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DU/Iliff Joint PhD Program in the Study of Religion

Current Students

Program Requirements

For students who entered the program prior to fall 2015


Common Requirements

  • 90 quarter credit hours, of which 82 are normally courses and 8 are dissertation.

3 of these courses (12 quarter hours) are required of all students:

- RLGN / THEO 6001 Theory & Method in Religion
- RLGN / THEO 6002 Pedagogy & Teaching Religion 
- RLGN / THEO 6003 Dissertation Proposal Seminar


  • One modern language (typically French, German or Spanish) relevant to scholarship in the student’s focus area.

To complete this requirement, students take a reading comprehension and translation exam at a level equivalent to two years of college language. Any courses taken to meet this requirement will not count toward the 90 credits needed for the PhD degree and are not covered by program awarded financial aid. Contact the Center for World Languages and Cultures for independent-learning language software and to schedule an exam.

  • Advancement to Degree Candidacy occurs after completion of coursework, all comp exams, all required languages and successful public defense of the dissertation proposal.


Application for Graduation must be completed by the scheduled deadline for the desired graduation date. The degree in Religious and Theological Studies, or the degree in Religion (depending on year of admission to the program), will be granted jointly by the University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology, bearing the seals and signatures of both institutions. The student’s name is placed in Commencement programs and student may participate in ceremonies of both institutions.

Additional Requirements For Students who entered the program prior to fall 2015.

Students who entered into the program prior to fall 2015 and opt to stay with their original concentration are required to complete the following requirements.  Please see your specific concentration for any possible additional requirements particular to your concentration.

  • Three Comprehensive/Competency Exams based on bibliographies and classes negotiated between student and dissertation advisor
  • Written Dissertation. At least 4 and no more than 8 quarter credits must be taken for dissertation credit. Oral defense of the dissertation must occur no later than three weeks prior to the date of graduation.

Additional Requirements For students who entered the program fall 2015 and after.

The Joint PhD Program in the Study of Religion orients itself conceptually around three "spheres of inquiry:" Lived Religion; Conceptual Approaches to Religion; and Religion in Text, Image and Artifact. As scholarly work is often intellectually multifaceted, and scholarly endeavors shift over time, students and faculty are not permanently assigned to one of these spheres, although there may be a tendency to gravitate to one sphere more than the others.

Colloquia will be offered for each of the spheres once per year.  Students are required to take at least one colloquium within each sphere during their coursework, regardless of their specialization.  Colloquia vary in theme depending on the faculty responsible for organizing and leading a certain colloquium.

  • 3 Colloquia (12 Hours)
Each student must take at least one colloquium in each area. One is offered each quarter; topics vary; and additional colloquia may be taken as electives.
- RLGN 5010 Lived Religion Colloquium
- RLGN 5020 Conceptual Approaches to Religion Colloquium

- RLGN 5030 Text, Image, and Artifact

  • 4 Comprehensive Review Classes and Exams (16 Hours)
- RLGN 6010 Comprehensive Review I: Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion
- RLGN 6020 Comprehensive Review II:  Area Theories and Methods
- RLGN 6030 Comprehensive Review III:  Knowledge in a Professional Field

- RLGN 6040 Comprehensive Review IV:  Knowledge in Minor Areas or Subfields

  • Written Dissertation

8 quarter hours of RLGN 6995 dissertation research must be completed, taking at least one hour per quarter after completion of the dissertation proposal seminar. If the student continues working on the degree after 8 hours of dissertation research (for a total of 90 credit hours) has been completed the student must register and pay for each additional credit each year in the fall term until the degree is completed.