Islamic studies in Graduate Programs of Religious Studies

(courtesy of Carl Ernst's webpage, at: )

The following table is a brief summary of options for pursuing Islamic studies in graduate programs of Religious Studies in North American universities. This list is based on the member institutions in the Council for Graduate Study in Religion, a consortium of 34 universities offering the PhD degree in Religious Studies (this group includes public and private universities, plus divinity schools and seminaries that offer an academic PhD). This list does not include area studies programs based in departments of Near Eastern or Middle Eastern area studies. There is certainly no uniformity in the way Religious Studies departments structure their programs, or in the way that they conceive of Islamic studies (barely half of these universities include Islamic studies in their graduate curricula). For full details, it is necessary to go to each department to determine the nature of the program, the interests of relevant faculty, and the extent to which these programs can call upon the resources of related area studies programs. The program descriptions here are taken from publicly available sources; please communicate any corrections or suggestions to

Boston University Brown University Claremont Graduate University*
Columbia University Drew University* Duke University
Emory University Fordham University* Graduate Theological Union*
Harvard University Hebrew Union College* Indiana University
Jewish Theological Seminary of America* McGill University McMaster University*
Northwestern University Princeton Theological Seminary* Princeton University
Southern Methodist University* Stanford University* Syracuse University
Temple University Union Theological Seminary* University of California, Santa Barbara
University of Chicago* University of Iowa University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of Notre Dame* University of Pennsylvania University of Toronto
University of Virginia University of Southern California* Vanderbilt University*
Yale University     

*Indicates universities with no current program or faculty members in Islamic studies

Related Links:
Directory of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs in Middle East Studies, from the Middle East Studies Association
Directory of Departments and Programs of Religious Studies, from the Council of Societies for the Study of Religion (using the "Search Expanded Listings" feature with the keyword "Islam" yields about 125 out of 1600 accredited academic departments of Religious Studies claiming some faculty expertise in this field)
Selected Academic Programs and Institutions of Islamic Studies, from the U.S. State Department (actually a list of Middle East studies programs)
Current Academic Job Openings in Islamic Studies, from the web site of Prof. Omid Safi, Colgate University

Boston University; Boston, MA: 

The Division of Religious and Theological Studies of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Degrees offered: Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy

Areas of Specialization: Entering graduate students may choose among twelve fields of concentration in three main subject areas, each of which is cross-cultural and multi-disciplinary.

· Religious Texts and Traditions: Judaic Studies; New Testament and Christian Origins; History of Christianity; Islamic Studies. 

· Religion, Philosophy, and Ethics: Philosophy of Religion; Science, Philosophy, and Religion; Theology; Social Ethics.

· Religion, Culture and Society: Religion and Society; Religion and Literature; Psychology of Religion; Counseling Psychology and Religion.

Specialization in Islamic Studies:

Description: The concentration in Islamic Studies is flexible and may be configured according to the student's interests and professional goals. The focus is on the religious, literary, and intellectual history of Islam, with emphasis on both the medieval and the modern periods. Students entering the program should have a broad range of courses in one or more of these fields: history of religion, Islamic history, late antique background of Islam, medieval studies, and an Islamic language (Arabic, Persian, or Turkish) and its literature.

Faculty Relevant to Islamic Studies: Thomas Barfield, Anthropology; Irene Gendzier, Political Science; Thomas Glick, History; Shahla Haeri, Anthropology; Robert Hefner, Anthropology; Frank Korom, Religion; Charles Lindholm, University Professor; Herbert Mason, University Professor; Augustus Norton, Anthropology.

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Brown University, Providence, RI:

The Department of Religious Studies in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Degrees Offered: AM, PhD

Areas of Specialization: 

· Early Christianity: Christianity in the early empire including New Testament studies and Christianity in late antiquity. 

· Ancient Judaism: Ancient Israel, Second Temple period, 70 to 500 CE. 

· Contemporary Religious Thought: Philosophy of religion, issues in theology, religious ethics, including comparative and normative inquiry.

Faculty Relevant To Islamic Studies: Muhammad Qasim Zaman

Additional Information of Interest: Additional graduate courses are available in the other departments including Africana studies, classics, Egyptology, History, Modern Culture and Media, Old World Archaeology and Art, Philosophy, Political Science, and Women's Studies. Qualified students may enter a program leading simultaneously to the PhD in religious studies (contemporary religious thought) and philosophy. Students in this program must meet the degree requirements of both departments.

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Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA:

School of Religion

Degrees Offered: MA, PhD

Areas of Specialization: 

Hebrew Bible; 
New Testament; 

History of Christianity and Religions in North America; 
Philosophy of Religion and Theology; 
Theology, Ethics, and Culture; 
Women’s Studies in Religion.

Faculty Relevant To Islamic Studies: None at present in the School of Religion. 

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Columbia University; New York, NY:

The graduate program in religion is a cooperative program between the Departments of Religion at Columbia University and Barnard College and Union Theological Seminary.

Degrees offered: MA, M.Phil., PhD

Program In Religion

Description: It is designed for the study of the history, literature, theory, and functions of religion in its various forms within different societies and cultures. A distinctive feature of this program is the opportunity for students not only to gain advanced training in specific fields of religious studies, but also to acquire a basic knowledge of the world's major religious traditions and of the principal methods and theories employed in the study of religion. Such knowledge is useful as preparation for teaching courses of broad scope and as a background for the study of more limited areas.

