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DU/Iliff Joint PhD Program in the Study of Religion

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The Joint Doctoral Program

The Joint Doctoral Program in the Study of Religion (JDP), housed at the University of Denver and the Iliff School of Theology, has been developing leaders in the field of religion for over thirty years. The program offers students a rich and rigorous, yet flexible and interdisciplinary, environment for academic conversation and study. Students in the JDP benefit from a strong sense of community. Our students participate in a range of colloquia, workshops and symposia that promote innovative and relevant scholarship. The JDP prepares students for careers in academia, religious communities, governmental organizations, counseling centers, and a variety of other vocational venues. Through close peer and faculty relationships and support, students develop their professional identities within the academic study of religion.

Across various specializations, JDP faculty are committed to educating all our students in the critical study of religion and to helping them develop the ability to understand their areas of specialization as a part of the larger discipline. The curriculum of the JDP seeks to prepare students to understand and participate in conversations about key ideas, themes, theories, questions, problems, and the trends in the study of religion, including trends within professional organizations such as the American Academy of Religion.


The academic program utilizes lenses for study and research called spheres of inquiry. 

  • Lived Religion (persons and communities)
  • Conceptual Approaches to Religion (issues, concepts, and social and cultural phenomena)
  • Religion in Text, Image, and Artifact

The spheres are not discrete tracks of study but are intended to create spaces for conversation among faculty and students who have different areas of specialization. Each year, three colloquia will be offered, one for each sphere, focusing on a different theme. One faculty member will serve as moderator, but several faculty will participate as determined by their research interests. During their course work, students must take one colloquium in each sphere, though they may take more than one if they choose, since the themes will vary year to year.