Letter from the Director

Welcome to Religious Studies reinvented for the 21st century! As the newest major graduate program in Religious Studies, our course of study is designed to give students the deep skills of a specialist while making those skills relevant in new ways by fostering collaboration across the university and beyond it.


The "graduate group" structure of our program offers possibilities for the study of religion not available in more traditional departments. While working toward a degree in religion, students have opportunities to take courses from faculty members representing a wide variety of disciplines. These include African and African-American studies, art history, anthropology and archaeology, classics, comparative literature, critical theory, cultural studies, East Asian languages and literatures, english, history, Jewish studies, music, Native American studies, philosophy, religious studies, science and technology studies, sociology, and women and gender studies. Students are encouraged to not only work with different faculty members but also shape their studies in synthetic and creative ways. Our goal is to help you make a truly distinct contribution while also providing you with core training and structure.


A second distinctive strength of our program is how we train students for successful careers. We see the PhD as intense, rigorous preparation for the life of the mind, developing valuable new ideas and sharing them. Our research workshops encourage students and faculty to create and share new work in a collaborative setting, together with scholars of all levels. And public scholarship is built into our graduate training. The deep research, analytical sophistication, and communication skills we teach translate to life in the larger world, preparing scholars to thrive in the public and private sectors as well as in the academy.


And Davis is a great place to be! Whatever your interests, our region offers extraordinary access to city culture -- Sacramento just 20 minutes away and the San Francisco Bay area just an hour or so-- not to mention the stunning majesty and outdoor opportunities of the Sierras and Lake Tahoe. When you have a moment, check out these videos made by two of our recent graduates explaining just why they enjoyed being in the group so much.


We invite you to take time to visit the links provided for the various affiliated departments, programs, and centers. Please write me with any comments and questions. We’d love to hear from you.


Please note that in keeping with our core values of fully funding and individually training each student in an optimal cohort size, we have paused admissions for 2019, resuming in 2020 and the following years.



Graduate Group Director