About the PhD Program

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About the Ph.D. Program

Our Ph.D. program is designed to prepare the very best candidates for successful careers in research and teaching at the university level. We have been ranked among the top 5 doctoral programs in Religious Studies in the country, and admissions is highly selective to produce incoming classes of 4 to 8 students. All doctoral students are admitted into one of the Department’s fields of specialization and must fulfill the specific requirements of that field:

Ancient Mediterranean Religions

ancient-med_buttonAncient Mediterranean Religions focuses on ancient forms of religious expression, from Mesopotamia to Rome, encompassing the geographic regions and time periods out of which Judaism and Christianity first emerged. Faculty pursue a variety of critical approaches, including text criticism, linguistic and literary analysis, philosophy, history, and archaeology, in order to examine diversity, interaction, and development in the religious cultures of the ancient Near East and Mediterranean.

Faculty work in the following subfields and, at the time of application, students are expected to select one of them as their primary specialization:

  • Ancient Near East
  • Hebrew Bible
  • Early Judaism
  • Archaeology
  • Greco-Roman Religions
  • Early Christianity (including New Testament)
  • Religions of Late Antiquity

For more on this field of specialization, click here.

Core Faculty:

Bart D. Ehrman; Joseph Lam; David Lambert; Jodi Magness; Hugo Méndez; Zlatko Plese

Associated Faculty:

Evyatar Marienberg

Islamic Studies

angel_buttonredThe field of Islamic Studies takes a global, interdisciplinary, and comparative approach to the study of Islamic religion and Muslim cultures. Utilizing literary, historical, sociological, anthropological, and other critical approaches, students explore a broad array of Islamic religious traditions, both elite and popular. Students also work closely with program faculty to develop their own particular sub-fields in Islamic Studies.

One feature of the program is its close cooperation with the Islamic studies faculty from The Department of Religion at Duke University, located just ten miles from Chapel Hill. Graduate students from both programs regularly participate in joint graduate seminars and informal reading groups, and ask faculty from both universities to serve on their examination and Ph.D. committees.

Additional resources for the comparative study of Islam in the area include the following:

Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies programs at UNC and in the Triangle are coordinated by the UNC Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies, housed in the Global Education Center.  The Middle East Center collaborates with the Duke University Middle East Center to form theConsortium for Middle East Studies at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a federally funded Title VI National Resource Center. Another affiliated resource is the Duke Islamic Studies Center.

University of North Carolina Press has launched a book series on Islamic Civilization and Muslim Networks edited by Bruce Lawrence and Carl Ernst.

For more detailed information on the Islamic studies field, see the remarks of Carl Ernst on “Graduate Admission Information for Islamic Studies at UNC.”

For more on this field of specialization, click here.

Core Faculty:

Youssef Carter; Carl W. Ernst; Juliane Hammer; Waleed Ziad

Associated Faculty:

Jodi Magness

Affiliated Faculty:

Charles Kurzman, Sociology (UNC); Omid Safi, Asian & ME Studies (Duke)

Medieval and Early Modern Studies

image_miniThe program in Medieval and Early Modern Studies is designed to encourage broad understanding of the history of one or more of the major Eurasian religious traditions from their formative periods (in the first millennium C.E.) through the nineteenth century and mastery of a specific area of specialization within that range. The field’s scholarly focus is the relationship between religious traditions and their cultural settings, the study of which is multidisciplinary and can only be undertaken responsibly in concert with colleagues and students from other University departments (including Art and Architectural History, Anthropology, Asian Studies, English, Classics, History, Philosophy, Romance Languages, German, and Comparative Literature).

For more on this field of specialization, click here.

Core Faculty:

Jessica A. Boon; Evyatar Marienberg

Associated Faculty:

Barbara R. Ambros; Carl W. Ernst; Brandon Bayne

Religion and Culture

rc_buttonReligion and Culture focuses on the critical study of culture with specific attention to the position of religion within modernity. The field explores a variety of philosophical and cultural themes arising from modern discourses on religion, including academic discourses. The theoretical basis of Religion and Culture is informed not only by the Western philosophical tradition but also by a broader range of intellectual traditions, incorporating the perspectives of ethnography, critical theory, and contemporary cultural criticism.