Areas of Specialization: 

Chinese and Japanese Religions
Early Christianity
Hebrew Bible
History of Christianity
History of Religions in North America
History of Religions in Late Antiquity
Philosophy of Religion 
Religions of South Asia 
Sociology of Religion

Specialization in Islam

Description:Once the requisite courses and language study have been completed (Arabic, and Persian, Urdu or Turkish; French and German or another ancient or modern language appropriate to the candidate's specialization), the candidate prepares an extensive bibliography covering basic issues in the study of Islamic Religion beginning with pre-Islamic Arabia and working up through the late medieval and/or modern periods. Topics that must be covered include Muhammad, the Qur'an, Hadith, Islamic Law, Philosophical Theology, Sufism and Islamic Modernism/Revivalism. In addition to these general topics, the bibliography should focus on the general area of interest of the candidate, e.g., Medieval Islam, the Umayyad Period, etc. This preparation is the basis of the First Field Exam. The student then begins preliminary dissertation research and designs a dissertation proposal. The student is asked to prepare a bibliography that deals more generally with the area of his or her research. Working closely with the advisor, preferably in a guided reading and research course, the candidate prepares a lengthy paper on a mutually agreed upon topic. The paper serves as a first step in dissertation research. The paper is evaluated by the individual's advisor and another member of the faculty. The candidate should consult with the advisor and second reader after the paper is evaluated. This is the research and preparation for the Second Field Exam. The candidate should then begin the preparation of a more detailed outline of the overall research project, viz., a dissertation proposal.

Faculty Relevant To Islamic Studies: 

Peter Awn, Courtney Bender, Neguin Yavari

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Drew University; Madison, NJ: 

Program in Theological and Religious Studies 

Degrees offered: MA, PhD

Description: Students who are either Jewish or Christian in their orientation may work along with others who identify themselves in different ways. The development of interdisciplinary and multicultural consciousness is encouraged. A tacit pluralism underlies common faculty and student participation in the life of an area whose members represent well-diversified points of view.

Areas of Specialization:


·Biblical Studies

·Liturgical Studies

·Religion & Society

·Theological & Religious Studies

·Wesleyan & Methodist Studies


·American Religion and Culture

·Historical Studies

·Systematic Theology

·Constructive Theology

·Philosophical Theology

·Philosophy of Religion


·Feminist Theology

·Liberation Theology

·Theological Theology

·Pluralistic Studies

·Theology and Nature

Faculty Relevant To Islamic Studies: None at present in Theological and Religious Studies.

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Duke University; Durham, NC: 

The Graduate Program in Religion

Degrees Offered: A.M., Ph.D., JD/MA (Note: Applicants interested in the JD/MA will make application to the Law School rather than to the Graduate School.)

Areas of Specialization: 

·Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

·New Testament

·Ancient, European and American Christianity

·Judaic Studies

· Islamic Studies (see also brochure on joint Duke-UNC program in Islamic Studies)

·Christian Theology

·Religion in Modernity (including non-Western traditions)

Specialization in Islamic Studies
The Ph.D. program in Islamic Studies at Duke covers the study of Islam as a religious and intellectual tradition as well as the study of Muslim societies past and present.. Rigorous emphasis on the humanities and social sciences requires students to explore the classical Islamic sciences at the same time that they examine the cultural and historical expression of Islamicate civilization in its various historical phases. Areas of strength include: history (medieval, modern and postmodern; intellectual, cultural and social) and Islamic thought (also medieval, modern and postmodern; legal, philosophical and theological), with special attention to law and society, Qur'anic studies, hermeneutics & text criticism, mysticism, human rights, and gender studies.

Faculty Relevant To Islamic Studies: 
Bruce B. Lawrence (Ph.D., Yale), Nancy and Jeffrey Marcus Professor of Religion (history of religion, religions of India).
Ebrahim Moosa (Ph.D., University of Cape Town), Associate Research Professor of Religion (Islamic law, ethics, theology, and critical theory).

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Emory University; Atlanta, GA:

The Graduate Division of Religion

Degrees Offered: Ph.D. 

Areas of Specialization: 

·American Religious Cultures

·Comparative Literature and Religion

·Ethics and Society

·Hebrew Bible

·Historical Studies in Theology and Religion

·New Testament

·Person, Community, and Religious Practices

·Theological Studies

· West and South Asian Religions

Specialization in Islamic Studies

Description: The Program in West and South Asian Religions offers seminars and dissertation supervision in religious traditions of this region (principally Islamic, Hindu, and early Buddhist). The program studies these religions in terms of their texts, practices, systems of thought and values, institutions, and symbolic formations.  Preparation is offered in each of these religious traditions, along with their relations to others (e.g., Islamic-Jewish, Hindu-Christian, Islamic-Hindu). General issues in the interpretation of religion as an orientation to foundational understandings and values regarding human meaning are enhanced by being explored in relation to the religious formations of this region. Seminars are offered in the history, literatures, ethnographies, practices, legal traditions, diaspora and trans-national traditions and practices, religious thought, and interrelations with other traditions. In addition to the modern language requirement of the Graduate Division of Religion, students are required to demonstrate advanced research proficiency in one West or South Asian language. Emory offers introductory to advanced levels of instruction in the following languages: Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, Hindi, and Hebrew. Significant library holdings in West and South Asian religions are housed in Woodruff Library. The Pitts Theology Library also has extensive holdings related to West and South Asian religions, especially in the area of history of Christian missions. Considerable acquisitions are being pursued via electronic formats. Emory and Atlanta offer wide resources in support of the program. The Law and Religion Program of Emory Law School offers seminars and occasional major international symposia in the interrelations among law, religion, and religious human rights, including attention to Islamic ethics, law, and politics. The Atlanta metropolitan area offers significant opportunities for the study of West and South Asian religious traditions in their diaspora context in the American South. Emory enjoys cordial relations with many religious communities, which have been most hospitable in welcoming students to observe and study their communities and practices.

