Religious Studies Graduate Program Catalog Information

Admission to the Master of Arts program

Students seeking admission to the Master of Arts program in religious studies must meet the general Graduate College requirements for admission as degree-seeking students. In addition, students must have the following:

Admisison requirements

  1. A bachelor's degree in religious studies or a related program in the humanities or social sciences.  Some coursework in religious studies is desirable. 
  2. A minimum GPA of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale.  Students who do not meet the GPA requirement may opt to take the GRE and normally will be expected to score a minimum of 158 on the verbal section (580 under the old scoring system before August 1, 2011) and a minimum of 300 (1,000 under the old scoring system) on the combined verbal and quantitative sections.
  3. 12 hours of foreign language or its equivalent (e.g., passing a proficiency examination administered by the Modern and Classical Languages Department).  Applicants not meeting this requirement may be admitted, but must fulfill it before completion of the program. 
  4. There are additional university requirements for international applicants, including documentation of financial support and demonstration of proficiency in the English language if your primary language is not English.  See International Services Requirements for Graduate Admission for more information. 
  5. Applicants lacking the appropriate qualifications for the program may be admitted but will be required to rectify deficiencies with appropriate course work. Usually these courses will not count toward the master's degree.  Students who do not meet the GPA or GRE standards outlined above may be granted admission to the program at the discretion of the Graduate Program Director.

Accelerated degree program requirements

The accelerated master’s program option in religious studies provides an opportunity for outstanding undergraduate students to begin their graduate course work during their junior and senior years.

Religious studies students from Drury or Evangel universities in Springfield may also qualify for admission into the accelerated program through a cooperative agreement.

Accelerated Master's Degree option

Eligible undergraduate majors in Religious Studies or an equivalent department from an accredited institution may apply for early admission to the Master of Arts in Religious Studies.  Once accepted for early admission, students will be able to take up to twelve (12) credit hours at the 600- and 700-level that apply to both their undergraduate and graduate programs.  Before enrolling in courses to be counted for both undergraduate and graduate credit, an undergraduate student must be accepted into the accelerated master’s program AND receive prior approval from the Graduate Program Director, Department Head, and the Graduate College Dean (on a Mixed Credit Form).

Traditional degree program requirements

When completing the Master of Arts in religious studies traditional track, you will be able to choose courses from across the discipline.

Degree requirements (minimum of 30 hours)

Core Requirements - 15 hours
Course CodeCourse TitleCredit Hours
REL 685* Theories of Religion 3 hrs
REL 711 Seminar in Religions of Asia 3 hrs
REL 731 Seminar: Biblical Studies 3 hrs
REL 751 Seminar in Religions of Europe and the Middle East 3 hrs
REL 771 Seminar: Religion and Culture 3 hrs

*Students who have completed REL 580 Theories of Religion must substitute REL 685 with an additional 600- or 700-level course (3 hours) approved by the Graduate Program Director.

2.    Electives - 15 hours.  Students writing a thesis for their research component must complete two additional seminars (6 hours), distributed across two of four options (REL 711, 731, 751, 771).  Students creating a research portfolio for their research component must complete three additional seminars (9 hours), distributed across three of four options (REL 711, 731, 751, 771).   

Additional electives:  All students must complete additional elective hours selected from 600- and 700-level courses to total 30 hours.  At least six of the elective hours must be in the Religious Studies Department.  For students writing a thesis, up to 6 of the elective hours may be in REL 799, Thesis - the first 3 hours typically taken after the student has completed 12 hours of course work and the second 3 hours taken the follwoing semester to complete the thesis.

3.    Foreign Language Requirement.  The foreign language requirement may be met before entering the M.A. program or while completing the program through one of the following options: 

  1. completion of 12 hours of undergraduate course work in a foreign language with a grade of "C" or higher;
  2. completion of 6 hours of undergraduate course work in one foreign language with a grade of "C" or higher and completion of 6 hours of undergraduate course work in a second foreign language with a grade of "C" or higher;
  3. completion of the second intermediate foreign language college course with a grade of "C" or higher;
  4. passing a reading competency test equivalent to the level of the second intermediate foreign language college course, administered by the Department of Modern and Classical Languages; or
  5. the approval of the Graduate Program Director.

    Any student whose native language is not English will be considered to have met the foreign language requirement.

4.  Advisory committee. Initially each student will be advised by the Graduate Program Director. As soon as possible, the student will select a faculty member to chair a graduate advisory committee consisting of at least three persons. This committee will supervise the remainder of the candidate's graduate program.

5.  Program of study. The candidate's program will be structured by the Advisory Committee in consultation with the student.

6.  Comprehensive examination. The written and oral comprehensive examination will be administered by the student's Advisory Committee upon the completion of at least 12 hours of course work, normally at the beginning of the third semester.  This examination must be passed before the student begins writing a thesis or creating a research portfolio.

7.  Research.  In addition to completing their course work, students must complete either a thesis or a research portfolio in a manner acceptable to the student's Advisory Committee.  The thesis or research portfolio constitutes the student's research component and will be defended orally before the student's Advisory Committee.