See also: General Information | M.A. ProgramFields of Study | SGS Calendar | Graduate Handbook

Graduate Admissions Information Session

We will be hosting an information session on opportunities for graduate education in the Department for the Study of Religion. The Director of Graduate Studies and current graduate students will be on hand to answer your questions about how to submit the best possible application, what to expect in your first year of graduate school, expectations regarding language preparation, and other common questions.

October 17, 2019
11am-12:30 pm

Department for the Study of Religion, 170 St. George St. Room 318

Admission to the Ph.D. Program

At the doctoral level, programs of study are thesis-driven from the point of admission onward. Students are asked when seeking admission, and again at the time of first enrollment, to indicate a possible thesis subject. Extraordinary care is taken to offer admission only to applicants of the highest academic achievement, and whose possible thesis subjects can be matched with the expertise of at least three professors, who will be available for supervisory guidance.

Students thinking of applying for admission to the Department are advised to consider thoroughly the research topics and teaching interests of Department faculty members when formulating their statements of intended study. Consultation of the academic profiles of the Department’s faculty—as annually updated and published on the DSR website and in the Graduate Handbook—is therefore strongly recommended. It may also prove instructive to review the list of completed doctoral theses that Department faculty have supervised, available on our website. Prospective students are also encouraged to make direct contact, by email or telephone, with professors whose research interests appear to correspond or overlap with the intended area of inquiry.

The Department strives to admit the most qualified students, while at the same time securing a manageable distribution of students around a range of topics and areas of specialization. The current policy provides for the admission of  between eight to twelve new doctoral students each year. The effects of these policies may mean that some highly qualified applicants are not offered admission.

Students needing to undertake prerequisite undergraduate work are directed to apply for special student status via the Enrolment Services office, 172 St. George St. , phone: 416 978-2190, email

Students primarily interested in theological study and formation for ministry in one of several Christian traditions are referred to the Toronto School of Theology, 47 Queens Park Crescent East, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2C3, phone: 416-978-4039,  contact via email

Admission Eligibility, Ph.D. Program

To be eligible for admission to the doctoral program, applicants must normally have an M.A. in the academic study of Religion (at least 4Y equivalent), preceded by an appropriate undergaduate degree with specialization in Religion or in cognate subjects, with courses broadly equivalent in number and distribution to the University of Toronto’s Specialist program in Religion (10Y equivalent; see admission to the M.A.). They must also have suitable language preparation and an average of at least A- in their M.A. courses, with no individual grade falling below B. In practice, students admitted tend to have A averages. In interpreting equivalency in an applicant’s previous course work, the Department considers the aggregate of the applicant’s study at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

The Department considers the M.Div. degree to be a professional degree in Theology, and not equivalent to an M.A. in Religion.

Students will need to have language preparation that enables them to meet the language requirements of the doctoral program within the normal expectations of time. In practice this usually means that the students admitted must have already achieved competence in at least one language of modern scholarship and at least one source language where applicable. Students who would like to pursue doctoral studies in Religion in this Department are advised to provide well in advance for appropriate language study in their B.A. and M.A. programs.

In the rare case where a student is admitted without sufficient breadth or quantity of course work in Religion or without appropriate language preparation, she or he will be asked to take additional study, either before admission or during an extended doctoral program as stipulated in the offer of admission.

Application Procedures, Ph.D. Program

Application information, including a link to the online application, is available at Please note that the online application for September 2020 admission will be available as of October 1The Department uses a self-administered application process which includes an online application form.  Applicants are required to complete the online application form, make their application payment, arrange for 3 reference letters, and upload scanned copies of their transcripts.

Complete applications consist of:

1. Scanned copies of all previous post-secondary transcripts

2. A statement (three pages maximum) of proposed study: This must include a statement indicating a possible thesis subject and knowledge of languages, a brief summary of theoretical and methodological training and interests, and an indication of potential committee members, as well as an indication of why the Department is a suitable place for graduate study in the intended area. To the right are statements from successful past applicants.