Faculty Relevant to Islamic Studies: Richard C. Martin; Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im; Gordon Newby; David S. Pacini; Devin Stewart; Carrie Wickham.

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Fordham University; New York, NY:

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences: Theology

Areas of Specialization:




Faculty Relevant To Islamic Studies: None at present.

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Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA : 

Member Schools of the Graduate Theological Union: American Baptist Seminary of the West; Center for Jewish Studies; Church Divinity School of the Pacific; Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology; Franciscan School of Theology; Institute of Buddhist Studies; Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley; Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary; Pacific School of Religion; San Francisco Theological Seminary; Starr King School for the Ministry; University of California, Berkeley.

Degrees Offered: MA, M.Div., ThD, PhD 

Areas of Specialization:

·Art and Religion

·Biblical Studies

·Buddhist Studies

·Christian Spirituality

·Cultural and Historical Studies of Religions

·Ethics and Social Theory



·Interdisciplinary Studies

·Jewish Studies

·Liturgical Studies

·Near Eastern Religions

·Religion and Psychology

·Systematic and Philosophical Theology

Faculty Relevant To Islamic Studies: None at present.

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Harvard University; Cambridge, MA:

The program in The Study of Religion is sustained by faculty drawn from Arts and Sciences and the Divinity School, with connections as well to faculty in the Kennedy School of Government and the Law School. 
Degrees Offered: MA, PhD

PhD Fields of Study

This degree involves both general and specialized work in the study of religion. At the most general level, every candidate undertakes to develop a synoptic historical understanding of human religiousness at large and a firm grounding in the theories and methodologies in the field of the study of religion. This foundation is to be deepened through a broad grasp of a context of study (see below), which provides the principal framework within which the candidate must develop mastery, at an advanced level, of some specialization in the study of religion.

Context of Study:
As there are substantial faculty and other resources in these areas at Harvard, the following contexts have been recognized for work in the Study of Religion:
TRADITIONS: Buddhist, Christian, Confucian, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish

HISTORICAL COMPLEXES: Greco-Roman or Hellenistic World, The Modern West, East Asia, China, Japan, South Asia
Applicants may propose other traditions or historical complexes, e.g. Inner Asian or African religions, for study. Those interested in Iranian or Ancient Near Eastern religions should consult both the Study of Religion and the department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations to determine how a program might best be shaped.

Note: A Ph.D. in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible is not offered through the Committee on the Study of Religion, but may be pursued within the department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations or through the Th.D. program of the Divinity School.

Special FieldIn addition to locating his or her program within a context of study, a student will focus on an area of specialization. For those students whose contexts of study are the Christian tradition, the Greco-Roman or Hellenistic World historical complex, or the Modern West historical complex, there is a particularly wide range of resources at Harvard Divinity School. At present the special fields (which correspond to certain faculty groups at the Divinity School) pertinent to these contexts of study are:

· New Testament and Christian Origins 

· History of Christianity 

· Theology 

· Ethics 

· Religion and Society 

· Religion, Gender, and Culture

It is important both to the admissions process and in the initial assignment of an adviser that applicants in the Christian tradition, the Modern West, or the Greco-Roman or Hellenistic World, indicate which of the above fields will serve as "home base."

Topical InterestsMore specific topical interests within the special field --such as women's experience, ritual, popular religion, or mysticism -- should also be noted.

Program Options

The Ph.D. program is pursued under any one of three different options:
Option I: ComparativeWhile there is a comparative element in all advanced study of religion, the work under this Option makes it explicit in that the student chooses for comparison two religious traditions (see list above), one to be the major, one the minor. As historical complexes are by nature comparative, they should not be chosen for comparison in an Option I program. Therefore, one could do an Option I program comparing Christianity and Hinduism, but not Christianity and South Asia. Nor could one compare the Modern West and South Asia, for example. In view of the comparative emphasis, a student should select as the major a tradition to which he or she is not personally related by commitment and/or cultural affiliation. The minor tradition chosen will normally be the one to which the candidate is related.

Option II: A Single Tradition or Historical ComplexUnder this option, one of the traditions or historical complexes for which facilities are available at Harvard (see lists above) is chosen as the context of study. The specialization is pursued within that context. Some examples of Option II programs are: Buddhism (context of study)/ethics(specialization); the Modern West (context of study)/Theology(specialization); Hinduism(context of study)/the medieval period (specialization).

Option III: Religion and an Allied FieldUnder this Option the student chooses a context of study in religion, which is then allied to the study of another discipline, normally another department in the faculty of Arts and Sciences, or even another faculty at Harvard. Some examples of Option III programs are: Religion (the Modern West) and Philosophy; Religion (Islam) and Law; Religion (the Christian Tradition) and Fine Arts. As noted above, students in the contexts of study of the Christian Tradition or Modern West, should specify clearly their special field, e.g. Theology, Ethics, etc.Applicants proposing to work in Option III should consider the faculty and curricular resources of the allied department or Faculty involved and should familiarize themselves with its own doctoral program requirements. So far as possible, they should try to consult in a preliminary way with members of the faculty in question. (Faculty and staff connected with the Committee on the Study of Religion may be able to facilitate such contacts.)
Faculty Relevant to Islamic Studies: 

William A. Graham, Professor of the History of Religion and Islamic Studies

Leila Ahmed, Professor of Divinity

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Hebrew Union College; Cincinnati, OH:

The School of Graduate Studies

Degrees Offered: MA, M.Phil., PhD, Ordination-PhD, D.H.L.

