Jul 22, 2024  
Graduate Catalog | 2015-2016 
Graduate Catalog | 2015-2016 Previous Edition

Religious Studies, M.A.

The M.A. in Religious Studies program approaches the academic study of religion and religions from a variety of critical and interdisciplinary perspectives, with an emphasis placed on the global and multicultural aspects of religion. The department offers courses in Asian, Middle Eastern, European, and American religious traditions which focus on aspects of both their historical and contemporary manifestations.

Additional Admission Requirements

In addition to meeting the university’s graduate admission requirements, all prospective students must submit an essay (statement of purpose) that specifically addresses their motivation for pursuing the M.A. in Religious Studies, including some discussion of their research interests and career or professional goals. Standardized test scores and letters of reference can be no more than five years old.

Degree Requirements

The Master of Arts in Religious Studies requires the completion, with a GPA of 3.0 or above, of a minimum of 30 credit hours of approved graduate coursework.  At least 15 credit hours of this total must be in courses open only to graduate students (i.e., at the 6000 level or higher).  Upon the completion of 24 credit hours of coursework, students must pass a comprehensive written examination based on their studies.  Students have the option of writing a thesis (6 credit hours credit) or of compiling a portfolio of selected research papers written for courses in the program (no additional credit).  In either case the candidates must pass an oral examination based on their thesis or writing portfolio.  Students completing a thesis may take 6 credit hours of thesis preparation (RELS 6999 ) toward their 30 credit hours.  All degree requirements, including the comprehensive examination, thesis or portfolio, and oral defense, must be completed within six calendar years of first enrollment in the program.

Core Courses

All M.A. candidates must complete RELS 6101 - Approaches to the Study of Religion  with a grade of B (3.0) or above within three semesters of their initial admission into the program.

Elective Courses

Up to 6 hours of related graduate credit may be earned outside the Department of Religious Studies. Such courses must be formally approved by the director of graduate studies.


The Graduate Program Director serves as formal advisor to the department’s graduate students.

Transfer Credit

Up to 6 semester hours earned from other accredited institutions may be eligible for transfer credit. Formal approval must be obtained from the director of graduate studies and the Dean of the Graduate School.

Foreign Language Requirement

Although students are not required to demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language as a formal matriculation requirement of the program, they are expected to acquire competency in and use whatever languages they need to pursue their research interests.

Comprehensive Examination

Every student must satisfactorily complete a comprehensive written examination. This examination is normally taken at the end of or after the third semester (for full-time students). Students who elect to write a thesis become eligible for the comprehensive examination after completing 24 hours of coursework; all others become eligible after completing 30 hours of coursework.


Three-member faculty committees, consisting of two graduate faculty members from the Department of Religious Studies and a third member selected from Religious Studies or another department, conduct the comprehensive examinations and oversee the student’s thesis work. One of the examining faculty members will be the student’s instructor for RELS 6101 - Approaches to the Study of Religion .


Students have the option of writing a thesis (6 semester hours credit) or of compiling a portfolio of selected research papers written for courses in the program (no additional credit). In either case the candidates must complete an oral examination based on their thesis or writing  portfolio.

Application for Degree

Each student should make application for his/her degree by completing the online Application for Degree through Banner Self Service no later than the filing date specified in the University Academic Calendar.