University of Pittsburgh
three small photographs depicting various religious icons

Department of Religious Studies



The University of Pittsburgh is a major research institution located in a dynamic and affordable urban setting with easy access to the rivers and mountains of southwestern Pennsylvania.

The Department of Religious Studies is located at the heart of the lower campus on the 26th floor of the historic landmark Cathedral of Learning with its internationally renowned Nationality Classrooms now representing the heritages of 28 nations, three-story Commons Room, panoramic view of the city, and two resident peregrine falcons. We overlook Schenley Park and Plaza; Heinz Memorial Chapel; Phipps Conservatory; and the Carnegie Library, Museum of Art, and Museum of Natural History.

Hildesheim Synagogue, Germany

The department has a seminar room, reading room, and computer-equipped graduate student lounge. Pitt provides Wireless PittNet access campus-wide; computing labs in many buildings, including Hillman Library and the Cathedral of Learning; and a 24/7 computer Help Desk (412.624.HELP).

Libraries and Museums

Pitt's University Library System contains some 4.5 million volumes, 40,000 periodicals, 40,000 full-text electronic journals, 238,000 electronic books, and 77,000 film and video materials. ULS includes Hillman Library, which contains some 1.5 million volumes and 4,000 journal subscriptions focused primarily on the humanities and social sciences, extensive collections of digital databases and media resources, and a variety of special collections including the Alliance College Polish Collection, Hoffman Judaic Collection, and East Asian Library, ranked 14th among collections in North America with nearly 400,000 titles in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages, more than 900 periodical titles, and 12 major area studies online databases. Hillman houses open stacks, carrels for graduate students, study rooms, and the Cup & Chaucer Lounge. The Digital Research Library includes visual and textual collections ranging from 19th century schoolbooks and historic Pittsburgh to the Chartres Cathedral and Vézelay Abbey to contemporary Chinese culture.

Frick Fine Arts Library includes works on religious art and architecture with holdings of more than 85,000 volumes and 350 journal subscriptions. Finney Music Library includes collections of Early American hymnals and tunebooks and 17th and 18th century prints of English sacred works and holds approximately 65,000 music scores and books, 25,000 sound recordings, 1,500 microforms, and 150 journals.

The religious studies bibliographer is Laurie Cohen (G-20Y Hillman Library, 412.648.7731). Visit her Web page for useful reference sources on the Internet.

Our students also have access to the Barbour Library of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (PTS), which has a collection of more than 400,000 cataloged items, mainly in Protestant theology, Biblical studies, and church history, and includes the John M. Mason Memorial Collection of classical theological works dating from the Reformation and the James Warrington Collection of hymnology. The Kelso Bible Lands Museum at PTS holds extensive collections of artifacts, archival materials, and slides relating to archaeology and biblical studies. Seminary-sponsored excavations of Bab Edh Dhra, Tell Beit Mirsim, Bethel, Tulul El Alayiq, and Tel Zayit form the core of the collection.

The main branch of the Carnegie Library and the Carnegie Museum of Art are located across the street from campus.

Interdisciplinary Programs

The University of Pittsburgh is a pioneer in interdisciplinary education and international studies and has numerous programs that support the study of religion. Students in religious studies are encouraged to earn certificates in these programs, many of which offer fellowships and awards open to our graduate students.

The University Center for International Studies houses federally funded area studies centers that offer programs, certificates, and generous funding for graduate student language study and research. Funding is also available to undergraduates. Visit the Asian Studies Center, Center for Latin American Studies, Center for Russian and East European Studies, and European Studies Center. Other interdisciplinary certificate programs that support religious studies are Cultural Studies, Film Studies, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and Women’s Studies. Limited support is also available through Global Studies and Jewish Studies.

The City is our Campus

Students enrolled at Pitt may cross-register for courses at Carnegie Mellon University, a short walk from campus, and the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, a short bus ride away.

Pittsburgh is also home to a wide variety of religious, ethnic, and immigrant communities and its many vibrant churches, temples, synagogues, and mosques reflect that diversity. Students have opportunities to conduct ethnographic research on many denominations of Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, Protestantism, and Judaism, and on Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Mormonism, and Baha’i.

Study and Research Abroad

Students at the University of Pittsburgh have numerous opportunities for study and research abroad. Many religious studies undergraduates spend some time studying in other countries. Graduate students in subfields such as religion in East Asia, East and West Europe and the Middle East are also expected to conduct research abroad. Visit the Study Abroad Office, University Center for International Studies, and Nationality Rooms.

Gateway to the Profession (GAP)

The Department of Religious Studies provides a range of activities and opportunities to assist in making the transition from graduate student to assistant professor. GAP is a "how-to" program designed to fill in the gaps in such areas as syllabus design, implementation, and teaching; thesis, dissertation, and grant proposal writing; conference participation and presentation; publishing; and job placement. The program generally helps students to build a dossier and prepare to enter the profession.

Throughout the year, graduate students participate in an ongoing series of informational and instructional seminars led by members of the faculty. Depending on the student’s stage in the program, these meetings should lead to the creation and critique of instructional materials and lectures, research and grant proposals, job application documentation, and other benchmarks.

Students participate in the department monthly colloquium series. In addition to hosting guest speakers, this forum serves as a venue to preview conference presentations and job talks, and, in general, provides opportunities for advanced students to share their research and for all students to learn more about faculty and peer projects.

The department also provides support in the following areas:

  • Travel to participate in academic conferences
  • Limited support for research travel
  • Guided teaching assistantships
  • Stand alone teaching opportunities: Students who have been admitted to candidacy are eligible to teach courses of their own design.
  • Job interview preparation
Fellowships and Financial Support

Visit Fellowships and Financial Support for a comprehensive listing of department, University, and external fellowships for full-time study, language study, conference participation, and pre-dissertation and dissertation research.

More Resources

Revised 08/27/10 | Copyright 2007 | Site by UMC WebTeam