Areas of Specialization:

·Bible and Ancient Near East

·History of Biblical Interpretation

·Jewish Studies in the Greco-Roman Period


·Philosophy and Jewish Religious Thought

·Modern Jewish History

Note On Hebrew Study: The College-Institute affirms the principle that knowledge of Hebrew is the cornerstone of Judaic learning. Proficiency in the Hebrew language, therefore, is required in all fields of study and a basic knowledge of Hebrew is a prerequisite for admission to the School. Newly admitted students take a brief oral examination prior to their initial registration. The purpose of this examination is to determine whether new students may be admitted immediately to full-time residency, or if they need to take all or part of an intensive pre-residency Hebrew program to prepare themselves for a full load of regular course work. In most cases, a partial program of regular graduate courses for credit may be taken concurrently by students taking the intensive Hebrew program.

Joint Programs with the University of Cincinnati

· Jewish and Christian Studies in the Greco-Roman Period: HUC-JIR and the Department of Classics at the University of Cincinnati offer a student interested in Jewish and Christian studies of the Greco-Roman world an opportunity to pursue advanced studies in both institutions and to take advantage of their combined resources. The student whose emphasis is in intertestamental Jewish culture or early Christianity may matriculate in the program at HUC-JIR. The student whose interests lie primarily in the Greco-Roman world, but include Judaica or early Christianity, may enroll in the Department of Classics at the University of Cincinnati. Students at either institution, therefore, are encouraged to include in their individual programs relevant courses offered at both institutions.

· Jewish Law and Ethics: The School of Graduate Studies offers Ph.D. and M.A. programs in Jewish Law and Ethics, which include the participation of the University of Cincinnati College of Law. The program features four main areas of study: philosophy and ethics; law; Jewish legal texts; and comparative law and ethics. Students take approximately one quarter of their program at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. At HUC-JIR, they take courses in Talmud, Post-Talmudic Halachic literature, and Jewish ethics. They may enroll in additional courses in ethics and Canon law at Xavier University and at the Atheneum Catholic Seminary. Beyond the academic focus of the program, students are offered the opportunity to take part in a variety of social service and educational projects. 

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Indiana University; Bloomington, IN:

The Department of Religious Studies

Description: The department has established strengths in the areas of religious ethics, North American religions, Chinese religions, South Asian Religions, and Buddhist studies. With some recent appointments we have created new clusters of strength in India Studies, Judaism and Christianity in antiquity and the history of Christianity.

Degrees Offered: MA, PhD

Areas of Specialization: 

critical and ethical studies
cross-cultural studies
biblical studies
historical studies

Faculty Relevant to Islamic Studies:

Jamsheed Choksy [Central Eurasian Studies], Ph.D., Harvard University (1991). Zoroastrianism, ancient and modern; Islamic studies; history of religions. 

Quinton Dixie: Ph.D., Union Theological Seminary (1999). History of African American Christianity, Islam in the African-American Experience, Religion and labor in American Culture.

R. Kevin Jaques, Ph.D., Emory University (2001). Islamic legal history, Islam in Southeast Asia and Indian Ocean communities, Islam in the United States, religious authority in times of social and cultural upheaval, methods and methodologies in the academic study of religion, ethnography.

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Jewish Theological Seminary of America; New York, NY:

The Graduate School 

Degrees Offered: MA, MPhil, DHL and PhD 

Areas of Specialization:

Ancient Judaism
Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages
Hebrew Language
Interdepartmental Studies
Jewish Art and Material Culture
Jewish Education
Jewish History
Jewish Literature
Jewish Philosophy
Jewish Women's Studies
Medieval Jewish Studies
Modern Jewish Studies
Multidisciplinary Studies
Professional and Pastoral Skills
Project Judaica
Social Work/Jewish Studies
Talmud and Rabbinics

Faculty Relevant To Islamic Studies: None at present.

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McGill University; Montreal, Quebec, Canada:

The Institute of Islamic Studies: The Faculty of Arts

Degrees Offered: M.A. and Ph.D. in Islamic Studies, and a Graduate Diploma in Islamic Studies.

Areas of Specialization:

· Islamic languages

· History of various Muslim Empires

· The social institutions of the Islamic world

· Islamic philosophy and thought 

· Modern developments in various regions of the Islamic world

Faculty Relevant to Islamic Studies:

Uner Turgay (Director of the Institute): B.A. (Roberts College. Istanbul), M.A., Ph.D. (Madison-Wisconsin); Areas of Expertise: Ottoman/Turkish History/Language; Modern Developments in Islam; Central Asia

Sajida Alvi: B.A., M.A., Ph.D. (Punj.)

Areas of Expertise: History of Muslim India/Pakistan; Medieval and Modern Iran; Persian and Urdu Languages

Issa J. Boullata (Emeritus): Ph.D. (London)

Areas of Expertise: Arabic Language/Literature; Qur'anic Studies 

Wael Hallaq: B.A. (Haifa), Ph.D. (Wash.)

Areas of Expertise: Islamic Law; Arabic Language 

Michelle Hartman: B.A. (Columbia), Ph.D. (Oxford)

Areas of Expertise: Arabic Language and Literature; Francophone Arabic Literature

Donald Little (Emeritus): B.A. (Vanderbilt), M.A. (Stanford), Ph.D. (Calif.)