3. A brief academic CV, with details of education, awards, and other information of academic interest.

4. All doctoral applicants are also requested to submit a brief writing sample of between 20-40 pages.

5. Three reference letters.

Students currently enrolled in the M.A. program of the Department who wish to apply for admission to the Ph.D. program must apply like all other students but are not required to submit transcripts.

Students in graduate programs in other universities who wish to study in the Department may apply through the Ontario Visiting Graduate Student program. Such applications must be accompanied by a supporting letter from the graduate department in the University in which the student is enrolled.

Please note that it is the student’s responsibility to assemble all application materials and ensure that they arrive at the Department by the applications deadline.

English Facility Requirement

If your primary language is not English and you graduated from a non-Canadian university where the language of instruction and examination was not English, then you must demonstrate your facility in English using one of the following methods. This requirement should be met at the time you submit your application.

1. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
2. Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB)
3. International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
4. The Certificate of Proficiency in English (COPE)
5. U of T School of Continuing Studies Academic Preparation Course

For further details  please visit

Application Deadline, Ph.D. Program

The Department admits applicants only in September. The deadline for the receipt of completed applications for the 2020-21 year is December 15, 2019.  Supporting documents must be submitted by December 20, 2019.

Application Timeline

December 15:  Deadline for submission of applications for admission the next September.
Mid January-late February: Department reviews files and makes admission decisions
March 1:  First round of offers sent out
March 31: Deadline for response to first round of offers of admission
Early April: Second round of offers sent out
Mid-late April: Deadline for response to second round of offers of admission
April 30: All final admission decisions will be communicated

The Advising Process, Ph.D. Program

The Department’s advising process starts as soon as a potential student makes contact with the Department. It works intensively through admission and first enrollment, and continues until a student completes the program.

Admissions Advising

The potential student’s first contacts with the Department are usually with the Graduate Administrator. Initial conversations and emails focus on whether the student is prepared for the Department’s program and whether the Centre can supervise the intended subject of study. During the application process the conversation continues, usually expanding to involve the Graduate Director and also possibly professors whose research interests are similar to those of the applicant.

Following acceptance of the offer of admission, the student will be contacted by the Graduate Director—by email or telephone—to begin focused discussion about the student’s program, largely with the aim of establishing a provisional list of suitable faculty members for the student’s Advisory Committee.

Doctoral Advisory Committees

At the start of doctoral studies an Advisory Committee will be established for each incoming student. This committee is usually composed of two or three professors whose interests reflect the student’s prospective areas of scholarly research. The members of Advisory Committees are proposed by the Graduate Director in consultation with the Admissions and Awards Committee, and also with invited input by the student. In general, the Department encourages situations where at least one member of the Advisory committee will hold a primary appointment in the Department of Religion. One member of the Advisory Committee will eventually assume principal advising responsibilities. During a two week period in late August or early September, before the first enrollment in the doctoral program, each student meets at the Department with the designated Advisory Committee and the Graduate Director. The purpose of this meeting is to prepare the student’s Program Memorandum. Advisory Committees may meet at other times as needed, and must file an annual report in the spring (by June 1) regarding student progress in the program. The Advisory Committee continues to assist the student and often remains as the Doctoral Supervisory Committee for the dissertation, unless a change in committee members occurs.

Doctoral Supervisory Committees

Thesis Supervisory Committees emerge as students move toward the preparation of the thesis proposal. The members of these new committees may, but need not, include members of the established Advisory Committees. Supervisory Committees consist of three members of the Graduate Faculty of the University of Toronto. These members are the Supervisor and two other professors who are qualified to offer expert advice in the proposed area of research. Working in consultation with the Graduate Director, students have free choice of Supervisor, and are responsible for securing the agreement of the professor who is to act in that capacity. The other two members are chosen jointly by the student, the Supervisor, and the Graduate Director. Supervisory Committees assist students in preparing the pre-proposal statement, the general exams, and the Thesis Proposal.

