Religious Studies, Master of Arts (0446)


Program Coordinator

Jeffrey Samuels,, (270) 745-5748

The MA in Religious Studies is a rigorous program in the academic study of religion. Combining required courses with free electives, students get advanced training in the study of religion while having the freedom to explore research areas of interest. The program provides students with the knowledge base and academic skills necessary to pursue work at the doctoral level.

Joint Undergraduate Master's Program (JUMP)

This degree offers a Joint Undergraduate Master's Program (JUMP) which provides academically outstanding students the opportunity to complete both an undergraduate and graduate degree in approximately five years.  Contact the graduate program coordinator for additional information.

Program Admission

The applicant must provide all materials required by the Graduate School, complete the online application process, and meet the minimum GAP score (undergraduate grade point average multiplied by GRE score) requirement. Please visit the Graduate School website at for more information and to complete the application.

The M.A. in Religious Studies requires the following elements in all applications:

  • Personal Statement: this 2-3 page document (typed, double-spaced) should help the Admissions Committee understand how the applicant became interested in religious studies, what areas of religious studies the applicant would like to study, and how the program can help the applicant achieve his or her goals.
  • Writing Sample: an undergraduate or graduate paper (minimum eight pages) that reflects the applicant’s intellectual and communication skills
  • Two letters of recommendation.

The priority deadline for admissions will be March 15. While applications will be reviewed after the deadline, only those applications submitted by March 15 will be guaranteed full consideration. Applications submitted before the deadline will be reviewed periodically, allowing for early admissions decisions in some cases.

Please refer to the admission section of this catalog for Graduate School admission requirements.

Program Requirements (30 hours)

The M.A. program in Religious Studies requires a minimum of 30 graduate credit hours. No more than 12 hours may be in 400G courses. Students may take up to six hours in graduate courses in other departments. Students must complete a thesis or a culminating project. Students considering further doctoral study in religious studies are encouraged to take the thesis option.

Required Courses
RELS 500Theory and Method in the Study of Religion4
RELS 601Graduate Seminar in Religious Studies4
RELS 601Graduate Seminar in Religious Studies4
RELS 602Thesis and Project Development Seminar1
RELS 603Thesis and Project Capstone Colloquium1
RELS 610Teaching Practicum in Religious Studies1
Select 15 hours in further RELS 601 courses, other RELS graduate courses, independent studies, or graduate courses in other departments with consent of advisor15
Total Hours30

 Graduate level language courses may count for as many as six credits toward completing the degree. Research methods course in other departments may be used to meet this requirement upon approval of the Department Head of Philosophy and Religion. If not completing the research tool requirement in any other way, students must pass a reading examination in either French or German.