Areas of Expertise: Mamluks; Classical/Medieval Islamic History; Arabic Language

Eric Ormsby: B.A. (Penn.), M.A. (Princeton), M.L.S. (Rutgers), Ph.D. (Princeton)

Areas of Expertise: Islamic Philosophy; Islamic Theology

In addition, the Institute attracts a variety of Visiting Professors and Lecturers each year.

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McMaster University; Hamilton, Ontario, Canada:

The Department of Religious Studies

Degees Offered: MA, PhD

Areas of Specialization:

The department offers graduate work in seven areas of study, distributed among three fields:

Asian Field:
Buddhism and East Asian Religions
Hinduism and Jainism
Biblical Field:
Early Judaism
Early Christianity
Western Field:
Religion and Politics
Religion and the Social Sciences
Western Religious Thought
In order that all graduate students have the opportunity to develop both depth and breadth in their courses of study, candidates for M.A. and Ph.D. degrees are normally required to choose one major area of study and one minor area of study from the above list of seven areas.

Faculty Relevant To Islamic Studies: None at present.

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Northwestern University; Evanston, Ill:

Departments of Religion and History: An interdisciplinary Program
Degrees Offered: MA, PhD
Areas of Specialization:

Medieval, early modern, and modern Europe
Islamic Africa
Gender history

Faculty Relevant to Islamic Studies: 

John Hunwick: (PhD University of London, 1974) holds a joint appointment in the Department of Religion and teaches and researches the social and intellectual history of Islamic Africa. He is the author of ShariCa in Songhay, Arabic Literature of Africa II: The Writings of Central Sudanic Africa, and Timbuktu and the Songhay Empire. He has edited Religion and National Integration in Africa, and is a founder-editor of Sudanic Africa: a Journal of Historical Sources. He is former director of the Fontes Historiae Africanae project of the International Academic Union, and has received awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Fulbright Commission. He is a Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Jacob Lassner: (PhD Yale, 1963), medieval Near Eastern History

Sean O’Fahey: (PhD University of London, 1972), history of the Islamic Sudan and Eastern Africa

Carl Petry: (PhD Michigan, 1974), history of the Islamic world and North Africa, medieval and modern Egypt

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Princeton Theological Seminary; Princeton, New Jersey:

Degrees Offered: MA, PhD

Areas of Specialization: 

· Biblical Studies (Old Testament, New Testament) 

· History and Ecumenics (Church History; History of Doctrine; Mission, Ecumenics, and History of Religions) 

· Theology (Systematic Theology, Philosophy and Theology, Christian Ethics, History of Doctrine) 

· Religion and Society 

· Practical Theology (Christian Education, Pastoral Theology, Homiletics) 

Faculty Relevant To Islamic Studies: None at present.

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Princeton University; Princeton, New Jersey: 

Department of Religion

Degrees Offered: PhD (MA awarded after passing the General Examination)

Areas of Specialization:

Asian Religions 

Religions of Late Antiquity

Religion in America

Philosophy of Religion

Religion, Ethics & Politics


Description: This field is devoted to the study of Islamic beliefs and practices within the cultural and historical context of the Middle East. Applicants should have advanced preparation in Arabic. Students in this field may pursue their graduate work in conjunction with the Program in Near Eastern Studies and will make use of the resources provided by the Departments of History, Near Eastern Studies, and Anthropology. 

Faculty Relevant to Islamic Studies: Professor Shaun E. Marmon: Islamic history 

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Southern Methodist University; Dallas, TX:

Department of Religious Studies

Degrees Offered: MA, PhD

Areas of Specialization: 


Philosophy of Religion 
Systematic Theology 
Religious Ethics 
Biblical Studies: Hebrew Bible/Old Testament; NT
History of the Christian Tradition


Philosophical Study of Religion
Historical Study of Religion: Western Traditions 
Historical Study of Religion: Eastern Traditions 
Social-Scientific Study of Religion 

Faculty Relevant To Islamic Studies: None at present.

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Stanford University: Palo Alto, CA: 

Department of Religious Studies 

Degrees Offered: MA, PhD

Areas of Specialization:

· Buddhist Studies

· Christian Studies

· Jewish Studies

· Individually designed fields

Faculty Relevant To Islamic Studies: No permanent faculty at present.

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Syracuse University; Syracuse, NY:


Graduate Program in Religion

Degrees Offered: MA, PhD

Areas of Specialization:

Traditions (African-American, Buddhist, Christian, Graeco-Roman, Hindu, Islamic, Judaic, Mesoamerican, Native American

Geographies (The Americas, Ancient Mediterranean Basin, East Asia, Europe, Middle East, South Asia)

Religion and Culture (Anthropology, Art and Music, Biblical Criticism, Ethics, Gender Studies, Hermeneutics, History, Literature, Myth and Ritual, Psychology, Theology, historical and contemporary, Theology, Philosophy, and Critical Theory)

Faculty Relevant to Islamic Studies: Tazim R. Kassam

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Temple University; Philadelphia, PA:

The Department of Religion 

Degrees Offered: MA, PhD

Areas of Specialization:

· Historical and Textual Origins

· Philosophy of Religion and Religious Thought

· Religion, Culture and Society

Description: Students usually concentrate within one of these Areas, but are expected to develop familiarity with the methods of study in the other Areas. The Department makes available for study a broad spectrum of religious traditions. Instruction is offered in African religions, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Taoism. The intersections of these traditions with the major forces in culture and society are examined, in such subjects as religion and sociology; anthropology; politics; psychology; ethics, and linguistics. The several methods of analysis of the phenomenon of religion are debated, appropriate to historical-textual studies, philosophy of religion, and social and cultural studies.

