Religion in the Americas

Associated Faculty:

Wallace Best

Seth Perry

Garry Sparks

Nicole Myers Turner

Judith Weisenfeld



Graduate students concentrating in the field of Religion in the Americas examine the history of religious thought, institutions, movements, symbols, performances, and lived religious experience in the Americas. Students may also consider aspects of religious life in the contemporary Americas from an historically-informed perspective.

The General Examination includes four units. Two of these systematically cover American religious history and historiography from colonial contact to the twenty-first century. The third examination takes the form of a paper that demonstrates facility with primary sources in light of the historiography of a particular period. The fourth General Examination is a historiographical and methodological essay that is intended to establish the groundwork for a dissertation prospectus.

For the dissertation, students devise an area of research in consultation with faculty.

All degree candidates are expected to have a reading knowledge of the two modern foreign languages most appropriate to their fields of concentration. The choice of languages should be made in consultation with advisers and the rest of the subfield faculty. “This requirement may be fulfilled by successfully completing summer language courses offered by the University, by passing proficiency tests given administered by the language departments, or by providing a transcript of successful completion of language study in the context of coursework at the M.A. level.” All entering students are strongly urged to achieve competence in at least one of the required languages before matriculation. If an additional language is required for advanced work in the student’s field of specialty, they are expected to demonstrate competence prior to undertaking dissertation work.

Candidates are expected to control both the historical and social-scientific literatures in their fields of specialized research and to develop methodological expertise relevant to their dissertation work. Students in this subfield are encouraged to work with professors in various other departments at Princeton, including AnthropologyHistory, and Sociology. They also draw upon the resources of interdisciplinary programs such as the Center for African American Studies, the Program in American Studies, the Program in Judaic Studies, the Program in Latin American Studies, the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, and the Center for the Study of Religion.

For additional information about the Religion in the Americas subfield, download our brochure.