|Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Religious Studies|
The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Religious Studies is an advanced research degree leading to a dissertation. Research and writing skills are developed to the level necessary to participate in professional academic discourse. A doctoral degree is awarded on the basis of evidence that the recipient possesses knowledge of a broad field of learning and expert mastery of a particular area of concentration within that field.
UWest offers two concentrations in its doctoral program. First, doctoral students may specialize in Buddhist Studies. This is for advanced research in the comparative study of Buddhism in relation to another religion, or the intensive study of an aspect of Buddhism, leading to a dissertation. Second, a doctoral student may choose Comparative Religions. This is for advanced research in the comparative study of religions.
|Knowledge||Students summarize and explain different facets of religion and religious life.
Students demonstrate a working knowledge of research languages.
|Praxis||Students apply the tools and theories used in the academic study of religion.|
|Ethics||Students identify ethical issues raised by religion|
|Critical Thinking||Students think critically about specific religious traditions and about the academic study of religion, in general.
Students develop their own critical perspective and engage in sustained analysis about specific religious traditions and about issues in the field of religious studies.
|Communication||Students engage in scholarly writing and presentation|
Students are prepared to engage in an ongoing process of self-understanding that enables them to lead happy, purposeful lives characterized by healthy relationships to self and others.
|Character||Students critically relate religious teachings to their own self-exploration and character development.|
Students recognize the diversity and dignity of all human beings and understand their own role in the pursuit of social justice.
|Pluralism||Students acknowledge the value of religious diversity.|
|Liberation from Suffering||Students critically relate religious teachings to issues of suffering.|
Students possess a holistic understanding of global interdependence in order to cultivate compassionate thought, speech, and action in service to themselves, others, and the environment.
|Culture||Students critically evaluate the role of religion in human culture and society.|
|Research Training (REL 698A, 698B, 710)||12|
|Primary Research/Canonical Language||12|
|Secondary Research Language||6|
Core Courses (9 units): All students complete three core courses during the first two semesters. Students must earn a minimum grade of B in all core courses. Students who do not earn B may repeat that course one time only to achieve a passing grade.
|REL 600 History & Theory of the Study of Religion||3|
|REL 601 Seminar: Historical & Textual Methodologies||3|
|REL 607 Research Methods||3|
Electives (42 units): All students select an additional 42 units of courses in consultation with their advisor. Students with a concentration in Buddhist Studies take 30 units of coursework in Buddhist Studies and 12 units of coursework in Comparative Religions. Students with a concentration in Comparative Religions take 30 units of coursework in Comparative Religions and 12 units of coursework in Buddhist Studies.
Students must earn a minimum grade of C in each elective course applied to graduation. Students who do not earn a C may repeat that course one time only to achieve a passing grade.
Concentration Coursework: Buddhist Studies
|REL 505 Women in Buddhism||3 units|
|REL 521 Buddhist Meditation Practicum||3 units|
|REL 530 Topics in Buddhist Meditation||3 units|
|REL 540 Buddhist Hermeneutics||3 units|
|REL 545 Sacred Time & Sacred Space in the History of Religions||3 units|
|MBA/REL 582 Humanistic Buddhism & Management||3 units|
|REL 627 Buddhism & Ritual||3 units|
|REL 630 Seminar: Buddhist Texts in Canonical Languages||3 units|
|REL 636 Seminar: Buddhist Texts in Translation||3 units|
|REL 639 Topics in the Study of Religion||3 units|
|REL 640 Topics in Buddhist Studies||3 units|
|REL 645 Seminar: Regional Buddhist Traditions||3 units|
|REL 653 Vajrayana Buddhism||3 units|
|REL 655 Perspectives in the Study of Chan/Zen Buddhism||3 units|
|REL 657 Humanistic Buddhism & Current Issues||3 units|
|REL 659 Buddhism in the US||3 units|
|REL 670 Spread of Buddhism to Central Asia & China||3 units|
Concentration Coursework: Comparative Religious Studies
|REL 515 Religions of China||3 units|
|REL 520 Religions of India||3 units|
|REL 545 Sacred Time & Sacred Space in the History of Religions||3 units|
|REL 590 Comparative Study of Religion||3 units|
|REL 592 Myth & Mythology||3 units|
|REL 603 Seminar: Philosophy of Religion||3 units|
|REL 610 Seminar: Religion & Ethics||3 units|
|REL 640 Topics in Comparative Religion*||3 units|
|REL 660 Seminar: Buddhist-Christian Dialogue||3 units|
*Topics announced each semester. A student may take these courses for credit more than one time with the approval of the instructor and the department chair.