Faculty Relevant to Islamic Studies: 

Mahmoud Ayoub; Khalid A. Y. Blankinship.
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Union Theological Seminary; New York, NY:

Degrees Offered: MA, PhD

Areas of Specialization:


·                    Biblical Studies 

· Theology and Ethics 

· Church History and History of Christian Thought 

· Psychiatry and Religion 

· Religion and Education 

· Theology and the Arts

· General Field of Religion (with Columbia University)

Description: Columbia University awards the M.A. in the general field of religion upon recommendation of the Committee on Graduate Instruction of the Department of Religion. This Committee, jointly staffed by faculty members of the University and of the Seminary, includes the chairperson of the Department of Religion and a faculty representative from the Seminary. The student must hold a bachelor's degree with a record indicating a capacity for graduate work of high quality. Preparation should include a reading knowledge of French or German along with such additional foundational language study as may be required for work in the proposed area of specialization. There should be extensive work in the liberal arts, including history, literature, and philosophy, as well as in the social sciences if the proposed area of concentration is a social-scientific approach to the study of religion. More than the required year of residence is usually needed to complete the M.A. program. Although study may be terminated with the M.A. for specific vocational purposes or at the discretion of the department, the M.A. in Religion is normally earned in course to the doctor's degree in religion. This is unlike the M.A. under the Seminary faculty, which does not automatically lead to doctoral candidacy.


· Bible (Old and New Testaments, Biblical Studies)

· Church History (including the history of Christian thought)

· Theology (systematic, philosophical, or ecumenical studies) 

· Christian Ethics, and Psychiatry and Religion

· General Field of Religion (with Columbia University)

Description:Students who plan to become college teachers in the field of religion may find it desirable to work toward the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in religion at Columbia University. It requires a considerable knowledge of non-Christian religions, although the student may specialize in the Judaic-Christian tradition. In his or her program of study the student may choose courses in several departments of the university and at the Seminary. This allows a wide choice and an extensive field within which the doctoral candidate may select a subject of special study and prepare a dissertation. 

Graduate work toward the Ph.D. in the field of religion is administered by the Committee on Graduate Instruction of the Department of Religion of Columbia University. This Committee, jointly staffed by faculty members of the University and of the Seminary, includes the chairperson of the Department of Religion and a faculty representative from the Seminary. For the general faculty regulations and fees governing graduate study in the University, the student is referred to The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Bulletin of Columbia University. In addition to the general requirements of the University, the following special requirements are prescribed for applicants undertaking to qualify for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the field of religion. 

Faculty Relevant To Islamic Studies: No faculty at present.

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University of California at Santa Barbara:

Department of Religious Studies

Degrees Offered:M.A./Ph.D.: This program is for students preparing for university teaching and research careers.

Ph.D.: This program is for students transferring to UCSB with a Master's degree or its equivalent and preparing for a career in university teaching and research.

M.A. Plan II: This program is for students wanting to learn more about religion for professional or career development (for example, public school teachers, journalists) not exclusively related to university teaching and research. This Master's degree does not lead to Ph.D. work at UCSB.

Areas of Specialization: The department offers courses in the religious dimensions of eastern, western, and third-world cultures. The implications of modern political movements such as nationalism or Marxism for religious studies are also covered. All programs emphasize a cross-cultural comparative study of religions and use interdisciplinary approaches as appropriate to religious studies, incorporating such disciplines as history, political science, anthropology, sociology, comparative literature, and philosophy. Undergraduate and master's programs provide a general orientation toward religious studies, while the doctoral program offers specialized training leading to professions in teaching and research.

Faculty Relevant to Islamic Studies: 

· Juan E. Campo

· Dwight F.Reynolds

· Magda Campo

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University of Chicago; Chicago, Ill:

The Committee on Constructive Studies in Religion, the Committee on Historical Studies, and the Committee on Religion and the Human Sciences

Degrees Offered: MA, PhD

Areas of Specialization:
Biblical Studies
History of Christianity
History of Judaism
History of Religions
Philosophy of Religion
Anthropology and Sociology of Religion
Religion and Literature

Committee on Religion and the Human Sciences: The Committee on Religion and the Human Sciences engages in the humanistic and social scientific study of religious traditions and phenomena, and it studies literature and society in relation to religion. Faculty and students associated with the Committee give primacy to methods of study that have become established in the academic community during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Though each of the areas that constitutes part of the Committee may draw on both the methods and materials of the other areas, each has its own distinctive profile. History of Religions emphasizes historical, phenomenological, and comparative studies; Anthropology and Sociology of Religion concentrates on the cultural context of religious experiences, communities, and practices; and Religion and Literature focuses on the critical and interpretive study of literary texts. 

Faculty Relevant to Islamic Studies: none at present

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University of Iowa; Iowa City, Iowa:

Department of Religious Studies

Degrees Offered: MA, PhD

Areas of Specialization:

· Modern Religious Thought

· Religion and Culture in Early Modern Europe and America

· Religion and Culture in South and East Asia

In addition, all graduate students benefit from the department's selection of three thematic foci of interest: Religion and the Arts, Religion and Conflict, and Religion and Health (including bioethics).