Upon completion of course requirements the Supervisory Committee and the Graduate Director will reconvene with the student to approve the Thesis Pre-Proposal and to make arrangements for the General Examinations. Supervisory Committees will meet shortly thereafter to conduct the General Examinations. Within three months of completing the exams, the student will submit a full Thesis Proposal to the .Supervisory Committee, who will then oversee the preparation of the thesis, meeting regularly with the student to evaluate and guide the dissertation work as it proceeds.  Each Supervisory Committee must meet at least once annually with the student, prior to June 1, and complete and file an assessment of student progress.  Please note that failure to submit this report in a timely fashion may affect student status and/or funding.

Changes in the membership of a student’s Supervisory Committee may be made by the Graduate Director, acting upon the request of the student or members of the Supervisory Committee. Changes of Supervisor and/or changes in the thesis topic after the approval of the Thesis Proposal may require a new thesis proposal, and possible additions to the student’s program in keeping with the Department’s general requirements for the doctorate. Such changes need approval according to the same process wherein the original requirements were decided.

Degree Requirements, Ph.D. Program

The Calendar of the School of Graduate Studies contains the regulations governing graduate study and degrees. The section on the Study of Religion specifies the regulations applicable to graduate study and degrees in the Centre. This Graduate Handbook elaborates on the information published in the Calendar.

The Ph.D. program is thesis-oriented, and has nine components: (1) courses, (2) languages, (3) thesis pre-proposal, (4) general examinations, (5) thesis proposal, (6) colloquium requirement, (7) dissertation, (8) final oral examination, and (9) professionalization seminar.

Decisions about the contents of the student’s program, notably the courses to be taken and languages required, are made jointly by the student’s Advisory Committee and the Graduate Director. Decisions are made in full consultation with the student and under the direction provided by the student’s projected thesis subject. These decisions are to be recorded in the student’s Program Memorandum. Any important changes in a student’s plan of study are to be recorded in a revised or amended memorandum.

The Program Memorandum identifies the following: (1) a projected thesis subject; (2) a designated area of research specialization, and at least one cognate area or field, each to be subsequently covered in the General Examinations; (3) the specific languages required for the thesis research, and such as might be recommended for general study; and (4) the courses that are to be taken.

1. Courses

As of September 2013, students must complete a minimum of FOUR full-year graduate courses, or the equivalent combination of half-year courses. This total will include: (1) the mandatory RLG 1000Y Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, and (2) at least one half-course in a subject other than that designated as the subject of specialization, usually in the cognate subject.

In some cases, students will be required to take additional courses, either to meet the needs of their proposed subjects of study, or to fulfil prerequisites as stipulated in their offer of admission.

RLG 1000Y is the Department’s doctoral seminar on Method and Theory in the Study of Religion. Successful completion of the course satisfies the Department’s expectation that all doctoral students be professionally conversant with the general issues of interpretation, explanation, and analysis that orient the academic study of religion. This course is thus foundationally preparatory for
the epistemological challenges that will be encountered in the research process that leads to the production of an original dissertation. The Department thus regards any previous study of method and theory in a student’s career to be a benefit, rather than a reason for exemption from the seminar.

Undergraduate courses and TST Basic Degree courses, and any courses not taught by a member of U of T’s Graduate Faculty, may be included in a student’s Ph.D. program as prerequisite or extra courses, but they may not count as courses fulfilling the normal course requirements.

2. Languages

Students are required to give evidence of reading knowledge of at least TWO languages, in addition to English, selected from languages of modern scholarship and necessary source languages, provided that at least one shall be a language of modern scholarship. The language requirements must be fulfilled before writing the General Examinations. Doctoral students are normally required to fulfill their language requirements by passing examinations that are conducted by the Department. Students who have fulfilled the appropriate language requirements in the Department’s M.A. program may be exempted from taking further examination in those languages.

In addition to the required languages, there may be another language or two recommended for scholarship in the projected thesis subject. More information on language examinations can be found starting on page 41 of the handbook.

