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Funding increase for doctoral students

Divinity School Dean David Nirenberg has announced a significant increase in funding for both incoming and current students in the Divinity School’s doctoral studies program.

The new funding will add a sixth year of fellowship funding for doctoral students – including full tuition, living stipend, and individual health insurance – as well as up to 30 dissertation completion fellowships over the next three years, and increased funding for summer research grants. The increased investment represents over $3 million in new funds over the next three years. 

This increase in funding follows on several recent initiatives made by the Divinity School to meet the evolving needs of our doctoral students, including the convening of a faculty PhD Program Working Group tasked with identifying ways to improve the doctoral program and doctoral students’ experience, the creation of a Placement Committee, expanded teaching opportunities, and the creation of the Divinity School Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowships. All of these initiatives are designed to ensure that current and future doctoral students continue to receive “the best possible preparation as scholars of religion–in terms of the quality of coursework, creativity and depth of scholarship, pedagogical training and experience as instructors, and professional preparation for fruitful careers within and beyond the academy,” Nirenberg wrote in a message to faculty and students. 

Professor Sarah Fredericks, Director of Doctoral Studies for the Divinity School, noted the increased funding “will enable PhD students in the Divinity School to focus on conducting their original research projects and building rich knowledge of their field, foundations for their future research and teaching in the academic study of religion.” 

Like other University of Chicago divisions, the Divinity School has supported doctoral students with tuition aid, living stipends, summer research grants, and health insurance stipends under the Graduate Aid Initiative (GAI) for the past decade. The enhancements announced this week offer a significant increase in aid across the board. 

“This investment in our students helps the Divinity School’s doctoral program remain one of the world’s preeminent venues for the academic study of religion,” said Josh Feigelson, Dean of Students in the Divinity School. “This will be a boon for continuing to recruit the top tier of applicants.” 

The PhD program at the University of Chicago Divinity School is a rigorous course of advanced study and research. During their time at the Divinity School, doctoral students focus on one of eleven areas of study, and achieve a high level of expertise. They also take coursework across our curriculum, gain proficiency in ancient and modern languages, pass a series of examinations that demonstrate their mastery of their field, and write a dissertation of original research. Graduates of the Divinity School’s PhD program are faculty at leading religious studies departments and seminaries around the world and hold intellectual leadership positions both inside and beyond the academy. 

Changes will become effective as of summer quarter 2019; specific information for students, current and prospective, is available from the Office of the Dean of Students.