MA in International Relations & Religion

This innovative two-year degree program is a joint offering of the Departments of International Relations and Religion, in cooperation with the Institute on Culture, Religion & World Affairs.

The MA program emphasizes both the intellectual and policy aspects of the role of religion in international relations. The course offerings underscore the need for a comparative, interdisciplinary approach to the study of religion and world affairs, and the degree program offers students the opportunity to develop theoretical, functional, and/or regional expertise in the examination of religion’s role in sub-state, inter-state, and transnational phenomena. The curriculum draws on courses in the Departments of Religion and International Relations, as well as the School of Theology and other social science and humanities departments throughout the University.

The MA is designed for students interested in both academic and policy careers that deal with the intersection of religion and world affairs. Particularly suitable undergraduate majors include international relations, political science, theology, and religion; related disciplines such as history, sociology, anthropology, and economics also provide useful background. Students and public policy professionals working in the areas of conflict resolution, peace building, peace studies, and mass media are also encouraged to apply to the MA degree program. However, there is no firm requirement that applicants have pursued specific majors or career paths if they can demonstrate a clear interest in and ability to complete the program.


NOTE: The following explicates the requirements applicable only to the MA in International Relations & Religion program. Students should first consult the International Relations MA Core Requirements portion of this Bulletin for detailed requirements applicable to all IR MA programs.

For the two-year MA in International Relations & Religion program, students are required to successfully complete 64 credits (sixteen 4-credit courses). These are divided into four required courses, two tracks (one in a religious tradition, one in a regional or functional specialization) consisting of four courses each, an MA Paper Workshop, and three electives. Students must also satisfy the Department of International Relations’ foreign language exam (in a language relevant to the program of study) and write a final master’s paper, as per the general degree requirements explained above. The course requirements are as follows:

Required Courses

Four Core Courses

  • GRS IR 701 Introduction to International Relations
  • CAS IR 561/RN 561 The Multiple Modernities of Religion and International Relations
  • GRS RN 795 Humanities Approaches to Religion
    RN 796 Social Science Approaches to Religion
  • CAS AN 563/IR 563 Public Religion and Politics across Cultures

Master’s Paper Workshop

  • GRS IR 799 Master’s Paper Workshop

Track Courses

Students must take four courses in each of two tracks. One track must focus on a religious tradition, while the other must be an IR functional or regional track. At least one course in the religious tradition track must be chosen from among the offerings of the Department of Religion or the School of Theology. Lists of approved courses for each of the tracks can be found online at The tracks are as follows:

Religious Tradition Tracks

  • Buddhism
  • Chinese Religions
  • Christianity
  • Hinduism
  • Islam
  • Judaism

IR Functional Tracks

  • Theory and Policy
  • Political Economy
  • Security Studies

IR Regional Tracks

  • Asia
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East & Africa
  • Muslim World

Elective Coursework

Students choose three elective courses from the graduate-level course offerings of the International Relations Department, from the courses on any of the track listings, or from the list of approved IRRN elective courses, which can be found at Students may petition to have other courses count toward their degree.

Students may also take elective coursework through the Boston Theological Institute (BTI), a consortium of nine Boston-area theology schools. BTI courses must be approved by the International Relations Director of Graduate Studies.