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McMaster University has been a leading centre for the scholarly study of religion for more than 50 years

The Department has three graduate fields of study (Asian, Biblical and Western) and research is conducted in a range of topics and traditions, time periods and cultures, employing a wide variety of approaches: textual, ethnographic, historical, philosophical, theological, philological. While the faculty and areas of research expertise have changed somewhat over the years, the Department’s commitment to the open, critical, and multidisciplinary study of religion—past and present, East and West, theoretical and practical—remains passionate and strong.

Application Deadline is December 15, 2016

The Department of Religious Studies offers graduate work in seven study areas, in three fields

Asian Field

  • Buddhism
  • East Asian Religions

Biblical Field

  • Early Judaism
  • Early Christianity

Western Field

  • Religion and Politics
  • Religion and the Social Sciences
  • Western Religious Thought

Fields of Study

There are currently about 50 graduate students enrolled in the department, and 14 professors active in graduate supervision.

Of the more than 40 students who have received the PhD since 1996, approximately 60% have moved on to hold full-time academic positions, and another 20% to part-time teaching.

Graduate Study Resources

PhD dissertation titles, and supervisors

PhD dissertation titles, and supervisors

See a chronology of our program's PhD graduates, dissertation titles, and supervisors.

Study at one of Canada's leading research universities


Financial support from the university is available to full-time students on a competitive basis. The "Plan for Graduate Education at McMaster" sets a minimum guaranteed funding for doctoral students (currently $17,500 a year for four years). In addition McMaster's Department of Religious Studies offers numerous scholarships, teaching assistantships, external awards, travel scholarships and bursaries.

Funding Opportunities

Graduate Student Life

Life in the department, on campus, in the city

When we think of graduate school, we think of seminars, conducting research, sitting for exams, and writing a thesis or dissertation. Scholarly activities are only part of the total experience of being a grad student. See what McMaster University and the City of Hamilton have to offer.

Graduate Student Life

Student Profiles

No one can tell you more about what it’s like at McMaster University in Hamilton, than the people who matter most to us—our students. Read what they have to say about their experience in the Religious Studies Department at McMaster and see where their education has taken them.

Student Profiles

For Graduate Program Inquiries:

Peter Widdicombe

Associate Professor | Chair of Graduate Affairs, Religious Studies