Applying to the Graduate Program in Religious Studies

The Graduate Group in Religious Studies is accepting applications for the PhD program. Presently, no M.A. program is available. Please note that Penn does not offer ministerial degrees or training.

All applications must be submitted online. For more details, access the electronic application form: For additional information from the Graduate School in Arts and Sciences regarding their policies, visit the Grad Division’s policies and procedures.

Electronic applications are accepted from October 1st. The deadline for filing an application is midnight on December 15th. Applications and writing samples cannot be accepted after that date. The application fee is $80.00. For more information, please contact our Graduate Group administrator, Katelyn Stoler.

In addition with the on-line materials, applicants are asked to submit a writing sample of academic prose (e.g., a seminar paper), no greater than 30 pages in length. Writing samples must be uploaded in the online application.

Applicants are asked in their application to indicate what field of specialization they intend to pursue within Religious Studies. The Department especially encourages graduate applications in the following areas:

  • Buddhism; religions of South, Southeast, and East Asia (supervised by Prof. Justin McDaniel)
  • Religion in America, Pentecostalism, African American Religion, and Religion in the African Diaspora (supervised by Prof. Anthea Butler)
  • Second Temple Judaism; early Christianity; Judaism and Christianity in late antiquity (supervised by Prof. Steven Weitzman)
  • Medieval and modern Christianity (supervised by Prof. E. Ann Matter)
  • Islamic history and thought (supervised by Prof. Jamal Elias)

In advance of submitting their applications, applicants are encouraged to contact the specific faculty member(s) in their potential research area via email to schedule a phone/email conversation about their particular interests. Applications from students with other primary interests will be considered.

Applications are welcome from students from various academic backgrounds. Many applicants have already done extensive work in Religious Studies, either as undergraduates, or in post-baccalaureate or Masters programs elsewhere, while other applicants often will have majored in classics, philosophy, history, a modern language and literature, or area studies. In addition, in-coming doctoral students should typically have prior training in one or more of the research languages required for their fields. Students who enter the program with graduate-level credits at other comparable institutions may petition to receive transfer credit for up to a maximum of eight courses.


Normally, decision letters (acceptances or declines) will be sent out by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences by March 1. Waitlisted students will be notified via email.

For Further Information

For more information on the graduate program in Religious Studies, please visit Graduate Program Structure, or email Katelyn Stoler. Applications are to be submitted online
( and are accepted from  October 1st to December 15.