3. Thesis Pre-Proposal

Upon nearing the completion of their course work and before writing their General Examinations, students must submit a brief statement (two pages) of their intended thesis topic to their Advisory Committee and the Graduate Director for approval. The approved statement with the accompanying approval form must be submitted to the Graduate Administrator. The statement should contain two specifications:

1. A brief statement of the prospective thesis topic, with an indication of the expected contribution to the study of religion;

2. The names of three professors (the intended Supervisor and two other members of the Supervisory Committee), with brief indications of how the expertise of each one will contribute to the study of the topic.

This preliminary drafting of the proposal, will also prove of value in the competitive application for fellowships, scholarships, and research grants.

4. General Examinations

At a meeting in the second year of the student’s program, the Advisory Committee along with the Graduate Director, in consultation with the student, determines the arrangements for the student’s General Examinations. The “Meeting to Plan the General Examination” form should be completed at this time and submitted to the Graduate Administrator.

The purpose of the General Examinations is to assess the student’s readiness to begin work on the thesis topic, as defined in the approved thesis proposal.  Students are encouraged to draw upon their coursework to develop reading lists, and to begin formulating their lists, in consultation with committee members, as early as possible. The examinations are expected to be scheduled sometime during the second year, and completed by the winter term in the third year of study.

The General Examinations cover two subjects:

a) the specialization: a field or research area broader than the thesis topic, from out of which the proposed topic arises;

b) at least one important cognate subject: a subject related to, but different from, the specialization, and that offers significant support—theoretical, methodological, substantive—to the thesis topic.

There must be at least three examiners (usually the Supervisory Committee), with at least two examiners in the subject of specialization, and at least one in the cognate subject. There are normally two reading lists of moderate length, one for the specialization and one for the cognate subject. The examiners and the student together define the specific focus and parameters of the examinations and design the reading lists. The lists are thus jointly created through discussions between the student and the respective examiners. These Examination reading lists typically include the student’s previous readings relevant to the subjects chosen, and any additional titles that the examiners deem necessary for the student’s preparation for the examination and pending thesis research.

The General Examinations include both written and oral components. The student should take both components within a period of no more than four weeks. Specific guidelines regarding the General Examinations will be made available to the student and the Supervisory Committee, once a notice of intent for examination is given to the Graduate Administrator by the student. Examinations normally take place at the Department.

The written examinations are set by the examiners, with an equal contribution of questions by each member of the committee. These exams are to be answered by the student without aids, unless aids are specifically designated by the examiners. The Specialization Exam is to be written in THREE HOURS, and the Cognate Exam in TWO HOURS. The Department adds an extra hour in each case for the collecting of one’s thoughts. All examiners read both the Specialist and the Cognate examinations. Upon the assessment of each written exam, the examiners who set the exam report to the Department whether the examination is an overall ‘pass’ or not, and award a provisional letter grade for the portion each has individually set. If the written work is judged as an overall ‘pass’, then the oral examination proceeds as scheduled.

The Oral Examination is conducted equally by all examiners and is chaired by the Supervisor; it is to be completed within a TWO HOUR session. Questioning is to be based primarily on the student’s written answers, but may extend to other matters contained in the reading lists agreed upon. Entirely new matters unrelated to the written papers or the reading lists are not to be introduced.

At the end of the Oral Examination, the examiners are asked to decide whether the student’s work in the General Examinations—encompassing both the written and oral components—should be graded ‘pass’, ‘conditional pass’, or ‘fail’. For the records of the Department, examiners are also asked to submit a final letter grade. Conditional Pass means that the examination will be regarded as a Pass if the student successfully fulfills certain written conditions by a stipulated date. If the conditions are not met, the examination is downgraded to Fail. A student receiving ‘fail’ for a part or for the whole of the examination may be re-examined once, provided the examination takes place not later than nine months after the date of the first examination. Any examiner, or the student in consultation with the Graduate Director, may request a further reader/examiner for part or all of the written examination, when there is reason to think this would be helpful.

5. Thesis Proposal

Within three months of successfully completing the General Examinations, the students must submit a written Thesis Proposal.

