FAQ - Areas of Study

Some of the schools to which I’m considering applying have topically arranged areas of study, but the Divinity School’s organizational scheme seems different. What can you tell me about that?

The Divinity School’s areas of study, broadly speaking, are organized methodologically rather than topically—suggesting common questions, interpretive principles, and trajectories of thought. For more on this point, including a historical note about the School’s organization, see our page on Areas of Study and Committees of the Faculty.


I don’t see an area in Jewish Studies. Does the Divinity School have a program in this?

Yes, but by another name or names. Students working in Jewish Studies tend to work through the (Hebrew) Bible and History of Judaism areas of study, depending on the nature of their research interests and questions. For more on resources for students in Jewish Studies, see the video from Prof. James T. Robinson at the bottom of this page.


I am interested in doing coursework and research in a particular religious tradition (e.g. Hinduism, Vedism, Buddhism, Daoism, Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, etc.), but I do not see an area of study for any of these. Does the Divinity School have a program for me?

Students might work on the traditions named in parenthesis above through one or more areas of study in the Divinity School, depending upon the nature of one’s research interests and questions. Students who study these, and other, traditions most often work through the Anthropology and Sociology of Religions, History of Religions, and Philosophy of Religions areas, but they might also find relevant coursework in Religion, Literature, and Visual Culture, Religions in America, and Religious Ethics.


I’m torn between two or more areas of study for the PhD, as it seems that my research could be pursued in all of them. What would you advise?

Two things: First, spend some time reading through the faculty profiles organized by areas of study and think through which area includes faculty whose research interests most closely align with your own. When you think you’ve narrowed it down, reach out to a member of the faculty to discuss your interests. Second, visit our Virtual Brochure Shelf, and read through the Area Guidelines and Qualifying Exam lists (see tabbed box, tab two) for the areas in question. Sometimes students discern the appropriate area by way of the texts and questions that most centrally animate the examination process.

Jewish Studies at UChicago

Professor James T. Robinson discusses the faculty resources for doing work in Jewish Studies at the Divinity School.

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