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

The Department of Religious Studies has three graduate fields of study (Asian, Biblical, and Western) in which research is conducted on 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 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 the same.


Application Deadline: To ensure full consideration, applications should be submitted by December 15, 2020

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 40 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

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

MA Thesis titles and supervisors

Our MA graduates have had tremendous success in getting into top-tier PhD programs and in pursuing non-academic careers.

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 the minimum guaranteed funding for doctoral students at $20,500 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 to be a graduate student at McMaster than our recent graduates. 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:

photo of Mark Rowe

Mark Rowe

Associate Professor | Chair of Graduate Affairs Committee, Religious Studies