses

Credit for undergraduate courses will be given only upon approval of the Departmental Graduate Committee.

8. Time Limit

Expected completion time for full-time students is two years in the master’s program and four years in the PhD program. Maximum completion time is four years in the master’s program and six years in the doctoral program.

9. Supervisory Assignments

The Departmental Graduate Committee assigns an advisor (interim supervisor) when an applicant is recommended for admission to the Faculty of Graduate Studies. A regular supervisor must be assigned by the beginning of the second registration year.

10. Required Examinations

The doctoral candidacy examination includes two written components and one oral component. Each written candidacy examination focuses on one aspect of the student’s doctoral research in Religious Studies:

Examination A – theory and method in the study of religion
Examination B – religious beliefs and practices in context

The written examinations are based on a bibliography established by the candidate in consultation with the supervisory committee and must be taken no later than 26 months after admission to the program. The oral examination is based on the bibliography, the written examinations and the thesis proposal.

Final thesis oral examinations are open.

11. Research Proposal Requirements

The thesis proposal must be approved by each member of the student’s supervisory committee, acknowledged by individual signature and date on the front cover, and by the Departmental Graduate Committee, no later than 24 months after admission to the program with a completed master’s degree. The proposal should be no more than 20 pages in length and must obtain all required approvals before the student is allowed to take the candidacy examination.

An approved thesis proposal is the basis of consensus on a candidate’s research program. When, as sometimes happens in the course of a research project, the research focus or methodology shifts markedly:

a) The candidate will forward a letter to the supervisory committee to document the shift and the reason for the shift. The student also shall compose an addendum, to be appended to the initial proposal, detailing the new direction and supplying any necessary additions to the bibliography.

b) The supervisor, on behalf of the supervisory committee, will reply to the revised proposal indicating acceptability and/or required revisions.

Students should be aware that such shifts may entail revision of the supervisory committee structure.

12. Special Registration Information


13. Financial Assistance

Financial assistance may be available to qualified students. For information on awards, see the Awards and Financial Assistance section of this Calendar or inquire of the Department.

Students applying for scholarships must submit their applications to the Department by February 1.

14. Other Information


15. Faculty Members/Research Interests

Research is supported in the following areas:

Eastern Religions – Buddhist Studies; Chinese Philosophy; Hinduism; Indian philosophy; South Asian Religions.

Nature of Religion – Comparative religion; comparative philosophy and religion; religious pluralism; science and religion; women and religion; religion and film; religion and place studies; African religions; new religious movements; hermeneutics; theory and method in the study of religion.

Western Religions – Ancient Israel; Biblical mythology; Rabbinic Judaism; Jewish philosophy; Christian origins and early Christianity; women in early Christianity; early modern Protestantism (Anabaptism, German Pietism, Protestantism and Enlightenment); Christian spiritual autobiography.

Current faculty research areas can be found at