The thesis proposal—about 10-15 pages of text, plus a bibliographical supplement—must be submitted, to include the following SIX specifications:

1. A working title
2. A concise statement of the thesis topic and the relation of the topic to scholarship in the field
3. A discussion of the principal sources and the methods of inquiry to be used.
4. The reasons for believing that the thesis will “constitute a significant contribution to the knowledge of the field” (SGS Calendar)
5. An outline of expected chapters
6. A brief bibliography listing the more important sources and scholarly works to be consulted.

In composing the Thesis Proposal, a student should consult closely with the Supervisor and the two other Supervisory Committee members. After the Committee members have given their comments on drafts of the proposal, the  student submits a final draft to the Supervisory Committee. When the proposal is finished, the Supervisory Committee meets to give final approval on the Thesis Proposal. The student must give two copies of the approved thesis proposal to the Graduate Administrator, one for the student’s record and the second for deposit in the public binder of thesis proposals.

Under University policy, thesis research that involves the use of human subjects, as, for instance, in the case of informants, interview subjects, or survey respondents, requires the approval in advance of the University’s Review Committee on the Use of Human Subjects. Students may secure the application forms for such a review at the Department office.

6. Colloquium Participation

RLG4004H is the Department’s Colloquium Participation credit. Once General Exams are completed, candidates in the PhD program are required to participate at least once in the Department for the Study of Religion’s colloquium before undertaking their final oral exam. The colloquium participation is recorded as a credit/non credit on the transcript.

7. Doctoral Dissertation

Upon successful completion of the General Examinations and the thesis proposal, the student proceeds to the preparation of a doctoral dissertation in keeping with the approved proposal. The dissertation must embody the results of original investigation, and constitute a significant contribution to the knowledge of the subject. The dissertation must be defended with the examiners at a final oral examination.

The Supervisor is responsible for the direction of the dissertation, while the two other Supervisory Committee members are responsible for giving advice about the dissertation. The student should keep all three members informed of the progress of the work, preferably by the timely and periodic presentation of drafts of any work provisionally completed. Supervisory Committees are required to meet collectively with the student at least once a year, and to provide an annual report on dissertation progress to the Graduate Administrator by June 1. The student is responsible for convening this meeting.

8. Final Oral Examination

When the Supervisor and the other Supervisory Committee members have read the dissertation in its entirety and agree that the dissertation is ready to go to examination, all three professors are required to notify the Graduate Administrator and the Departmental Officer of this in writing, THREE MONTHS prior to the planned date of the defense of the dissertation. At this time, the Supervisor provides to the Graduate Director a short list of potential external examiners and their contact information. The Supervisor must certify that the proposed External Appraiser is a recognized expert on the subject of the dissertation, has the necessary academic qualifications to appraise a doctoral dissertation, and has an arm’s-length relation both with the candidate and with the supervisor.

The student then brings to the Graduate Administrator five copies of the following: (1) the completed dissertation; (2) an abstract of the dissertation; and (3) an updated academic CV.

When the Department receives the approvals and these materials, the process to arrange the final dissertation oral examination begins. Normally a period of TWELVE WEEKS is required between when the student brings the dissertation to the Department and the date of the examination. The Department certifies to the School of Graduate Studies that all requirements except the dissertation examination have been completed.

Working in consultation with the Supervisor, the student, and others as necessary, the Graduate Director sets the examination date and nominates the examiners to SGS. The Department normally nominates five examiners, as follows: the Supervisor; the two other members of the student’s Supervisory Committee; another member of the graduate faculty not connected with the dissertation, whether in the Department or not; and the External Examiner. The External Examiner prepares a written assessment that must be submitted to the Department at least two weeks in advance of the examination. This written appraisal is then given immediately to the student and all examiners, prior to the examination. It is expected that the examiners will not discuss the appraisal with the student before the examination.

