Early Christianity

J. Warren Smith, convener

The Ph.D. program in Early Christianity prepares students for academic careers in teaching and research or for other professional work for which strong competence in this field would be important.

Core Faculty

J. Warren Smith

Luk Van Rompay

Requirements for the Major


  1. Demonstration by exam and course-work of reading fluency in Greek and Latin. For those intending to work in the fields of Eastern Christianity, a third language will be required, to be chosen among: Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Arabic, Ethiopic.

  2. Demonstration by exam of reading competency in German and French (or a substitute modern European language).

Course Load and Requirements

The normal course load is three advanced courses per semester. Students entering directly from an undergraduate program will normally complete six semesters of course work, consisting primarily of doctoral seminars.

Internal Minor

Choosing another field within the Graduate  Program in Religion, students must take a minimum of two courses or fulfill the requirements specified for minors in that field.

External Minor

Choosing another department or program within the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, students must take a minimum of two courses relevant to their specialization. It is expected that the instructor of one of these courses will administer the Preliminary Exam in the external minor and serve on the Dissertation Committee.

Preliminary Exams

There are one oral and four written components. The written components are:

  1. general examination (Christianity from the second to the seventh centuries), with the focus of the examination on the areas of the student's interest
  2. internal minor
  3. external minor
  4. dissertation area.

The oral component reviews all four of the written exams.


After successful completion of Preliminary Exams, a Doctoral Committee will be formed that will

  1. guide the student in submitting an acceptable dissertation proposal to the Committee on Doctoral Committees
  2. supervise the writing of the dissertation
  3. conduct the final oral defense of the dissertation

Requirements for a Minor

To complement their related fields of academic pursuit, all minors must pass a minimum of two courses and a Preliminary Exam based on a bibliography developed in consultation with a faculty member affiliated with the field of Early Christianity.

The distribution of courses follows:

  1. demonstration of reading competence in one of the relevant Early Christian languages
  2. a minimum of two courses relevant to the student's program chosen in consultation with the faculty member.