The Department of Religious Studies is excited to announce an overhaul of our MA program.  The new MA program is designed to give options to our students to make the most out of their degree.  The new options for the MA, which go into effect for all students as of August 2017, aim to better position our graduates for a future both inside and outside of academia.

Degree Requirements:

The master's degree in Religious Studies requires 30 credit hours, at least 27 credits of which must be completed at the 5000 level or above, and must include the following:

  • RLST 6830, Introduction to the Academic Study of Religion, generally taken in the Fall Semester of Year 1
  • Either RLST 6945 or RLST 6950

RLST 6945, Portfolio/Directed Readings (3 credits):

Overseen by the student's advisor, work in RLST 6945, taken in the student’s final semester, will include the following:

  • 1 intellectual/professional biography
  • 1 syllabus of a survey course in your area of expertise
  • 1 grant proposal/cover letter/statement of purpose, depending on your professional path  
  • 1 colloquium presentation/conference paper (which can be one of the items in the portfolio)
  • 1 research paper 
  • 1 literature review
  • 1 additional piece of work for inclusion in the portfolio. This may include additional reading and/or writing depending on the student’s and advisor’s goals
  • Language skill improvement for those working on languages
  • Preparation and defense of portfolio with the portfolio committee

RLST 6950, MA Thesis (6 credit hours over 2 semesters), to be made up of:

  • First semester of thesis (3 credit hours) to result in a thesis prospectus defense with the thesis committee by the end of the semester
  • Second semester of thesis (3 credit hours) to result in the thesis defense itself.  Students will not be able to register for the second semester of thesis credits without successfully defending a prospectus
  • The thesis is expected to be between 50 and 125 pages
  • Thesis students will produce streamlined portfolios as well that can be defended either with the prospectus or with the final thesis. This will include an intellectual biography, syllabus, cover letter, and conference paper/colloquium presentation. 

A maximum of 3 credit hours may be completed at the 3000 or 4000 level with the advisor's approval. Up to 6 credit hours of course work may be taken outside the department or transferred from another accredited institution, consistent with the student's special needs and interests.

All MA students will be expected to attend at least three colloquia over the course of their careers and to present at least once.

As the culmination of the degree, all students will complete a MA Portfolio. The portfolio is defended in front of a committee of three members, usually faculty whose courses the student has taken or faculty who have participated in a student’s professional development.  Those students opting to fulfill the research writing component of the portfolio by completing a MA Thesis must decide by the end of the first year of course work.

Any student planning to pursue a non-standard degree path—including a Dual MA, a Concurrent Bachelor’s/Master’s Degree program, concurrent graduate degrees in RLST and some other unit on campus, a RLST MA degree involving exceptions to regular degree requirements, a RLST MA degree involving transfer credits, and any other non-standard path—is required to submit a petition requesting approval from the student’s faculty advisor, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Chair; the Graduate Program Assistant should also be involved in the formulation and submission of the petition and receive a copy. Some petitions may require that approval be sought from the Graduate School. Additionally, any student planning to pursue a non-standard degree path is required to attend a meeting, at the beginning of every academic year, that includes the student’s faculty advisor, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Graduate Program Assistant.

Students who are pursuing a standard degree path are also strongly encouraged to arrange a meeting, at the beginning of every academic year, that includes their faculty advisor, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Graduate Program Assistant.

Combined Degree Programs:

B.A./M.A.:  This program offers students the opportunity to receive both degrees from the Department. Six credit hours of coursework taken for the B.A. degree may also be counted toward the M.A. degree. Apart from that exception, students must complete all requirements for both degrees.

Dual MA:  The Department of Religious Studies offers a Dual M.A. degree with either the Department of History (HIST) or the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations (ALC).  Such a degree serves the scholarly needs of students who seek a truly interdisciplinary experience among intellectually affiliated departments. The dual M.A. program enables students to receive two M.A. degrees upon the completion of 42 credit hours of coursework and thesis hours taken between RLST and either HIST or ALC.  Three courses from each program may be double-counted toward both degrees.