MA in Religious Studies

The MA in Religious Studies program trains students to be conversant in the methods of the academic study of religion while also acquiring graduate-level knowledge in a particular area of specialization. Graduates of the MA program will be prepared to enter doctoral programs in religious studies or seminary degree programs, or to seek employment where advanced knowledge of the world’s religions is desired. All students will choose and area of specialization within one of our MA program’s four tracks:

Track 1: Texts and Tradition
Track 2: Religious Thought
Track 3: Religion and Society
Track 4: Religion and Science

The guidelines for each track are meant to ensure that students are well-prepared to produce high-quality academic work in their chosen areas of specialization while also remaining fully engaged in the broader trends in the study of religion most relevant to their work. Each track is guided by a group of faculty that includes, among others, members of the Department of Religion and the School of Theology. For more information on each of these tracks and the requirements for the MA in Religious Studies, see the Graduate Division of Religious Studies page. Students entering the MA program will have majored in religious studies (or a related discipline) or otherwise show transcript evidence of advanced coursework in a single religious tradition and introductory coursework in multiple religious traditions.

Course Requirements

In addition to any prerequisites required upon admission, eight 4-credit courses (32 credits) are normally required as a minimum for the Master of Arts. Additional courses may be required at the discretion of the advisor and the director. All students in the division must successfully complete two of the following three 4-credit courses in approaches to religious studies:

  • GRS RN 795: Humanities Approaches to Religion
  • GRS RN 796: Social Science Approaches to Religion
  • GRS RN 797: Philosophical and Theological Approaches to Religion

Language Requirement

All students pursuing an MA in Religious Studies are required to demonstrate graduate-level reading proficiency in French, German, or another relevant foreign language prior to completion of the degree. Language proficiency can be demonstrated through either a language examination, successful completion of a non-credit graduate-level foreign language reading course offered by Boston University, or the equivalent of two years of undergraduate study of the language at Boston University.

Comprehensive Examination or Thesis

After fulfilling course requirements, an MA candidate must write and defend a thesis or pass a comprehensive examination in the student’s area of specialization. The contours of the exam or thesis are determined in the first case by the student’s advisor, in consultation with related faculty, and with the approval of the director of the Graduate Division of Religious Studies.