What is the typical trajectory of a PhD program in the Divinity School?

In very broad terms PhD students complete two to three years of coursework, sit for the Qualifying Examination in their third or fourth year (four four-hour written exams and an oral exam based upon the written exams and a paper of academic research), complete a dissertation proposal colloquium in their fourth or fifth year, and then write their dissertation. A great many factors influence this timeline —including prior preparation, familial obligations, language learning needs, and the nature of one’s research (e.g. fieldwork, archival research, etc.)— such that it can be difficult to specify a typical instance.


What kind of advising do PhD students receive?

PhD students work with a primary advisor during their coursework, and their examiners likewise offer advising in preparation for Qualifying Examinations. During the dissertation proposal, drafting, and submission processes, the student works with a faculty director and receives advising from her or his readers.


I have interests in more than one area of study, and I’m worried that I won’t be able to do the kind of interdisciplinary work that I imagine. What should I know?

Interdisciplinarity is a central feature of life and work in the Divinity School, and it has formal and informal presences in the PhD program. While students specify one area of study, they must sit for at least one Qualifying Examination that is outside of their area, and course enrollments are not limited by area of study or degree program (excepting doctoral seminars or the normal circumstances of prerequisite). Informally, students participate in interdisciplinary workshops that convoke students and faculty from the Divinity School, Humanities, and Social Sciences.


Will I engage students in other areas of the Divinity School, and of the University, or will my area of study be a silo?

It is the rare PhD student who completes her or his degree without meaningful dialogue and work across areas of study, degree programs, divisions, and schools. Through workshops, coursework, and co-curricular offerings from the Divinity Students Association and UChicagoGRAD, opportunities for wide-ranging conversation and collegiality abound.