All students in Religion and Culture are expected to become well-grounded in modern Western intellectual and cultural history since the seventeenth century, including the major traditions of modern scholarly engagement with religion as well as the critical reactions to these traditions. Building on this foundation, each student designs and carries out focused study in a specific discursive tradition or a particular empirical moment of cultural practice. Students specialize in such areas as the ethnographic study of religion, religion in American law and politics, Jewish studies, religion and gender, and modern Western religious thought.

For more on this field of specialization, click here.

Core Faculty:

Andrea Dara Cooper; Randall G. Styers

Associated Faculty:

Jessica A. Boon; Lauren G. Leve; Todd Ramón Ochoa; Brendan Jamal Thornton

Affiliated Faculty:

Jason Bivins, Philosophy and Religion (NSCU); Christian Lundberg, Communication Studies (UNC); Barry Saunders, Social Medicine (UNC)

Religion in the Americas

RiA_buttonThe field of Religion in the Americas emphasizes the multiplicity of religious traditions in the Americas and explores the links between religion and other aspects of American culture from the precolonial era to the present. Special features of the program at UNC include its close affiliations with related disciplines in the humanities and social sciences and the freedom it allows in the selection of sources and methods for the study of American religion.

Opportunities for the study of American religion here and at other institutions in central North Carolina are particularly strong.

Scholars in other Departments or programs at UNC such as Afro-American Studies, American Studies, Anthropology, English, Folklore, History, Latin American Studies, Political Science, and Sociology, regularly offer courses and participate in graduate examinations in the field.

There is a large and well-developed program in American religious history at nearby Duke University. Students at both institutions routinely enroll in each other’s graduate courses and participate in a series of jointly sponsored colloquia each semester.

The Southern Historical Collection, the North Carolina Historical Collection, and the folklore and ethnomusicology collections at UNC attract researchers from all parts of the nation. Specialized resources such as the Wesleyan collection at Duke, the Primitive Baptist collection at Elon College, the Friends collection at Guilford College, and the Southern Baptist collections at Wake Forest and at Southeastern Baptist Seminary, are easily accessible.

For more on this field of specialization, click here.

Core Faculty:

Yaakov S. Ariel; Brandon Bayne; Todd Ramón Ochoa; Brendan Jamal Thornton

Associated Faculty:

Juliane Hammer

Affiliated Faculty:

Jason Bivins, Philosophy and Religion (NCSU)

Religions of Asia

mini_RoAbuttonReligions of Asia specializes in ethnographic and historical approaches to the study of the religions of Asia. Students in this field of specialization focus on Asian traditions in their social, cultural, and historical environments and contexts of exchange. Participants in this concentration use a variety of methodologies to explore specific questions and themes (including gender, diaspora, personhood and identity, place and pilgrimage, religion and the state, transnationalism/globalization, and the cultural and political dynamics of religious modernity) as these intersect, influence, and are influenced by past and present religious formations. Core faculty have particular expertise in the contemporary religious worlds of Japan and Nepal.

For more on this field of specialization, click here.

Core Faculty:

Barbara Rossetti Ambros; Lauren G. Leve

Associated Faculty:

Carl W. Ernst

Across these specific fields we have a range of strengths in regions, traditions, methodologies, and themes. Graduate students regularly develop expertise in these areas by taking thematically-focused courses within and beyond the graduate fields in which they were admitted. We encourage applicants to consider how faculty strengths across concentrations provide resources for projects situated in a particular concentration:

Regions: East Asia, Europe & the Mediterranean, Middle East/Africa, Latin America & the Caribbean, North America, South Asia & the Himalayas

Barbara Rossetti Ambros
Department Chair, Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religions of Asia
Regions: East Asia
Traditions: Buddhism and other religions of Asia
Methods: Ethnography
Topics: Animals and Religion, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Space and Place

Yaakov Ariel
Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion in the Americas
Regions: Middle East/Africa, North America
Traditions: Contemporary and Global Christianities, Inter-religious Interactions, Judaism
Methods: Historical Methods, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Jewish Studies, Race and Ethnicity

Brandon Bayne
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion in the Americas
Regions: Latin America and the Caribbean, North America
Traditions: Catholicism, Inter-religious Interactions
Methods: Historical Methods, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Materiality and Embodiment, Race and Ethnicity, Space and Place

Jessica A. Boon
Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies

Field(s) of specialization: Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Religion and Culture
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Latin America and the Caribbean
Traditions: Catholicism, Inter-religious Interactions
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Historical Methods
Topics: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Materiality and Embodiment, Mysticism, Science Studies