The procedures for the dissertation examination are described in the SGS Calendar and can be found at  After the successful defense of the dissertation and completion of any required corrections or modifications specified at the defense, the dissertation is submitted electronically to SGS (for details see   One bound copy should also be delivered to the Department for the Study of Religion dissertation library.

9. Professionalisation Seminar

All students are enrolled in SRD4444Y: Professionalisation Seminar when they enter the program.  To complete this requirement, students must participate in a series of workshops offered throughout the year.  The total number of workshops required for the successful completion of the seminar is 12.  Students are encouraged to attend workshops on pedagogy and grant writing in their first or second year, and workshops on the academic job market in their fourth or fifth year.

Registration and Enrollment in the PhD Program

Registration materials are mailed during the summer by the School of Graduate Studies to all new and returning students. Students register by paying their fees or by completing a “Request to Register without Payment” form.

New Ph.D. students: New Ph.D. students must meet with the Graduate Director and their Advisory Committees during the late August/September enrollment period to prepare their doctoral programs and to complete their enrollment form.

Returning students: Returning Ph.D. students taking course work and language study should meet with the Graduate Administrator during the enrollment period if they have any questions about their program.

T-Cards: New students must obtain a T-card, which serves as a student identification and library card. T-cards are issued at Robarts Library upon presentation of appropriate identification and documentation. For information, consult the library website at:

Course Timetable: During the summer, the Department publishes a timetable of all graduate courses to be offered in the coming academic year by graduate faculty members of the Department (including cross-listings with cognate departments). The list will also include courses that have received approval too late to be published in the Handbook or the SGS Calendar. The timetable is posted on the Department’s web site.  Directed Reading courses meet according to the arrangements made with the professor in charge.

Other courses: Students are eligible to take any course offered in the School of Graduate Studies for which they have prerequisite knowledge, on condition that the instructors and departments offering the courses grant permission. Students are also eligible to take a course offered in the Toronto School of Theology (TST), provided it is an Advanced Degree course (5000 level only), and is taught by a TST faculty member who is also a member of the Graduate Faculty of SGS. For purposes of SGS registration, such a course is assigned the Centre designation RLG 4000/4001 (Directed Reading: TST Seminar).

Time and Progress in the Ph.D. Program

Timetable: The timetable provided below indicates the “normal expectations” for completion of the various components of the doctoral program.

Year 1
Sept  Enrollment and Program Memorandum

Sept-May Courses (summer courses also possible)

Oct-Nov SSHRC applications due

Sept/Jan/April Language Examinations

May OGS applications due

Year 2
Sept-May Courses (summer courses also possible)

Oct-Nov SSHRC applications due

Sept/Jan/April Language Examinations

May  OGS applications due

Attend professionalization seminar series which focuses on pedagogical strategies,grant writing, and course design

Thesis Pre-Proposal

Preparation for and Scheduling of General Examinations

Year 3
Students must complete their General Examinations by the end of Year 3. In extraordinary circumstances a petition can be made for a two term extension.

Thesis Proposal due within 3 months of General Exams.

Year 4
Attend professionalization seminar series which focuses on pedagogical strategies, grant  writing, and course design

Dissertation Research/Writing (in ongoing consultation with the  Supervisory Committee)

Years 5 (6)
Dissertation Research/Writing (in ongoing consultation with the  Supervisory Committee)

Satisfactory Progress: Under the funding policy of the University, doctoral students are expected to complete the components of their degree requirements in a timely manner. Supervisory Committees are required to review, assess, and report to the Department on this matter. An annual progress report, using the standard forms available, must be submitted to the Department by June 1.

Time limit: The time limit for the completion of all requirements for the doctorate, including submission of the thesis, is SIX YEARS.

Expiration: If a doctoral student has not achieved candidacy by the end of third year they will not be allowed further registration unless an extension is requested and approved.

Extensions: Incoming PhD students will no longer have the option to lapse their registration. Instead, students can apply to extend their registration beyond the time limit for their program for up to four years. Fees charged during this extension period will be calculated at the rate of 50% of the annual domestic fee. Continuing students beyond year 7  will be eligible to “opt into” the new extension arrangements or lapse and seek reinstatement.