Faculty relevant to Islamic Studies:

Reza Alsan, Visiting Assistant Professor: Islam
Richard Turner, Associate Professor: African-American Religious History
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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Chapel Hill, NC:

Department of Religious Studies

Degrees Offered: MA, PhD

Areas of Specialization:

· American Religions

· Ancient Mediterranean Religions 

· History of Religions

· Islamic Studies (see also brochure on joint Duke-UNC program in Islamic Studies)

· Medieval and Early Modern Studies 

· Religion and Culture

Specialization in Islamic Studies

General Description:The field of Islamic studies at UNC-CH takes a global, interdisciplinary, and comparative approach to the study of Islamic religion and Muslim cultures. Utilizing literary, historical, sociological, anthropological, and other critical lenses, program participants explore a broad array of Islamic religious traditions, both elite and popular. Students also work closely with program faculty to develop their own particular sub-fields in Islamic studies. 

Languages:All students must develop proficiency in at least one Islamicate language (usually Arabic, Persian, Turkish, or Urdu) before proceeding to the dissertation stage. Additional languages may be required, depending on the research trajectory of the student. 

Faculty Relevant To Islamic Studies: 

Edward E. Curtis IV, D. Litt. et Phil. (University of South Africa, 2000). Islamic studies, African American Religions. Current research interests: African-American Islamic thought; religious life in Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam; Islam and race. 

Carl W. Ernst, Ph. D. (Harvard University, 1981). Islamic studies, with emphasis on South Asia and Iran. Current research interests: Sufism, Muslim interpretations of Hinduism, Islam in the contemporary world. 

Jodi Magness, Ph.D. (University of Pennsylvania, 1989). Islamic archaeology, focusing on the early Islamic period in Syria-Palestine. Research interests: Islamic pottery, settlement patterns.

Special Resources:One feature of the program is its close cooperation with the Islamic studies faculty from The Department of Religion at Duke University, located just ten miles from Chapel Hill. Graduate students from both programs regularly participate in joint graduate seminars and informal reading groups, and ask faculty from both universities to serve on their examination and Ph.D. committees. 

Additional resources for the comparative study of Islam in the area include the following: The Carolina-Duke-Emory Institute for the Study of Islam is a consortium of Religious Studies departments at UNC, Duke and Emory universities, focusing on faculty lecture series, graduate-student semester exchange, and collaborative project development. It promotes the analytical and comparative study of Islam.
The Carolina Seminar on Comparative Islamic Studies is a monthly seminar at UNC that brings together scholars and students from a variety of disciplines at colleges and universities in the Triangle and throughout North Carolina to share current research on Islamic cultures in different regions. It is merging into the new Center for Middle East Studies, housed in the UNC Asia Center.
The Center for the Study of Muslim Networks, located at Duke, is a research facility that aims to create an interlocking research program involving visiting fellows and workshops, international conferences, cyber resources and other forms of public awareness and outreach. The center also hosts the Muslim Networks Consortium, a collaborative network of scholars from Duke, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, and Emory University, together with several national and international universities around the world.
The North Carolina Center for South Asia Studies is a National Resource Center for South Asia studies, based at N.C. State, and cosponsored by UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke, North Carolina Central University, and North Carolina State University. It has a particular interest in South Asian Islam.
University of North Carolina Press has launched a manuscript series on Muslim Networks and Islamic Civilization edited by Bruce Lawrence and Carl Ernst. 

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University of Notre Dame; Notre Dame, IN:

Department of Theology

Degrees Offered: MA, MTS, PhD

Areas of Specialization:

· Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity

· The History of Christianity 

· Liturgical Studies

· Moral Theology/Christian Ethics

·      Systematic Theology

DescriptionScholarship pertaining to religious and theological matters is actively pursued in many departments. Hence, the resources available to graduate students exceed what is offered within the Department of Theology. Faculty, courses and research in other sectors of the University are available in the departments of philosophy, history (with resources in church history), sociology (including sociology of religion), government (especially church-state issues), anthropology (with accents on Islam and Latin American Christianity), the Medieval Institute (with excellent library and micromaterial collections), the Center for the Study of Contemporary Society, and the Institute for Church Life.

Faculty Relevant To Islamic Studies: David Burrell

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University of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, PA:

The Department of Religious Studies and the Graduate Group in Religious Studies 

Degrees Offered: MA, PhD

Areas of Specialization: The primary emphasis of the program is upon understanding through interpretation. Interpretation is broadly construed to include: appreciation of the ways in which geographically diverse cultures from ancient times to the present have interpreted their own religious symbols and actions; sophistication with regard to the methodological difficulties confronting those trained in modern, western scholarship as they attempt to interpret other traditions; understanding of the challenges that face the historian who attempts to establish the text, context, and authorship of a document or event for which evidence is scanty or conflicting; and awareness of the variety of theories that are employed by modern interpreters of religion and the philosophical presuppositions and scholarly ramifications that are implied by them. Thus the focus of the program is upon the descriptive, historical, critical and theoretical work that engages every interpreter of religion. Constructive ("sectarian") participation in those theological and philosophical tasks that are specific to particular religious traditions is not considered part of the Penn program. 

Faculty Relevant to Islamic Studies:

Barbara R. von Schlegell, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Adjunct Assistant Professor of History, Faculty Member of the Penn Middle East Center

Michael Sells, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, Haverford College

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University of Southern California; Los Angeles, CA:

Admissions Moratorium

Following the retirement of four senior School of Religion faculty members, the School of Religion has begun the process of rebuilding our faculty and redesigning the graduate program.

Accordingly, we will not admit new students into the graduate program in Religion and Social Ethics for the near future.