Youssef Carter
Assistant Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Islamic Studies
Regions: Middle East/Africa, North America
Traditions: Islam, Religions of the Black Atlantic/African Diaspora
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Ethnography
Topics: Anthropology of Religion, Mysticism, Race and Ethnicity

Andrea Dara Cooper
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion and Culture
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, North America
Traditions: Judaism
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Animals and Religion, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Jewish Studies

Bart D. Ehrman
James A. Gray Distinguished Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Early Christianity
Methods: Historical Methods, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Biblical Interpretation

Carl W. Ernst
William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Islamic Studies
Regions: Middle East/Africa, South Asia and the Himalayas
Traditions: Islam, Religions of the Black Atlantic/African Diaspora
Methods: Historical Methods, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Mysticism, Race and Ethnicity

Juliane Hammer
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Islamic Studies
Regions: Middle East/Africa, North America
Traditions: Islam
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Ethnography
Topics: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Race and Ethnicity

Joseph Lam
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Judaism
Methods: Philology, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Biblical Interpretation, Jewish Studies

David Lambert
Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Early Christianity, Judaism
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Historical Methods, Philology, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Biblical Interpretation, Jewish Studies, Materiality and Embodiment

Lauren G. Leve
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion and Culture, Religions of Asia
Regions: South Asia and the Himalayas
Traditions: Buddhism and other religions of Asia, Contemporary and Global Christianities
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Ethnography
Topics: Anthropology of Religion, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Materiality and Embodiment

Jodi Magness
Kenan Distinguished Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Greco-Roman Religions, Judaism
Methods: Archaeology, Historical Methods
Topics: Biblical Interpretation, Jewish Studies

Evyatar Marienberg
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Catholicism, Judaism
Methods: Ethnography, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Jewish Studies, Religion and Law

Hugo Méndez
Assistant Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Early Christianity, Orthodox Christianity
Methods: Historical Methods, Philology, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Biblical Interpretation, Materiality and Embodiment

Todd Ramón Ochoa
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion and Culture, Religion in the Americas
Regions: Latin America and the Caribbean, North America
Traditions: Religions of the Black Atlantic/African Diaspora
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Ethnography
Topics: Anthropology of Religion, Materiality and Embodiment, Race and Ethnicity

Zlatko Pleše
Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Early Christianity, Greco-Roman Religions
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Philology, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Biblical Interpretation, Mysticism

Randall G. Styers
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion and Culture
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, North America
Traditions: Contemporary and Global Christianities, Inter-religious Interactions
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Religion and Law, Science Studies

Brendan Jamal Thornton
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion and Culture, Religion in the Americas
Regions: Latin America and the Caribbean
Traditions: Contemporary and Global Christianities, Religions of the Black Atlantic/African Diaspora
Methods: Ethnography
Topics: Anthropology of Religion, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Race and Ethnicity

Waleed Ziad
Assistant Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Islamic Studies
Regions: Middle East/Africa, South Asia and the Himalayas
Traditions: Islam
Methods: Ethnography
Topics: Mysticism, Space and Place

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Traditions: Buddhism & other religions of Asia, Christianity (Catholicism, Contemporary & Global Christianities, Early Christianity, Orthodox Christianity), Greco-Roman Religions, Inter-religious interactions, Judaism, Islam, Religions of the Black Atlantic/African Diaspora

Barbara Rossetti Ambros
Department Chair, Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religions of Asia
Regions: East Asia
Traditions: Buddhism and other religions of Asia
Methods: Ethnography
Topics: Animals and Religion, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Space and Place

Yaakov Ariel
Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion in the Americas
Regions: Middle East/Africa, North America
Traditions: Contemporary and Global Christianities, Inter-religious Interactions, Judaism
Methods: Historical Methods, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Jewish Studies, Race and Ethnicity

Brandon Bayne
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion in the Americas
Regions: Latin America and the Caribbean, North America
Traditions: Catholicism, Inter-religious Interactions
Methods: Historical Methods, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Materiality and Embodiment, Race and Ethnicity, Space and Place

Jessica A. Boon
Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies

Field(s) of specialization: Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Religion and Culture
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Latin America and the Caribbean
Traditions: Catholicism, Inter-religious Interactions
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Historical Methods
Topics: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Materiality and Embodiment, Mysticism, Science Studies

