Graduate Certificate in Religious Studies (GCRS)


The USC School of Religion offers a Graduate Certificate in Religious Studies (GCRS) to graduate students in any school at USC. The GCRS program allows students across diverse fields in the humanities, social sciences, and professional schools to take advantage of the broad knowledge and expertise of Dornsife’s Religion faculty.


Students interested in pursuing the GCRS should meet with the Director of Graduate Studies to apply to the program and plan a course of study. In addition to taking relevant coursework, candidates must also do one of the following: (1) include the study of religion in their dissertation projects; or (2) take a concluding qualifying oral exam based on three seminars or research papers written in conjunction with their Religion coursework.


Students admitted into the graduate certificate program will be required to complete REL 500 Methods and Theories in the Study of Religion. They must also take 12 units of elective courses from the pre-approved list below. In addition to the courses listed below, others may also be considered for credit on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies. All GCRS courses must be at the 500-level or above, and at least 50% of their content must focus on the study of religion. REL 590 (Directed Research) may not count for more than 4 of these additional 12 units.

  • REL 525 Colloquium in Global Islam
    REL 535 Colloquium in Comparative Christianities
    REL 545 Colloquium in Asia Pacific Religions
    MSCR 570 Foundations of Sacred Music
    JOUR 585 Specialized Reporting: Religion
    REL 590 Directed Research
    REL 592 Professionalization Proseminar in Religious Studies
    REL 593 Practicum in Teaching the Liberal Arts
    REL 599 Special Topics
    EALC 610 Seminar: Buddhism and the Literary Arts
    REL 625 Advanced Graduate Seminar in Global Islam
    REL 626 Seminar in Jewish Ethics
    REL 635 Advanced Graduate Seminar in Comparative Christianities
    REL 645 Advanced Graduate Seminar in Asia Pacific Religions
    REL 650 Readings in Islamic Texts
    REL 651 Readings in Christian Texts
    REL 652 Readings in Buddhist Texts
    REL 653 Readings in Indic Religious Texts
    REL 654 Readings Chinese Religious Texts
    REL 655 Readings in Japanese Religious Texts
    SOWK 682 Spirituality, Religion, and Faith in Clinical Practice

Graduate Certificate in Jewish Studies (GCJS)

Students participating in a Jewish wedding as part of their Jewish studies course.
Students participate in a Jewish wedding as part of their Jewish Studies course.



The Graduate Certificate in Jewish Studies (GCJS) is offered by the School of Religion in USC Dornsife College. The GCJS is designed to give graduate students pursuing research in areas related to Jewish Studies (including Judaism as a religion, Jewish history, Jewish thought, etc.) a solid grounding in the field, as well as mentorship from Jewish Studies faculty. Students enrolled in the Graduate Certificate are also eligible to apply for research funds allocated to this program by the Casden Institute. Students interested in pursuing the program should meet with the GCJS advisor, Prof. Jessica Marglin to apply for the program and to plan a course of study. Contact Prof. Jessica Marglin for more information:


In addition to taking 16 units of relevant course work, candidates are expected to write their PhD dissertations on a topic related to Jewish Studies. However, there are other ways of fulfilling the research requirement of the program, including through an MA thesis or qualifying oral exam in the sub-field of Jewish Studies. Candidates must discuss the research component with the GCJS advisor individually.


Students may be admitted to the program as early as the spring before they begin their doctoral studies at USC. The formal application to the Graduate Certificate in Jewish Studies consists of a letter of intent and a CV. Both should be sent directly to by May 15.

    • Total units Required: 16 units
    • Required course: REL 560 Colloquium in Jewish Studies (4 units)
    • Three additional courses that fulfull the GCJS requirements (12 units) – may select from pre-approved courses, or with prior approval, appropriate 500 level courses from USC and Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion
    • May apply 4 units from a 590 Directed Research course.

    Electives (12 Units)
    Pre-Approved Courses

    HIST 516 Studies in the History of the Holocaust
    HIST 518 Problems in Modern European Jewish History
    HIST 589 Fascism, Nazism, Communism
    JS 501a Bible Texts
    JS 501b Bible Texts
    JS 501c Bible Texts
    JS 504 Modern Hebrew Literature (3 units)
    JS 680 Boundaries of Jewish Normative Behavior
    MUHL 550 Music and the Holocaust (2 units)
    REL 500 Methods and Theories in the Study of Religion

    Additional graduate-level courses at Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion—as well as additional courses at USC may fulfill the GCJS requirements with prior approval from the advisor. No more than one 590 Directed Research course (from any department) may be counted to fulfill the requirements of the GCJS.

For More Information

General Questions

Linda Wootton
825 Bloom Walk
ACB 130
(213) 740-0272


Prof. Lisa Bitel
ACB 126
(213) 740-0272

Director of Graduate Studies

Prof. Cavan Concannon
ACB 426

Administrative Assistant II
Linda Wootton

Project Specialist
Johnna Tyrrell

USC School of Religion

825 Bloom Walk, ACB 130
Los Angeles, CA 90089

Director of Undergraduate Studies
Sheila Briggs

Director of Graduate Studies
Cavan Concannon