I would like to be able to tell you exactly the direction of the new graduate program, but it is still too early in the redesign process to do so. Since we will be hiring in more than one field, the redesigned graduate program will likely have more than one focus.  We hope to be able to include an ethics component as a part of a focus on religion and culture.

Thank you for your interest in our graduate program.

John P. Crossley,
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University of Toronto; Toronto, Ontario, Canada:

School of Graduate Studies: Centre for the Study of Religion

Degrees Offered: MA, PhD

Areas of Specialization: 

Faculty Relevant for Islamic Studies:

Sebastion Günther: Religion of Islam, Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Dr. Phil (Martin Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg). Areas of research: Religion of Islam, Islamic ethics and education, Shiism. 

Linda Northrup: Medieval Islam, Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, MA (McGill), PhD (McGill). Areas of research: history of the medieval Arab Islamic world, Mamluk history and historiography, political, economic and social history and institutions, including landholding patterns and Muslim-Christian relations.

James Reilly: Modern Middle Eastern History, Islamic Institutions,
Near and Middle Eastern Civilization, BA (Georgetown), MA (American University of Beirut), PhD (Georgetown). Areas of research: Ottoman Syria, urban history, social and economic history, Arab historiography of the Ottoman period

Walid Saleh: Islamic and Arabic Studies, Qur'an, Study of Religion, BA (American University of Beirut), MA (Yale), PhD (Yale). Areas of Research: The Qur'an, Quranic exegetical tradition, apocalyptic Islamic literature, history of Arabic lexicography, and medieval Arabic biographies.

Maria Subtelny, Islamic Religion, Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations,
BA (Toronto), PhD (Harvard). Areas of research: history and culture of medieval Islamic Iran and Central Asia, the Islamic pious endowment (waqf), classical Persian literature especially mystical poetry. 

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University of Virginia; Charlottesville, VA:

Department of Religious Studies

Degrees Offered: MA, PhD

Areas of Specialization: 

· History of Religions (African Religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism) 

· Theology, Ethics, and Culture (Ethics, Religion and Culture, Philosophical Theology and Philosophy of Religion)

· Historical Studies (Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity, European and American Religious History, Historical Theology). 

Description: Theology, Ethics, and Culture and Historical Studies support research in the history, practices, and thought of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as well as their interactions with various cultural, philosophical, and religious traditions.

Faculty Relevant for Islamic Studies:Abdulaziz A. Sachedina

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Vanderbilt University; Nashville, TN:


Graduate Department of Religion

Degrees Offered: MA, PhD

Areas of Specialization: 

Hebrew Bible

New Testament

Historical Studies

History and Critical

Theories of Religion

Theological Studies


Religion and Personality


Faculty Relevant To Islamic Studies: None at present.

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Yale University; New Haven, CT: 

Department of Religious Studies

Degrees Offered: MA, PhD

Areas of Specialization: 

American Religious History
Ancient Christianity
Buddhist Studies
Islamic Studies
Judaic Studies
New Testament
Old Testament/Hebrew Bible
Philosophy of Religion
Religious Ethics

Specialization in Islamic Studies:

Description: Students in Islamic Studies are expected to develop both a comprehensive knowledge of Islamic intellectual history and religious thought, as well as mastery of a field of specialization and the requisite tools for critical scholarship on Islam. They are expected to demonstrate competency in Islamic religious thought (focusing on Islamic philosophy and theology, including normative and sectarian developments such as Shi'ism and Sufism); Islamic religious history (focusing on the development of Islamic civilization, law, society, and institutions in the period from the origins of Islam to 1500 A.D.)and the study of Islamic scripture and tradition (focusing on the composition, redaction and interpretation of the Qur`an as well as on the development of Hadith literature). Recent dissertation topics in Islamic Studies include: Sufi Thought and Practice in the Teachings of `Ala` al-dawla al-Simnani; The Greeks in Medieval Islamic Egypt: A Melkite Dhimmi Community under the Patriarch of Alexandria, 640-1095; The Fabulous Gryphon; an Early Maghribine Work by Ibn al-`Arabi; Slavery in Islamic Law: An Examination of Early Maliki Jurisprudence; Between Mysticism and Messianism: The Life and Thought of Muhammad Nurbakhsh: The Qur`an Commentary of al-Tha`labi; Mystical Language and Theory in the Sufi Writings of al-Kharraz; The Travels and Teachings of Makhdum-i Jahaniyan Jahangasht; Ahmad Ghazzali: Mystical Poet and Philosopher of Medieval Islam. LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS Students admitted to the Ph.D. program in Islamic Studies are expected to possess or quickly acquire a proficiency in two scholarly languages, normally German and French. For further description of policy and procedure, see departmental brochure. Specific requirements for Islamic Studies are the following: No later than the end of the second year, each student must have passed an examination in advanced literary Arabic and must show the equivalent of two years of course work in Persian (Farsi). Under certain circumstances, a third Islamic language, such as Turkish or Urdu, may be extremely useful for research in the field as well. 

Faculty Relevant To Islamic Studies: 

Gerhard Bowering (Baccalaureate, Wurzburg; Ph.L., Philosophische Hochschule, Munich; Diploma, Panjab University, Lahore; Th.L., Montreal; Ph.D., McGill University) has been Professor of Islamic Studies since 1984. 

Frank Griffel (University Göttingen, Damascus University, M.A. Free University Berlin, Dr. phil. Free University Berlin) has been Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies since July 2000. 

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Last updated October 18, 2003.