Youssef Carter
Assistant Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Islamic Studies
Regions: Middle East/Africa, North America
Traditions: Islam, Religions of the Black Atlantic/African Diaspora
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Ethnography
Topics: Anthropology of Religion, Mysticism, Race and Ethnicity

Andrea Dara Cooper
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion and Culture
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, North America
Traditions: Judaism
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Animals and Religion, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Jewish Studies

Bart D. Ehrman
James A. Gray Distinguished Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Early Christianity
Methods: Historical Methods, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Biblical Interpretation

Carl W. Ernst
William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Islamic Studies
Regions: Middle East/Africa, South Asia and the Himalayas
Traditions: Islam, Religions of the Black Atlantic/African Diaspora
Methods: Historical Methods, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Mysticism, Race and Ethnicity

Juliane Hammer
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Islamic Studies
Regions: Middle East/Africa, North America
Traditions: Islam
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Ethnography
Topics: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Race and Ethnicity

Joseph Lam
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Judaism
Methods: Philology, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Biblical Interpretation, Jewish Studies

David Lambert
Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Early Christianity, Judaism
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Historical Methods, Philology, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Biblical Interpretation, Jewish Studies, Materiality and Embodiment

Lauren G. Leve
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion and Culture, Religions of Asia
Regions: South Asia and the Himalayas
Traditions: Buddhism and other religions of Asia, Contemporary and Global Christianities
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Ethnography
Topics: Anthropology of Religion, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Materiality and Embodiment

Jodi Magness
Kenan Distinguished Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Greco-Roman Religions, Judaism
Methods: Archaeology, Historical Methods
Topics: Biblical Interpretation, Jewish Studies

Evyatar Marienberg
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Catholicism, Judaism
Methods: Ethnography, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Jewish Studies, Religion and Law

Hugo Méndez
Assistant Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Early Christianity, Orthodox Christianity
Methods: Historical Methods, Philology, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Biblical Interpretation, Materiality and Embodiment

Todd Ramón Ochoa
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion and Culture, Religion in the Americas
Regions: Latin America and the Caribbean, North America
Traditions: Religions of the Black Atlantic/African Diaspora
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Ethnography
Topics: Anthropology of Religion, Materiality and Embodiment, Race and Ethnicity

Zlatko Pleše
Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Early Christianity, Greco-Roman Religions
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Philology, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Biblical Interpretation, Mysticism

Randall G. Styers
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion and Culture
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, North America
Traditions: Contemporary and Global Christianities, Inter-religious Interactions
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Religion and Law, Science Studies

Brendan Jamal Thornton
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion and Culture, Religion in the Americas
Regions: Latin America and the Caribbean
Traditions: Contemporary and Global Christianities, Religions of the Black Atlantic/African Diaspora
Methods: Ethnography
Topics: Anthropology of Religion, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Race and Ethnicity

Waleed Ziad
Assistant Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Islamic Studies
Regions: Middle East/Africa, South Asia and the Himalayas
Traditions: Islam
Methods: Ethnography
Topics: Mysticism, Space and Place

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Methods: Archaeology, Critical Theory & Continental Philosophy, Ethnography, Historical Methods, Philology, Textual Interpretation

Barbara Rossetti Ambros
Department Chair, Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religions of Asia
Regions: East Asia
Traditions: Buddhism and other religions of Asia
Methods: Ethnography
Topics: Animals and Religion, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Space and Place

Yaakov Ariel
Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion in the Americas
Regions: Middle East/Africa, North America
Traditions: Contemporary and Global Christianities, Inter-religious Interactions, Judaism
Methods: Historical Methods, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Jewish Studies, Race and Ethnicity

Brandon Bayne
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion in the Americas
Regions: Latin America and the Caribbean, North America
Traditions: Catholicism, Inter-religious Interactions
Methods: Historical Methods, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Materiality and Embodiment, Race and Ethnicity, Space and Place

Jessica A. Boon
Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies

Field(s) of specialization: Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Religion and Culture
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Latin America and the Caribbean
Traditions: Catholicism, Inter-religious Interactions
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Historical Methods
Topics: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Materiality and Embodiment, Mysticism, Science Studies

Youssef Carter
Assistant Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Islamic Studies
Regions: Middle East/Africa, North America
Traditions: Islam, Religions of the Black Atlantic/African Diaspora
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Ethnography
Topics: Anthropology of Religion, Mysticism, Race and Ethnicity

