MA in Religious Studies

New applications for the MA in Religious Studies are no longer being accepted. Requirements for students currently enrolled in the program are listed below.

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 an area of specialization within one of our MA program’s four tracks:

Track 1: Texts and Traditions
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, the School of Theology, and faculty from other schools and departments related to the focus of the track. 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.

Learning Outcomes

  • Produce an original and substantial contribution to knowledge in the field of religious studies, utilizing appropriate research skills.
  • Demonstrate a rich, generalized mastery of the field’s subject matter and the variety of methods employed by its practitioners.
  • Obtain the necessary knowledge for future research and to teach broad introductory undergraduate courses in religious studies.
  • Comport oneself according to the highest ethical standards of the academy, exhibiting collegiality and fairness in treatment of teachers, peers, students, and subjects of study.

Course Requirements

In addition to any prerequisites required upon admission, eight 4-unit courses (32 units) are normally required as a minimum for the Master of Arts. This includes two of the following four 4-unit courses in approaches to religious studies:

  • CAS RN 795 Humanities Approaches to Religion
  • CAS RN 796 Social Science Approaches to Religion
  • CAS RN 797 Philosophical and Theological Approaches to Religion
  • CAS RN 798 Scientific Approaches to Religion

Additional courses may be required at the discretion of the advisor and the director.

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 or successful completion of a noncredit graduate-level foreign language reading course offered by 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 by the student’s advisor, in consultation with related faculty, and with the approval of the director of the Graduate Division of Religious Studies.