Research Training (12 units): After successful advancement to candidacy, students complete a total of 12 units in advanced graduate-level research and writing.
|REL 698A Dissertation Proposal Seminar||3 units|
|REL 698B Dissertation Writing Seminar||3 units|
|REL 710 Dissertation Research||3 units|
Languages: Students must earn 12 units in a primary language and 6 units in a secondary language. Students with a concentration in Buddhism must acquire intermediate working knowledge in a Buddhist classical language (e.g. Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan) as their primary language requirement. This coursework is required, but is not degree applicable, and may be waived based on a student’s prior experience, education, and/or proficiency.
Qualifying Examinations: Students are required to petition to take the qualifying examinations when they have completed a minimum of 51 units of doctoral coursework and have fulfilled the language requirements. The qualifying examinations cover three subject fields to be determined individually between the student and members of the doctoral committee. Students are encouraged to take REL 705 (Qualifying Examination Preparation) during the semester they are preparing and planning to take their examinations. Qualifying examinations must be completed within one semester following the completion of 51 units of coursework.
The qualifying examinations are written. Students are expected to consult with their committee members to prepare reading lists that will serve as the basis for each of the three field examinations. The examinations take place over a two-week period and must be taken on campus. Each examination takes three hours, and students are not allowed to consult books, notes, or the Internet during the examination. Qualifying examinations are graded pass, fail, or pass with distinction. If a student fails an examination, the doctoral committee will decide if and when it may be repeated. Additional work may be required before the student is eligible to retake an examination.
Additional guidelines and details regarding the qualifying examinations can be found in the Religious Studies Graduate Student Handbook.
Advancement to Candidacy (Dissertation): A student advances to candidacy status upon successful completion of the qualifying examinations and payment of the candidacy fee. Candidacy status lapses automatically if the student loses graduate standing by academic disqualification or failure to comply with university policy on continuous enrollment. A readmitted student who was a candidate must again advance to candidacy and thereafter enroll as a candidate for at least one academic semester before the degree may be conferred. Readmission after a break in enrollment is not guaranteed. Continuous enrollment is required through all stages of the dissertation process, beginning with advancement to candidacy and ending at the close of the term during which the dissertation is accepted by the library.
Research Training (Dissertation): Upon advancing to candidacy, the candidate enters the dissertation phase and is eligible to undertake advanced graduate-level research and writing. While engaged in the dissertation process, PhD students are required to register for REL 698A, 698B, 710, or a combination of these courses for a total of 12 units.
- Stage 1: Preparing the Proposal and Research Training
Candidates undertake advanced graduate-level research and writing, completing a total of 12 units in REL 698A, 698B, 710, or a combination of these courses.
During this stage, candidates begin work on the dissertation proposal under the supervision of their doctoral committee, outlining their intended dissertation project. The dissertation project must be an original piece of research based on primary sources that makes a relevant contribution to the student’s field of study. The proposal is reviewed by the doctoral committee, after which students attend the proposal defense to present their proposal and respond to the questions of the committee. During the proposal defense, the committee decides whether the proposal is accepted, accepted with revisions, or rejected. Candidates are expected to submit the dissertation proposal during the semester immediately following their advancement to candidacy.
- Stage 2: Dissertation Writing and Defense
Candidates prepare the dissertation after passing the proposal defense. The doctoral committee provides feedback throughout the dissertation writing stage, approves the dissertation, and conducts the dissertation defense, a final oral examination. Ordinarily, students defend the dissertation just prior to its completion. Students must be in residence when defending. The defense must be scheduled during a regular academic session (fall or spring semester) and is open to all members of the academic community.