Maternity and Parental Leave: Students are able to take maternity and parental leave according to the regulations published in the SGS handbook.

Funding, Ph.D. Program

Decisions about funding are made by the Department’s Committee on Admissions and Awards, and implemented by the Graduate Director, in keeping with policies established by the Department. The Department offers workshops on grant-writing in September of each year, and the University also offers a range of very helpful grant-writing workshops. See

Each Fall, the Committee creates ranked lists of all the applicants for doctoral fellowships awarded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.  Ontario Graduate Scholarships are ranked in the spring. These rankings serve throughout the year as a guide for all decisions about individual funding and awards that lie within the jurisdiction of the Department. Rankings reflect the Committee’s assessment of student records based on academic merit.

The information that follows identifies the primary sources of funding available. For additional information about financial support, students should visit the Office of Fellowships and Loans of the School of Graduate Studies and consult the SGS Calendar.

Doctoral Fellowship and TA Component

The Department for the Study of Religion participates in the program for the funding of graduate students initiated by the University of Toronto in 2001.

The Department has chosen to fit into the University’s funding program by continuing its established policy of directing the available resources to doctoral students. The Department’s position is that doctoral students are emerging scholars.  As such, they should have the freedom to devote themselves to their studies for an allotted period of years without serious financial handicap, and they should be encouraged to proceed through their studies in a timely fashion.

The University of Toronto offers to all incoming doctoral students a guaranteed funding package for 5 years of academic study, contingent upon the maintenance of good academic standing. This financial support package can be comprised of two basic components: an annual Fellowship Grant, and a contracted Teaching Assistantship or Course Instructorship, (and may include a Research Assistantship). This funding package is marginally adjusted annually by the University, in light of cost of living, tuition, and budgetary considerations. It is broadly calculated that following the payment of tuition and incidental fees, a doctoral student will have approximately $15,000 for annual living expenses.

The standard TA contract will assume a commitment of 205 hours per annum. The Department makes every effort to curtail TA responsibilities during the first year of study, and to this end a reduced number of TA hours are sometimes offered to first year students.

One major pedagogical objective of the Department is to prepare students for future academic careers in religious studies programs, and towards that end we try to ensure that each of our students is afforded at least one year experience as a Teaching Assistant in the World Religions course, RLG 100/280Y.

Within the University’s funding program, financial packages for doctoral students are typically put together from three sources: 1) External fellowships and scholarships from university-wide, national, provincial, and international programs; 2) the University of Toronto Doctoral Fellowship; and 3) Teaching Assistantships or Course Instructorship (and may include Research Assistantships). The basic formula includes a set amount plus the payment of all university and student fees, in addition to health insurance for international students who are not eligible for the provincial health insurance enjoyed in Canada.

In keeping with this funding policy, all eligible doctoral students in the funded cohort are required to apply each year for competitive external fellowships, most notably the Ontario Graduate Scholarship and, for those eligible, the doctoral fellowship of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

University of Toronto Doctoral Fellowships

The Department awards this University fellowship to all eligible doctoral students in their first five years of study. The doctoral fellowship is a funding package that includes a Teaching Assistantship and may include a variety of other awards and scholarships.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowships (SSHRC and CGSD)

Canadian students and landed immigrants are eligible to apply for these awards, worth about $20,000 (or $35,000 for CGSD), funded by the Government of Canada. Application packets are available by September on the SSHRC web site at  .  Applicants from outside the University of Toronto should apply through their home departments, or directly to SSHRC in Ottawa.

Ontario Graduate Scholarships (OGS)

The Government of Ontario offers a number of these scholarships each year, currently worth $15,000. Most of the awards are reserved for Canadian citizens or landed immigrants who are residents of Ontario, although a small number are awarded to students from other provinces and from outside Canada. Information is available at

Connaught Fellowships

These highly prized fellowships are awarded by the School of Graduate Studies to selected incoming international students with outstanding records who have applied for graduate study. Candidates are nominated by the Department and selected in an SGS competition. There is no separate application for these awards.  The value of the award is $35,000 and is renewable for 5 years.