Andrea Dara Cooper
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion and Culture
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, North America
Traditions: Judaism
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Animals and Religion, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Jewish Studies

Bart D. Ehrman
James A. Gray Distinguished Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Early Christianity
Methods: Historical Methods, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Biblical Interpretation

Carl W. Ernst
William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Islamic Studies
Regions: Middle East/Africa, South Asia and the Himalayas
Traditions: Islam, Religions of the Black Atlantic/African Diaspora
Methods: Historical Methods, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Mysticism, Race and Ethnicity

Juliane Hammer
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Islamic Studies
Regions: Middle East/Africa, North America
Traditions: Islam
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Ethnography
Topics: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Race and Ethnicity

Joseph Lam
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Judaism
Methods: Philology, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Biblical Interpretation, Jewish Studies

David Lambert
Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Early Christianity, Judaism
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Historical Methods, Philology, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Biblical Interpretation, Jewish Studies, Materiality and Embodiment

Lauren G. Leve
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion and Culture, Religions of Asia
Regions: South Asia and the Himalayas
Traditions: Buddhism and other religions of Asia, Contemporary and Global Christianities
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Ethnography
Topics: Anthropology of Religion, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Materiality and Embodiment

Jodi Magness
Kenan Distinguished Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Greco-Roman Religions, Judaism
Methods: Archaeology, Historical Methods
Topics: Biblical Interpretation, Jewish Studies

Evyatar Marienberg
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Catholicism, Judaism
Methods: Ethnography, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Jewish Studies, Religion and Law

Hugo Méndez
Assistant Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Early Christianity, Orthodox Christianity
Methods: Historical Methods, Philology, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Biblical Interpretation, Materiality and Embodiment

Todd Ramón Ochoa
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion and Culture, Religion in the Americas
Regions: Latin America and the Caribbean, North America
Traditions: Religions of the Black Atlantic/African Diaspora
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Ethnography
Topics: Anthropology of Religion, Materiality and Embodiment, Race and Ethnicity

Zlatko Pleše
Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Early Christianity, Greco-Roman Religions
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Philology, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Biblical Interpretation, Mysticism

Randall G. Styers
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion and Culture
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, North America
Traditions: Contemporary and Global Christianities, Inter-religious Interactions
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Religion and Law, Science Studies

Brendan Jamal Thornton
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion and Culture, Religion in the Americas
Regions: Latin America and the Caribbean
Traditions: Contemporary and Global Christianities, Religions of the Black Atlantic/African Diaspora
Methods: Ethnography
Topics: Anthropology of Religion, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Race and Ethnicity

Waleed Ziad
Assistant Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Islamic Studies
Regions: Middle East/Africa, South Asia and the Himalayas
Traditions: Islam
Methods: Ethnography
Topics: Mysticism, Space and Place

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Topics: Animals & Religion, Anthropology of Religion, Biblical Interpretation, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Jewish Studies, Materiality & Embodiment, Mysticism, Race & Ethnicity, Religion & Law, Science Studies, Space & Place

Barbara Rossetti Ambros
Department Chair, Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religions of Asia
Regions: East Asia
Traditions: Buddhism and other religions of Asia
Methods: Ethnography
Topics: Animals and Religion, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Space and Place

Yaakov Ariel
Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion in the Americas
Regions: Middle East/Africa, North America
Traditions: Contemporary and Global Christianities, Inter-religious Interactions, Judaism
Methods: Historical Methods, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Jewish Studies, Race and Ethnicity

Brandon Bayne
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion in the Americas
Regions: Latin America and the Caribbean, North America
Traditions: Catholicism, Inter-religious Interactions
Methods: Historical Methods, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Materiality and Embodiment, Race and Ethnicity, Space and Place

Jessica A. Boon
Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies

Field(s) of specialization: Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Religion and Culture
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Latin America and the Caribbean
Traditions: Catholicism, Inter-religious Interactions
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Historical Methods
Topics: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Materiality and Embodiment, Mysticism, Science Studies

Youssef Carter
Assistant Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Islamic Studies
Regions: Middle East/Africa, North America
Traditions: Islam, Religions of the Black Atlantic/African Diaspora
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Ethnography
Topics: Anthropology of Religion, Mysticism, Race and Ethnicity

