Ph.D. Program

Entrance requirements

The Department of Religion considers applications to do doctoral work only in the research areas of its faculty, which currently include: religions of south and east Asia, esp. Hinduism and Buddhism; Bible, formative Christianity, religions and cultures of Western antiquity; Reformation and aspects of early modern/modern Christianity; Christianity, culture and society; Christian texts; Islam; Islamic texts; Judaism; methodology, hermeneutics and critical theory.

Successful applicants to the Ph.D. program normally require a thesis-based M.A. in Religion (with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5) or its equivalent.

Financial Assistance

Graduate students may apply to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Research Grant. Application forms and further information can be obtained from:

All eligible applicants to the department will be considered for the University of manitoba Graduate Scholarship (UMGF) if their application has been received by January 15th.

A student who wishes to apply for university-funded financial assistance should log onto the Faculty of Graduate Studies website at:

Students interested in applying as a Teaching Assistant, Grader Marker, or Research Assistant may obtain employment information and application forms from the University of Manitoba, Human Resources website at:

NOTE: The above noted employment opportunities are posted usually within several weeks prior to the start of the academic year in September. 

Students in the Ph. D. program in Religion are also eligible for the following:

  • The Ruth and Gordon Harland Fellowship (application not required; students are nominated for this departmental award)
  • The August Dyck Fellowship (application not required; students are nominated for this departmental award)
  • The Donald Snider Fellowship (application required; contact department for further details)

Selection Committee

After receiving an application for admission, the Head of the Department, who serves as the Chair of the Ph. D. Program in Religion, appoints a Selection Committee consisting of three members of the Department in addition to the Head. This Committee meets and evaluates the application and the student’s suitability for Ph. D. work in Religion. Acceptance must be recommended by the entire Selection Committee, and approved by the Department Head. The application is then forwarded to the Faculty of Graduate Studies with the recommendation as to acceptance or rejection. The ultimate decision as to admission rests with the Faculty of Graduate Studies. A letter of acceptance or rejection is sent to the applicant directly from the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Advisor and Program Advisory Committee

On acceptance of a student into the Ph. D. Program in Religion, the Department Head establishes a Program Advisory Committee according to the regulations of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. One of the members of the Program Advisory Committee, who is a member of the Department of Religion, shall be the student’s principal Advisor, and shall indicate agreement to serve as Advisor by signing the Ph.D. Advisor Agreement form. At least two other members of the Department, one of whom may be the Head, shall be members of the Program Advisory Committee.

The Program Advisory Committee is responsible for determining the student’s program of studies, including language requirements. Subsequent to the admission meeting, Ph.D. students must meet annually with their Advisor and entire Advisory Committee, usually in May, to review the student’s progress thus far and to outline goals for the upcoming academic year.  The Advisor, Advisory Committee and student must sign the Annual Progress Report.

Ph. D. Program Requirements

Students accepted into the program are required to complete a minimum of 18 credit hours of coursework at the 7000 level. In addition, students must have at least 6 credit hours of current training in methodology (3 credit hours in methodology for the study of Eastern Religions and 3 credit hours in methodology for the study of Western Religions). 

Students must maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 with no grade below C+ for continuance in the program.

Language Requirements

Students in the Ph. D. program must demonstrate competence in two research languages relevant to the proposed doctoral thesis. The research languages are determined by the Program Advisory Committee for students on an individual basis. The language requirements are normally satisfied by students successfully completing language translation examinations.

The Ph. D. Candidacy Examinations

At the time specified by the Program Advisory Committee, normally within the first year after completion of coursework requirements but in no case later than one year prior to expected graduation, the student must take the formal Candidacy Examinations. Typically, the Candidacy Examinations take place within one year after completion of coursework. The student is allowed approximately 5 to 8 months preparation time subsequent to approval of the bibliography.

In Religion, the format of these Examinations is as follows: 

  • Students must sit two 3-hour exams in the major area of research, and one 3-hour exam in each of two minor research areas. The specified research areas must correspond with areas in which the Religion doctoral program is offered. 
  • In each of the examinations students are given a selection of questions from which they are to answer three. 
  • The Candidacy Examination areas are defined by the student’s Candidacy Examining Committee, which is normally comprised of the Department members who have served on the student’s Program Advisory Committee. In every case, in addition to the Advisor, the Candidacy Examination Committee must include at least two other members of the Department, preferably faculty with whom the student has done formal course work. An internal-external faculty member may be included if the student’s doctoral coursework has involved study with this individual. 
  • Based on the parameters for the four Candidacy Examinations that have been agreed upon by the members of the Candidacy Examining Committee, the student, in consultation with the Candidacy Examining Committee, prepares a reading list consisting of no more than 100 titles.  The reading list, once approved by the Examining Committee, will cover the areas in which the four examinations are to be written. 
  • Scheduling of the Candidacy Examinations is arranged through the Department by the Graduate Program Assistant.
  • The Candidacy Examinations are written on campus, usually within the Department, and under supervision. 
  • All written exams are read by all members of the Examining Committee and graded either “Pass” or “Fail.” 
  • A closed oral examination follows the four written exams and is based on questioning of those written papers. The oral examination is conducted by all members of the Examining Committee, and is usually chaired by either the Head of the Department or the Chair of the JDC, or designate if both of those faculty are members of the Examining Committee. Successful completion of the examination is reported to the Faculty of Graduate Studies on a Candidacy Examination Report form. All members of the Examining Committee must sign this form. 
  • Should the student not pass all or part of the Candidacy Examination – its written or oral components – the Examining Committee must determine, in accordance with Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations, whether repetition or remedial examination is required.

