PhD Program Information
Drawing on the combined resources of the Department of Religion and Culture at Wilfrid Laurier University and the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Waterloo, the Laurier-Waterloo PhD in religious studies offers a program in the religious diversity of North America.
The PhD has two objectives, a traditional as well as a non-traditional one. The traditional objective is to educate students pursuing careers in post-secondary teaching and research. The courses, examinations, and other requirements will provide them with knowledge necessary for doctoral-level research, writing, and teaching in the field of religious studies. The PhD dissertation requires original research that contributes significantly to knowledge in the humanities and social sciences. The program is structured to provide future scholars with the specialized training required for competing successfully in the academic job market. Graduates of the program should have acquired experience in standard academic activities: conducting independent research, preparing scholarly publications, teaching courses in a field of specialization, and contributing to academic and non-academic communities.
The aspirations and tenor of the program also differ from those of traditional, multi-field doctoral programs. Not all graduates of a PhD program aspire to academic careers. Consequently, the program also guides candidates in adapting their skills to non-academic careers for which religious studies training is valuable. Publishing, journalism, the media, the arts, government, social services, and law are areas of public life in which sensitivity to religious, ethnic, and other expressions of human diversity are essential. Analytical, organizational, and communication skills are a prerequisite in these arenas just as they are in academe.
Professional organizations such as the Canadian Society for the Study of Religion (CSSR) and the American Academy of Religion (AAR), along with publishers and funding organizations such as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), are actively encouraging scholars to become more explicit and conscientious in communicating the results of their research. In keeping with such an aim, the program prepares scholars who can effectively enter arenas of debate and withstand the heat of public intellectual life. So the PhD emphasizes speaking and writing for interdisciplinary audiences as well as for the educated public. The dissertation must be an exemplary example of research, but it must also be a book crafted for an audience more diverse than the usual small group of specialists.
In addition to emphasizing writing skills, the program cultivates and evaluates speaking as well as other public performance skills. The program fosters in students both a focus and a flexibility that will serve them well in a job market that requires adaptability, creativity, and the ability to be articulate in public situations.
In applying, you must request one of the two universities as your home institution. your academic goals and interests are more suited to the partner institution, an offer of admission may be tendered by that institution instead. Students in the program may use faculty and library resources at both universities but are governed by the regulations of university in which they are registered. A studentís degree is granted by the home university. The application form requires you to submit a brief describing your academic backgrounds, plans, and goals. As you prepare the brief, we strongly encourage you to discuss it with faculty who may be potential advisors.
Inquiries and completed forms, regardless of which university you are applying to, should be addressed to:
Office of Graduate Studies
Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L3C5
Phone (519) 884-0710, ex. 3128
Inquiries concerning the nature of the program should be addressed to its director:
Dr. Jason Neelis, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inquiries to the University of Waterloo should be directed to the Graduate Officer, Dr. Jeff Wilson at email@example.com.