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About UVA Mormon Studies

Our Mormon Studies program began in 2013 with the establishment of the Richard Lyman Bushman Professorship. Now, with the largest Mormon Studies Collection outside of Utah, a nationally esteemed lecture series, and fellowships supporting archival research, UVA has emerged as one of the leading sites to study Mormonism worldwide.

About the Department of Religious Studies

UVA Mormon Studies is located within the Department of Religious Studies. Founded in 1967, it is the largest stand-alone religion department in the United States and plays a leading role in the national and international study of religion. Rooted in the humanities and liberal arts, its faculty offer a comprehensive curriculum that spans traditions, geographies, and methodologies.

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Studying Mormonism at UVA

Although UVA does not offer degrees in Mormon Studies, the Department of Religious Studies does offer a wide range of courses that explore Mormonism alongside other religions and from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

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The Mormon experience is an important part of the American religious story. And, it's an experience today's scholars are increasingly interested in exploring. UVA's Mormon Studies program has made free and open inquiry and rigorous study of original sources possible on the East Coast. In doing so, they've created a space where a more complete, and inclusive story can be told.

Professor Kathleen Flake

Richard Bushman Chair of Mormon Studies

“A Look Back”

UVA Mormon Studies Timeline


The Professorship is established.


The Department of Religion offers its first class on Mormonism.


The first Joseph Smith Lecture on Religious Liberty is given by Senator Harry Reid.


Our first post-doctoral fellowship is granted.


We launch our website and official YouTube channel.


We sponsor a visiting research scholar from the Shanghai Institute of Socialism.


Our first Scholars and Saints podcast episode is released.


We acquire the expansive Prince Collection for UVA’s Library.


Our first research fellows in the Mormon Studies Collection are named.

Kathleen Flake

Kathleen Flake

Richard Lyman Bushman Professor

UVA’s Mormon Studies program has thrived under the leadership of Kathleen Flake, the first-ever occupant of the Richard Lyman Bushman Professorship. Kathleen Flake brings to the role a breadth of training in history, religious studies, law, and English literature.

Her latest research focuses on the adaptive strategies of 19th and 20th century American religious communities, the affect of pluralism on religious identity, and the constructive function of text and ritual in maintaining and adapting religious identity.

Prior to her appointment at UVA, Prof. Flake taught at Vanderbilt University in both the Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion. Before becoming an academic, she litigated cases on behalf of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Washington, D.C.

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American Religions & Affiliated Faculty

Richard Lyman Bushman

Richard Lyman Bushman

The University of Virginia established the Mormon Studies Professorship in honor of Professor Richard Lyman Bushman, an esteemed scholar of early American and Mormon history who led one of the first Mormon Studies programs in the country. He is currently Gouverneur Morris Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University and a National Advisory Board member for the Joseph Smith Papers project.

In the past, Prof. Bushman served as president of the Mormon History Association, a member of the board of editors of the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, a council member for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, and president of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. He chaired the advisory committee to the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History at Brigham Young University, 1999–2004; and he chaired the board of directors of the Mormon Scholars Foundation until 2016.

Prof. Bushman previously taught at Brigham Young University, Brown University, Boston University, Harvard University (as a visiting professor), and the University of Delaware. In addition, he occupied the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University in California from 2008 to 2011, the first graduate program of its kind.

Program Initiatives


Our Mormon Studies Collection

Our expansive Mormon Studies library collection contains 11,000+ books, manuscripts, and other materials.

About the Collection

Joseph Smith Lecture Series

Each fall, we sponsor a public lecture on religion in public life, with an emphasis on religious liberty and civic leadership.

View Speakers
Writing on paer

Early Mormon Marriage Database

Explore our database, and read fascinating research about the first Mormon families to embrace plural marriage.

Learn More

Scholars & Saints Podcast

In our official program podcast, Host Stephen Betts and guests explore exciting topics in Mormon Studies.

Listen Now

Mormon Studies Fellowships

We offer fellowships to support scholarly research and facilitate public understanding of Mormonism.

Support Fellowships