The Ph. D. Thesis Proposal

A Ph. D. candidate who has passed their Candidacy Examinations and completed their course and language requirements to the satisfaction of the Program Advisory Committee, must submit a thesis proposal. The proposal is prepared in consultation with the Advisor. Approximately 10 pages in length, with a bibliography added, the proposal sets out the student’s research question, establishes its original contribution to the field, explicates the thesis methodology, and provides a chapter-by-chapter outline of the thesis. The proposal is submitted to the Department Head who, as Chair of the Ph. D. thereupon distributes it to the student’s Thesis Advisory Committee. This is the Committee that will work with the student throughout the thesis-stage; the Committee includes some or all of the members of the Program Advisory Committee and may also include an internal-external faculty member whose expertise is relevant to the thesis research. The Thesis Advisory Committee is formalized by the Department Head, in consultation with the Advisor. Members of the Thesis Advisory Committee must approve the thesis proposal by signature on the Thesis Proposal Approval Form.

On the advice of the Advisor, in consultation with the Department Head, a student may elect to present the thesis proposal to an open forum.

The Ph. D. Thesis and Oral Defense

An essential feature of the PhD is the candidate’s demonstration of the competence to complete a major research project and present her/his findings with critical sophistication. The thesis must constitute a distinct (and original) contribution to scholarly knowledge and the material must be of sufficient merit to be, in the judgment of the examiners, acceptable for publication. The thesis must be written according to a standard style manual acknowledged by a particular field of study and recommended by the Department of Religion to be lucid and well written, and free from typographical and other errors.

Once the thesis is completed and approved by the Advisor, it is submitted, along with a copy of the Ph.D. Thesis Title and Appointment of Examiners form to the Faculty of Graduate Studies. The Thesis Examining Committee will normally consist of: the Advisor; two faculty members from the student’s home department (normally those belonging to the student’s Thesis Advisory Committee); one faculty member who is external to the student’s home department; and, one examiner who is external to the University of Manitoba.

NOTE: The Advisor, in consultation with the Department Head, will recommend names of potential External Examiners to the Faculty of Graduate Studies.  The Faculty of Graduate Studies, who makes the final decision in such matters, will determine which individual will be invited to serve.

Candidates for the PhD must submit the required number of copies to the Faculty of Graduate Studies for circulation to the members of the Thesis Examining Committee for final approval to proceed to the oral defense of thesis. 

The members of the Thesis Examining Committee have one month from the date of receipt of the thesis, plus mailing time, to read and report on the thesis. At the end of this time, the Faculty of Graduate Studies will further notify members of the committee of their obligation. All internal members of the committee must be present for the oral defense of thesis.

The oral defense of thesis is scheduled by the Faculty of Graduate Studies which will ensure that memoranda announcing the examination are distributed. The oral examination is open to all members of the University community. Graduate students are especially encouraged to attend. Notices of the upcoming defense of thesis, including the invitation to graduate students, will be posted within the department and the throughout the student’s home faculty.

Procedures leading up to defense of thesis:  At least two weeks prior to the proposed date of the defense of thesis the following information must be received in the Faculty of Graduate Studies Office:

  • Thesis Examining Committee reports (both internal and external); 
  • The Approval for Advancement to Ph.D. oral examinations form; 
  • Examination program information; 
  • Candidate’s biographical data—date and place of birth, awards, etc.;(student to submit directly to Faculty of Graduate Studies) 
  • List of degrees obtained—institution and date;  (student to submit directly to Faculty of Graduate Studies) 
  • Exact title of thesis; 
  • List of the candidate’s publications and joint publications;  (student to submit directly to Faculty of Graduate Studies) 
  • An abstract of the thesis (limit: 350 words). (student to submit directly to Faculty of Graduate Studies)

Further information and guidelines for the completion of thesis can be obtained from the Faculty of Graduate Studies website at:



Upon successful completion of the oral defense of thesis students must submit two unbound copies to the Faculty of Graduate Studies by:


Students are also encouraged to submit one bound copy of their thesis to the Department of Religion.