Mary H. Beatty Fellowships

These distinctions are awarded by SGS to incoming graduate students who have been selected for a SSHRC award. There is no separate application for this award.

Molly Spitzer Scholarship

The Molly Spitzer Scholarship is normally awarded annually by the Department to a Department student whose principal subject of study is Judaism. The value of this award is the annual income of the fund, currently about $2,000. Students apply for this award in early March by letter to the Graduate Director.

Jackman Humanities Institute Graduate Fellows

The Jackman Humanities Institute offers substantial fellowships for a limited number of Ph.D. candidates registered in the Faculty of Arts and Science who are in the final stages of their doctoral program and completing their doctoral dissertation. Each year, up to two graduate students may be nominated from each department or academic unit.


Teaching Assistantships: Teaching Assistants work closely with professors in connection with undergraduate instruction in the Department. Their duties usually involve grading papers and examinations, and in some cases leading weekly tutorial sections. In the Department, Teaching Assistantships (normally of between 140-205 hours) are included in the funding package during years 1 to 5. It is expected that students will TA for RLG100Y/280Y at least once. Available positions are publicized starting in June, and doctoral students are asked to make their preferences known by completing the new TA Application Form online.   Under the University funding policy, if the Department offers a TAship to a student, and the student elects to decline the offer, the student’s funding will be reduced by the amount of the TAship. Under current union agreements, a student who is appointed to one TAship will receive five additional TAships of the same value or higher in successive years, providing the student is still enrolled in graduate study.

Research Assistantships: Departmental Faculty members occasionally make available research assistantships which students are encouraged to inquire about and apply for.

Course Instructors: Each year the Department for the Study of Religion has a few openings available for contracted undergraduate teaching. The undergraduate and graduate programmes of the Department work together to offer these appointments, whenever possible, to our recent doctoral graduates as well as to advanced doctoral students who have attained PhD candidacy. These positions are posted in the Department in the Spring.

Other Funding Opportunities

Doctoral Completion Award

The DCA will be run as a competition and will be available for doctoral students in the first year beyond the funded cohort. Both domestic and international students are eligible to apply and should submit their application to the Graduate Administrator by the appropriate deadline. The value of the award is determined by available funds.


Students who meet the eligibility requirements may apply for Work-Study positions offered by the Department or by individual professors. In recent years some Research Assistantships have been available under Work-Study. Notices are posted at the Department as well as on the website of the University’s Career Centre:

School of Graduate Studies Emergency Grant Program

SGS offers grants based on financial need arising from unforeseen circumstances. The SGS Committee is particularly inclined to assist students who are nearing completion of their doctoral thesis. Grants are not normally available for the first year of study. Information is available at SGS and application is made through them.

SGS Travel Grants

The SGS research travel grant is available to help fund travel for doctoral students for whom travel is essential for the completion of their research and doctoral program. Travel to conferences is not eligible within this grant.  Not all projects are funded and the funding awarded may not cover the entire amount requested by the applicant.  The deadline is generally late April and application is made directly to SGS.

Department Travel Grants

The Department has a small trust fund that provides modest grants to graduate students who present papers at academic conferences. Application is made prior to the conference through the Chair of the Department for the Study of Religion. Application forms are on the Religion website.

FAS Language Study Abroad grants

FAS has established a fund to enable graduate students to study a language necessary for their research, and which is not regularly taught at the U of T. Students are awarded travel, accommodation, and tuition costs for study at an appropriate institution. Since the total amount available is limited, the grants to individual graduate students will be awarded by a competitive process run by the Dean´s Advisory Committee on Languages.

Junior Fellowships and Donships

Several of the colleges affiliated with the University of Toronto offer positions as Junior Fellows and Dons, for which Centre students have been particularly successful. Interested students should inquire at Massey, Trinity, Victoria, St. Michael’s, Wycliffe, New, Innis, and University colleges.