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Department Information

The Graduate Program in Religious Studies comprises programs of study leading to the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. The primary goal of both degree programs is to prepare persons for academic leadership in the field and hence for professional careers as teacher-scholars in colleges, universities, and schools of theology.

We are fortunate to have a first-rate faculty. Faculty members from Perkins School of Theology and from the Department of Religious Studies in Dedman College constitute the faculty of the program. Other departments and research centers in the university, such as the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, the Center for the Study of Latino Christianity and Religions, and the departments of History, Philosophy, and Anthropology, provide additional academic resources for its students. It is supported by the University's extensive library system, especially the renowned Bridwell Library, which has distinctive collections in religion and theology and state-of-the-art research facilities.

Program Features

Ph.D. students focus their work in one of six specialized fields of study:

  • Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
  • New Testament
  • History of the Christian Tradition
  • Religion and Culture
  • Religious Ethics
  • Systematic Theology

Degrees Offered

Explore Our Graduate Programs in Religious Studies

Southern Methodist University Facilities

The Religious Studies graduate research program is well equipped to support graduate-level research. 

Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility

Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility

 

Our Mission

The Maguire Ethics Center seeks to recognize, honor, and model ethical behavior, provide moral reflection on contemporary issues, and celebrate ethics that reflect SMU's fundamental goals.

What We Do

Student Formation:

Helps students connect their intellectual, spiritual, and leadership capacities for service to the world around them; provides resources for them to accomplish "hands-on" projects aimed at increasing student advocacy leadership, ethical reflection, and service skills; and emphasizes ethical leadership and day-to-day decision making. The Center seeks to challenge and encourage the development of ethical discernment, imagination, and action among students.

Curricular and Faculty Development:

Supports the creation of undergraduate, graduate and professional-school courses in practical ethics and leadership studies and assists university faculty in bringing research into their classrooms, and integrating ethics with their community service.

Community Dialogue:

Addresses pertinent contemporary issues with conferences throughout the academic year. Local and national experts in their field stimulate discussion and thought with participants by sharing their insights and experiences across a wide range of topics.

Community Partnerships:

Collaborates with civic, professional, and business organizations to offer university resources to build healthier communities in the DFW area and to provide students with internships and other personal and professional growth opportunities.

Participates in the burgeoning national commitment to "university citizenship" through research and publication on ethics and leadership and to promote Southern Methodist University as a key voice in national conferences on leadership, service, and ethics-related scholarship and education.

Public Virtue Recognition:

Honors community citizens who exemplify the spirit of moral leadership and public virtue.

 

 

The Bridwell Library

The Bridwell Library

 

The Bridwell Library at SMU's Perkins School of Theology is a world-class theological library with over 500,000 volumes and a 50,000-volume Special Collections which includes many print editions from the Middle Ages and Renaissance to the present day, as well as manuscripts going back to the first century.

Admission Requirements

  • B.A. or equivalent degree from an accredited institution.
    • Cumulative GPA of 3.00 or above (4.00 scale)
  • Satisfactory score on general test of the GRE, which is ordinarily a combined score of verbal and quantitative sections of 310 or above on the new test, or 1200 or above on the old test. Current student averages are: verbal 681, quantitative 627, combined 1308, analytical writing 4.5.
  • Sufficient previous study in religion or related areas to prepare the student to complete their degree according to the schedule. We do not accept any transfer credits.
  • When English is not an applicant's native language, a satisfactory TOEFL score is also required:
    • Internet-based version, 79-80 or better (preferably 100 or better)
    • computer-based version, 213 or better (preferably 250 or better)
    • paper-based version, 550 or better (preferably 600 or better)

The M.A. degree and Ph.D. degree are two separate programs. The M.A. is a terminal degree and is not a gateway to receiving a Ph.D. (credits will not be transferred).

