Religious Studies Department at The University of Texas at Austin Introduces Graduate Program

The Department of Religious Studies at The University of Texas at Austin has announced its first graduate program in religious studies.

Through this first-of-its-kind program at a public university in Texas, graduate students may select one of five areas of concentration:

  • Religion in Asia
  • Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean
  • Religion in Europe and the Middle East
  • Religion in the Americas
  • Transregional and Comparative Studies in Religion

Approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board on July 29, the program is designed to allow students to earn a doctorate in religious studies and gain skills needed for research and teaching positions in higher education, as well as positions in foreign affairs, journalism and international relations.

The department has been planning the graduate program since its undergraduate major was approved in 2001, said Professor L. Michael White, who holds the Ronald Nelson Smith Chair in Classics and Religious Studies and is a specialist in early Judaism and Christian origins.

"We are fortunate to have a core faculty who are already widely known in the key areas of the study of religion across time and cultures," White said. "Equally important, the College of Liberal Arts and the entire university afford stellar resources in languages, historical and social sciences, cultural and area studies, and library and research support. In short, all the areas that make a first-rate graduate program possible. We look forward now to making it one of the best."

The department will begin accepting applications for enrollment for fall 2011 in October.

Established in 2007, the Department of Religious Studies provides a venue within the university and the community for the exploration of the historical, intellectual, social and cultural aspects of religions. Like other religious studies departments at public universities, it takes no denominational position, but encourages the analysis of the ways religions function within human society.