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The Religion Department at Claremont Graduate University contributes to the disciplined study of religion, including—but also transcending—considerations of particular communities of belief and practice.

The PhD in Religion trains graduate students in the theories, methods, and knowledge they need in order to participate in and shape the study of religion in the 21st century as well as to apply those tools to productive careers outside the academy. Students enrolled in this PhD program must choose from one of the following areas of specialization: Critical Comparative Scriptures, History of Christianity & Religions of North America, Philosophy of Religion & Theology, and Women’s & Gender Studies in Religion. In special circumstances, students may work with faculty to create an area of specialization outside these areas.

Program Highlights

Program at a Glance

72 units

4-7 years

*Actual completion times will vary and may be higher, depending on full- or part-time course registration, units transferred, and time to complete other degree requirements.

Fall | Spring


PhD in Religion

Featured Courses

Bishops & Orthodoxy

Investigates the politics of theology in the formation and evolution of orthodoxy through episcopal letters, canons of church councils, ordination liturgies, and biographies of famous bishops.

REL 362
Theories of Religion

Takes an in-depth survey of the major theories of religion as they are portrayed through some of their influential interpreters in the post-Enlightenment West.

REL 462
Religion in America: 1600-1865

Surveys major themes and issues in early American religious history, from Puritanism and Native American religion to growing religious diversity in the new nation.

REL 437
Women in the Books of Samuel

Offers close reading of the stories in the Books of Samuel examining the role and function of women.

REL 306
Egyptian Christianity & Monasticism Under Islamic Rule

Introduces the history and legacy of Christianity in Egypt under Islamic dynasties from the attitude of Muslim rulers toward the Copts and Egypt’s monastic heritage to the present day.

REL 323
The Origins & Influences of the Zoroastrian Tradition

Examines the background and beginnings of the Zoroastrian religion and its role in the three great Iranian Empires: Ancient Persian, Parthian, and Sasanian.

Areas of Concentration


Tracks of Study
Track of Study
Coptic Studies
The Coptic Studies curriculum provides a comprehensive survey of the religion’s influential history and current membership and is an invaluable contribution to such degree programs as the History of Christianity or Philosophy and Religious Theology. Courses include a Coptic literature seminar, “The Religious Heritage of Egypt,” “Coptic Art & Archaeology,” and “Christianity in Egypt: History & Culture.”
Track of Study
Mormon Studies
Mormonism is fully explored—in all its breadth and depth—in courses taught by a faculty that includes one of America’s leading Mormon scholars. In an atmosphere of inquiry that respects all faiths, our master’s and doctoral students pursue original research while enrolled in such degree programs as the History of Christianity and Religions of North America.
Track of Study
Zoroastrian Studies
Supported by our robust Zoroastrian Studies Council, the School of Religion established programming in Zoroastrian Studies so that master’s and doctoral students could explore the religion’s historical influence, impact, and customs. Courses examine the cosmology, eschatology, ethics, and rituals of this oldest of prophetic religions, as well as its relationship with other religions and philosophies.

Faculty & Research

Nicola Denzey Lewis profile image

Nicola Denzey Lewis

Professor of Religion
Margo L. Goldsmith Chair in Women’s Studies in Religion

Research Interests

Social and Intellectual History of the Roman Empire, Gnosticism, Women’s Studies, Religion in the Roman Empire and Late Roman Empire, Late Antiquity

Ruqayya Y. Khan profile image

Ruqayya Y. Khan

Professor of Religion
Malas Chair of Islamic Studies

Research Interests

The Qur'an, Arabic literatures, progressive Islamic theologies, women in Islam, Islam and environmental ethics, Islam and the digital age, late antiquity and Islam, origins of Islam, cultures of Umayyad Damascus and Abbasid Baghdad

Daniel Ramírez profile image

Daniel Ramírez

Associate Professor of Religion

Research Interests

American religious history; Latin American religious history; Religion, migration, and transnationalism; Religion in borderlands; Contemporary theories of religion

Tammi J. Schneider profile image

Tammi J. Schneider

Danforth Professor of Religion
Chair, Religion Department

Research Interests

Ancient Near Eastern history, literature, archaeology, and religion;
Women in the Hebrew Bible

Sallama Shaker profile image

Sallama Shaker

Senior Fellow of Middle East & International Studies

Research Interests

Power Politics, Religion, and Culture in the Middle East; Feminization of Poverty and Global Challenges; Globalization


Extended Faculty

Ahmed Alwishah

Pitzer College

Research Interests

Islamic philosophy, Medieval philosophy, Philosophy of religion, Islamic theology

Myriam Chancy

Scripps College

Research Interests

African diaspora with specialization in its literature

Stephen T. Davis

Claremont McKenna College

Research Interests

Analytic theology, Christian thought, Metaphysics, Philosophy of religion

Lara Deeb

Scripps College

Research Interests

Politics of knowledge production, Gender and sexuality, Islam, Transnational feminism, The Middle East, especially Lebanon

Erika Dyson

Harvey Mudd College

Research Interests

Activism and religion, American religious history, Church and state, Occult religions, Religion and science

Oona Eisenstadt

Pomona College

Research Interests

Judaism and political theory

Gastón Espinosa

Claremont McKenna College

Research Interests

American religion & politics; Latino religions; Latino religions & politics; Pentecostal, charismatic, & liberation movements; Religion and the American presidency; Religion in the United States

Gary Gilbert

Claremont McKenna College

Research Interests

Bible, Christian-Jewish relations, Israel, Jesus, Jewish/Christian relations, Judaism, New Testament

Philip Zuckerman

Pitzer College

Research Interests

Secularity, Atheism, Apostasy, and Scandinavian culture

Where You Can Find Our Alumni

Interdisciplinary Concentrations

As a student in the School of Arts & Humanities, you have the option of completing one of five interdisciplinary concentrations.

American Studies

The American Studies concentration takes a multidisciplinary approach to the study of United States culture, society, civilization, and identity through the curricular lenses of history, literature, critical theory, and more.

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Early Modern Studies

The Early Modern Studies concentration undertakes interdisciplinary examination of history, culture, politics, and society within the transitional and transformative period that stretched between Medieval and modern societies, marked especially by the advent of print, Christian confessional war, and the rise of the modern state.

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Hemispheric & Transnational Studies

A comparative analysis of culture in the Americas, the concentration in Hemispheric & Transnational Studies explores how scholarship on the Atlantic, borderlands, and diaspora have reshaped U.S. American Studies, Caribbean Studies, and Latin American Studies, emphasizing the topics of empire, race, religion, and revolution.

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Media Studies

Situated at the bustling intersection of cultural studies, new media, critical theory, and popular culture, the burgeoning field of Media Studies examines the creative and critical practices of media consumers, producers, artists, and scholars, focusing on questions of representation, power, technology, politics, and economy.

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Museum Studies

The Museum Studies concentration investigates the history and political role of museums in society, the interpretation and display of a wide variety of cultural productions, and topics of special concern to museums as cultural organizations, using a multidisciplinary, practice-based approach to understand the historical development of this evolving field.

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These concentrations are available for students pursuing the following degree programs:

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Frank Frias

Director of Admissions
T: 909-607-3240