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:

Entrance 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 must 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. International applicants are also required to submit a score of not less than 550 on the paper-based, or a comparable score of 213 on the computer-based TOEFL, or demonstrate English language proficiency by other equivalent means with a minimum score of 50 percent on the Listening Comprehension Section.
  4. 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. 
  5. 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. 
  6. 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 and must be completed before filing an Advisor Approved Program of Study.  Students who do not meet the GPA or GRE standards outlined above may be granted admission to the program at the discretion of the General Graduate Advisor.

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 General Graduate Advisor, 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 - 18 or 21 hours
Course CodeCourse TitleCredit Hours
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

All students must take at least one seminar in each of the four areas of emphasis.  Students choosing to write a thesis for their research component must take two additional seminars distributed across two of the four areas for a core of 18 hours.  Students choosing to create a research portfolio for their research component must take three additional seminars distributed across three of the four areas for a core of 21 hours.

2.    Electives.  Additional elective hours to total 30 hours.  At least six of the hours must be taken in the Religious Studies Department.  The student's Advisory Committee must approve these courses.

3.    Advisory Committee. Initially each student will be advised by the General Graduate Advisor. 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.

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

5.    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.

6.     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.  Students writing a thesis will enroll in REL 799 for 3 credit hours upon the completion of at least 12 hours of course work, normally at the beginning of the third semester of study.  Students will normally take another 3 hours of REL 799 in the following semester to complete the thesis.  Either the thesis or research portfolio constitutes the student's research component and will be defended orally before the student's Advisory Committee.