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
- Completion of a portfolio (RLST 6945, 3 credits) or a master's thesis (RLST 6950, 6 credits)
Students choosing either the portfolio or thesis option must assemble a committee consisting of a committee chair (their advisor) and at least two other faculty members, one of whom may be an outside member. These are typically faculty whose courses the student has taken or who have guided the student's professional development. MA students must successfully defend their thesis or portfolio in front of their committee in order to graduate.
RLST 6945 Portfolio (3 credits):
Students choosing the portfolio option will take 3 credits of RLST 6945 in their final semester and, in consultation with their advisor, complete a portfolio. The M.A. portfolio will include three required elements and four additional components chosen from a possible list of six. Students must assemble a committee and defend the portfolio, just as they would a master's thesis.
RLST 6950 Master's Thesis (6 credit hours over 2 semesters):
- 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
- In consultation with their advisor, thesis students will produce a streamlined portfolio.
Past thesis titles: For a list of past MA theses completed by students in the department, please see the RLST Thesis Titles list.
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 graduate colloquia over the course of their careers. Students are required to present in at least one of the three colloquia.
Any student planning to pursue a non-standard degree path—including a Dual MA, a Bachelor's–Accelerated 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 Graduate School approval. 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 M.A.: 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.