From its beginning, the Graduate Division of Religion has pursued its vision of collaboration, interdisciplinarity, connection to a wider conversation in the humanities, diversity and, now, an emphasis on religious practices. At present, the GDR is home to some 60 faculty teaching across nine courses of study; approximately 150 students pursuing the doctor of philosophy (PhD) degree; an innovative multimedia journal, Practical Matters; the Initiative in Religious Practices and Practical Theology, which promotes research projects, consultations, and interdisciplinary work on religious practices that engage the wider public and promote teaching of the practical theological disciplines for future generations of scholars; and the Initiative in Religion, Conflict, and Peacbuilding, which draws on Emory’s distinctive resources to address the ways in which religion is related to conflict and peace building by undertaking work on different religious traditions and geographic locations, focusing on textual analysis, historical research, analysis of practices, or ethnographic research.

The GDR enjoys a rich relationship with the wider Emory community. Interdisciplinary work has been and continues to be at the center of our common life. All faculty hold primary appointments in other schools, departments, or units of the university, and the GDR has a presence in all of the signature institutions of Emory.

Core Values of Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion

• enduring power of religious cultures

• scholarly creativity

• interdisciplinarity

• diversity

Graduate Division of Religion at a Glance

• part of the Laney Graduate School 

• draws mainly on the resources of Emory College Department of Religion and Candler School of Theology, in addititon to other schools and departments at Emory

• second-largest doctoral program at Emory

• 60 faculty 

• 9 courses of study

• approximately 150 students pursuing a PhD in religion

• home to Practical Matters, an innovative multimedia journal

• ranked among the nation’s top doctoral programs in religion by the National Research Council


The origins of the Graduate Division of Religion date to 1956, when William Ragsdale Cannon, then dean of Candler School of Theology helped launch a PhD program in religion in concert with the Department of Religion at Emory College. Since 1959 the GDR has enrolled students pursuing the PhD.

The GDR has awarded more than 500 PhDs over its history. Our graduates have occupied professorships and positions of leadership in colleges, universities, and seminaries throughout the United States and abroad.

As one of the oldest doctoral programs at Emory, the GDR has grown with Emory’s Laney Graduate School.