  • B.A. or equivalent degree from an accredited institution.
    • Cumulative GPA of 3.00 or above (4.00 scale)
  • Satisfactory score on the general test of the GRE, which is ordinarily a combined score of verbal and quantitative sections of 310 or above on the new test, or 1200 or above on the old test. Current student averages are: verbal 681, quantitative 627, combined 1308, analytical writing 4.5.
  • Sufficient previous study in religion or related areas to prepare the student to complete their degree according to the schedule. We do not accept any transfer credits.
  • When English is not an applicant's native language, a satisfactory TOEFL score is also required:
    • Internet-based version, 79-80 or better (preferably 100 or better)
    • computer-based version, 213 or better (preferably 250 or better)
    • paper-based version, 550 or better (preferably 600 or better)

The M.A. degree and Ph.D. degree are two separate programs. The M.A. is a terminal degree and is not a gateway to receiving a Ph.D. (credits will not be transferred).

Deadlines for Admission

Application deadline for completed applications is January 6th. If you apply for admission by December 22, the $75 application fee will be waived. Final due date is January 6th, 2019.

Departmental Assistantships

Doctoral students are required to serve as a Teaching Assistant and as a Research Assistant twice each during their time in the program. These positions are tied to the funding that a student receives. After these assistantships are fulfilled, a limited number of teaching and research assistantships are occasionally available in SMU's Perkins School of Theology and in Dedman College’s Department of Religion for additional pay. Furthermore, there are some restricted scholarships and fellowships for which graduate students in religious studies may be eligible.

All applications for department assistantships must be completed by the priority deadline. Applications received after the applicable priority deadline may be considered for any remaining funds and openings.

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Degree Requirements

The student is encouraged to develop an area of concentration in his or her 18 hours of undesignated coursework. A maximum of six credit hours may be taken in independent study courses. Concentrations in areas of scholarship represented primarily in the Department of Religious Studies in Dedman College are especially welcome. Students whose main interests are in areas represented in the typical theological curriculum are advised to consider the Master of Theological Studies degree in Perkins School of Theology as an alternative to the M.A. degree in the Graduate Program in Religious Studies.

  1. Satisfactory completion of 30 credit hours of approved coursework, including the four courses of the core seminar in Religious Studies: RELI 6301 The Philosophical Study of Religion; RELI 6302 Approaches to Asian Religion; RELI 6303 History, Theory and Method in Religious Studies; and RELI 6304 Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Religion.

  2. Demonstrating, by examination, a reading competence in an approved language, other than English, relevant to the field of study.

  3. Satisfactory completion of a master's thesis.
  1. Satisfactory completion of 48 credit hours of approved coursework, including the four courses of the core seminar in Religious Studies: RELI 6301 The Philosophical Study of Religion; RELI 6302 Approaches to Asian Religion; RELI 6303 History, Theory and Method in Religious Studies; and RELI 6304 Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Religion.

  2. Demonstrating, by examination, a reading competence in two approved languages, other than English, relevant to the field of study. (For students in the two fields of biblical studies, four languages are required. Examinations must be passed in both Hebrew and Greek as well as in two additional languages.)

  3. Passing four comprehensive field examinations on the subjects designated for examination in the student's field, each consisting of a six-hour written examination based on the bibliography agreed upon with the examiner and the second reader.

  4. Securing the steering committee's approval of a dissertation proposal endorsed by the student's adviser, two other members of the Graduate Program in Religious Studies faculty and one reader from outside the Graduate Program in Religious Studies faculty.

  5. Satisfactorily meeting the practice teaching requirement.

  6. Satisfactorily completing the doctoral dissertation.
  7. Passing an oral examination covering the student's entire course of study as well as the dissertation.

Student Spotlight

Mark-Wiebe

Mark Wiebe, Ph.D., 2013

From 2009-2013, while completing a dissertation for a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Southern Methodist University, Mark Wiebe worked as an adjunct instructor in the Religion and Philosophy Department at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He completed his B.A. in Biblical Studies in 2002 and his M.Div. in 2005 from Abilene Christian University. Mark joined the faculty of Lubbock Christian University in 2013.

Research and teaching interests include systematic theology, analytic theology, philosophical theology, historical theology, divine providence, the metaphysics of free will, the theology of Luis de Molina, the theology of Augustine, and the theology of Thomas Aquinas.

Questions?

Do not hesitate to contact your program of interest with any questions you might have!

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