The MA degree requires at least 30 credit hours of graduate study, of which 24 must be taken in residence. Course work at the 7000 level or above may be counted toward the degree, and at least 12 of these credit hours must be at the 8000 level. Students are encouraged to meet with their advisor and comlete the M1 form with their plan of study after they pass their comprehensive examination to make sure that they are meeting all graduation requirements.
The department’s core curriculum explores subjects fundamental to the study of religion and is required of all graduate students. The program requires that graduate students take a course in the methodologies of Religious Studies. In addition, the degree requires 15 additional graduate credit hours in Religious Studies.
12 of these credit hours in Religious Studies must be either 8000-level courses or REL 7990: Independent Readings, while 3 of the Religious Studies credit hours may be taken either at the 7000- or 8000-level. No more that two independent reading courses may be counted toward the required hours in Religious Studies unless a dispensation is given by the Director of Graduate Studies. Thesis hours do not count toward the 15 credit hours in Religious Studies, although they do count toward the total of 30 credit hours required for the degree.
The program in the study of religion is strengthened by the considerable faculty resources available in other departments in the humanities and social sciences. Among the fields represented by scholars who have agreed to support the master's program in religious studies are history, English, classical studies, folklore studies, sociology, art history, anthropology and philosophy. Master's students will normally take graduate courses in at least one such field outside of the department that reflects their principal area of interest.
The program culminates in the writing and defense of a thesis or portfolio. The Department typically holds public defenses and defenses will typically be advertised. While students are permitted to embargo their research, some recent theses and portfolios have been made available on MOspace