- Stage 3: Dissertation Submission
After passing the dissertation defense, the candidate makes all necessary revisions and submits at least two (2) copies to the library in accordance with the library’s formatting and binding guidelines. The revised dissertation must be submitted to the library no later than one semester after passing the defense. During this semester, the candidate must maintain continuous enrollment by enrolling in REL 715.
Graduate Portfolio: In addition to these requirements, students must submit a portfolio of their work to the department for assessment and review. (Portfolio guidelines are found in the Religious Studies Graduate Student Handbook.)
Important guidelines and procedures regarding the composition of the doctoral committee, dissertation proposal, dissertation defense, and final submission of the dissertation can be found in the Religious Studies Graduate Student Handbook.
A minimum of 63 post-baccalaureate semester units in graduate courses as specified for each candidate by the doctoral committee appointed by the department chair or graduate advisor;
Fulfillment of the language requirements;
A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0;
A Pass in the qualifying examination, taken when the student has completed a minimum of 51 units of doctoral coursework;
Submission to the library of a research dissertation demonstrating critical judgment, intellectual synthesis, creativity, and skill in written communication.
Minimum Grade Requirement: Students must earn a minimum grade of B in all core courses and a minimum grade of C or P in elective courses. Students who do not earn a passing grade as specified may repeat that course one time only to achieve a passing grade.
Students may apply no more than 6 units (two courses) of Directed Reading & Research and 6 units (two courses) of independent study towards graduation. Students are allowed no more than 12 units of unfinished coursework (i.e. incompletes and withdrawals) over the duration of the program.
Transfer of Credit from Other Institutions: Students may be granted a maximum of 30 units of transfer credit for applicable graduate-level coursework towards the 51-unit course requirement. Courses with a B (3.0) or higher are eligible for consideration. Applicability is determined by the department chair or advisor.
Application of Credit from Prior UWest Enrollments: Students may apply toward the 51-unit course requirement a maximum of 36 units of graduate coursework completed at UWest in a master’s level program or under open enrollment. Courses with a B (3.0) or higher are eligible for consideration. Applicability is determined by the department chair or advisor.
All coursework must be at the graduate level; graduate courses previously applied to a bachelor’s degree cannot be applied to graduation.
Continuous Enrollment: After finishing all coursework students must maintain continuous enrollment through the term during which the dissertation is accepted by the library. Continuous enrollment is maintained by enrolling in research courses REL 698A, REL 698B, or REL 710 and upon completion of the 12-unit research requirement, REL 715. Failure to register and pay the associated tuition and fees may interfere with residence requirements and lead to lapse of candidacy status.
Degrees are awarded at the close of the semester in which all requirements have been fulfilled, the dissertation has successfully been submitted to and accepted by the library (if applicable), the Petition to Graduate form has been filed with the Registrar’s office, and the graduation fee has been paid.
Time to Degree Standards
Doctoral students are expected to advance to candidacy within four years from their original start date, and to complete all degree requirements, including publication of the final dissertation, within seven years from their original start date. The
maximum time to degree allowed after all approved extensions is ten years from the original start date. The maximum time to degree will be adjusted for students entering with transfer credit.
Students are evaluated annually for time-to-degree progress. If the established time to degree standard is reached and the student has not completed a required milestone, such as qualifying exam, advancement to candidacy, dissertation proposal, or dissertation defense, the student is placed on departmental monitoring for a period of one additional term. If at the end of this term adequate progress has not been achieved toward the milestone, the student is placed on academic probation for one additional term.
A student may be dismissed upon recommendation of the department and with the Chief Academic Officer’s approval if adequate progress is not observed during the probation period. If dismissed prior to advancement to candidacy, the dismissal is permanent.
If dismissed after advancement to candidacy, the student may petition for reinstatement under the following condition only:
Student submits with the petition an acceptable first draft of the dissertation that clearly demonstrates it is reasonable to expect that the student may defend and publish the final dissertation no later than ten years from the original start date in the program.
If reinstatement is granted, the student must retroactively pay continuous enrollment tuition at a rate of one unit of tuition per term for each fall and spring term that has elapsed since the last term of enrollment. Tuition will be charged at the rate in effect at the time of reinstatement.
Reinstated students who fail to publish the final dissertation within ten years of the original start date are permanently dismissed.