Andrea Dara Cooper
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion and Culture
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, North America
Traditions: Judaism
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Animals and Religion, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Jewish Studies

Bart D. Ehrman
James A. Gray Distinguished Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Early Christianity
Methods: Historical Methods, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Biblical Interpretation

Carl W. Ernst
William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Islamic Studies
Regions: Middle East/Africa, South Asia and the Himalayas
Traditions: Islam, Religions of the Black Atlantic/African Diaspora
Methods: Historical Methods, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Mysticism, Race and Ethnicity

Juliane Hammer
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Islamic Studies
Regions: Middle East/Africa, North America
Traditions: Islam
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Ethnography
Topics: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Race and Ethnicity

Joseph Lam
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Judaism
Methods: Philology, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Biblical Interpretation, Jewish Studies

David Lambert
Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Early Christianity, Judaism
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Historical Methods, Philology, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Biblical Interpretation, Jewish Studies, Materiality and Embodiment

Lauren G. Leve
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion and Culture, Religions of Asia
Regions: South Asia and the Himalayas
Traditions: Buddhism and other religions of Asia, Contemporary and Global Christianities
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Ethnography
Topics: Anthropology of Religion, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Materiality and Embodiment

Jodi Magness
Kenan Distinguished Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Greco-Roman Religions, Judaism
Methods: Archaeology, Historical Methods
Topics: Biblical Interpretation, Jewish Studies

Evyatar Marienberg
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Catholicism, Judaism
Methods: Ethnography, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Jewish Studies, Religion and Law

Hugo Méndez
Assistant Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Early Christianity, Orthodox Christianity
Methods: Historical Methods, Philology, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Biblical Interpretation, Materiality and Embodiment

Todd Ramón Ochoa
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion and Culture, Religion in the Americas
Regions: Latin America and the Caribbean, North America
Traditions: Religions of the Black Atlantic/African Diaspora
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Ethnography
Topics: Anthropology of Religion, Materiality and Embodiment, Race and Ethnicity

Zlatko Pleše
Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, Middle East/Africa
Traditions: Early Christianity, Greco-Roman Religions
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Philology, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Biblical Interpretation, Mysticism

Randall G. Styers
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion and Culture
Regions: Europe and the Mediterranean, North America
Traditions: Contemporary and Global Christianities, Inter-religious Interactions
Methods: Critical Theory and Continental Philosophy, Textual Interpretation
Topics: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Religion and Law, Science Studies

Brendan Jamal Thornton
Associate Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Religion and Culture, Religion in the Americas
Regions: Latin America and the Caribbean
Traditions: Contemporary and Global Christianities, Religions of the Black Atlantic/African Diaspora
Methods: Ethnography
Topics: Anthropology of Religion, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Race and Ethnicity

Waleed Ziad
Assistant Professor

Field(s) of specialization: Islamic Studies
Regions: Middle East/Africa, South Asia and the Himalayas
Traditions: Islam
Methods: Ethnography
Topics: Mysticism, Space and Place

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In addition to pursuing your interests in your concentration through coursework in our department, other UNC departments, and at Duke, students will also receive a broad grounding in Religious Studies as an interdisciplinary field. All incoming students enroll in RELI 700 (“Theory and Method in the Study of Religion”), and all take “gateway” courses that introduce important themes and methodologies relevant to a particular concentration. For more information about coursework, please see the graduate program’s Policies and Procedures.

For more information about language requirements and doctoral exams, please click on the specific concentration above. For more information about the dissertation process and time to degree, please see the graduate program’s Policies and Procedures.

All students must have earned a bachelor’s degree prior to registration. In addition, note that:

  • We admit students for Fall semester only (not for the Spring).
  • We can accept only full-time students who will be in residence.
  • Students admitted to the program who have not already earned an M.A. in the study of religion must earn an M.A. in the Department before advancing to the Ph.D. phase of the program. (We offer the M.A. only as the beginning of work for the Ph.D.; we do not offer a terminal M.A. degree.)
  • Students enrolled in the Department’s M.A. program can petition to enter the Ph.D. program after successful completion of all M.A. requirements, or they may be admitted into the Ph.D. program after successfully petitioning to bypass the M.A. degree. Information about our M.A. requirements, including the process for bypassing the M.A., can be found here.

Because our department is committed to bringing a broad range of perspectives into the study of religion, we particularly encourage applicants from minority perspectives.