Program Requirements

Master of Arts, Religious Studies

Mark Given, Graduate Program Director
Strong Hall, Room 266; Phone 417-836-6261

Program description

This program will develop sound knowledge and professional skills in the discipline of Religious Studies, as well as in the broader context of related disciplines in the humanities. The following areas of emphasis are available: Religions of Asia; Religions of Europe and the Middle East; Biblical Studies; and Religion and Culture. Upon completion of the program, students will have acquired a foundation of knowledge, skills, and perspectives for working in a variety of vocations where a high degree of versatility in human affairs, knowledge in humanities, and an ability to negotiate among various religious perspectives are required. The program provides a strong foundation for doctoral studies and teaching, and it can enhance preparation for such professional careers as non-profit work, counseling and ministry.

Admission 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. 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.
  4. 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 Master's Degree option

Eligible undergraduate majors in Languages, Cultures and Religions 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).

Admission requirements for the Accelerated Master's program

  1. Junior standing, with an overall GPA of 3.4.
  2. Major in Religious Studies or an equivalent, having completed fifteen hours in the department, including at least six hours at the 300-level or above, with a GPA in the major of 3.5.
  3. Recommendation by a faculty member in Languages, Cultures and Religions or an equivalent department at another institution.
  4. Admission by the Graduate Committee of the Department of Languages, Cultures and Religions.

Degree requirements (minimum of 30 hours)

  1. Core Requirements - 15 hours
    Code Course Title Credit Hours
    REL 685* Theories of Religion 3 hrs
    REL 711 Seminar in Religions of Asia 3 hrs
    REL 731 Seminar in Biblical Studies 3 hrs
    REL 751 Seminar in Religions of Europe and the Middle East 3 hrs
    REL 771 Seminar in 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. All students must complete two additional seminars (6 hrs), distributed across two of four options: REL 711, 731, 751, 771. They must also complete an additional selected from 600- and 700-level courses to total 30 hours. At least six of the elective hours must be in the Languages, Cultures and Religions department. For students writing a thesis, up to six of the elective hours may be in REL 799, Thesis - the first 3 hours typically taken in the third semester of study after the student has completed at least 12 hours of course work and the second 3 hours taken the following semester to complete the thesis.
  3. Advisory committee. Each student will be advised by the Graduate Program Director who serves as the student's Primary Advisor. As soon as possible, the student will also select a faculty member to serve as his or her Research Advisor who will chair a Research Advisory Committee consisting of at least three persons. This committee will supervise the creation of the candidate's Thesis or Research Portfolio.
  4. Program of study. The candidate's program will be structured initially by the Primary Advisor in consultation with the student. The program of study can be modified as needed by the Research Advisor in consultation with the student and Primary Advisor.
  5. Comprehensive examination. The comprehensive examination will be administered by the student's Research Advisor and a second member of the student's Research Advisory Committee and adjudicated by the student's Research Advisory Committee upon completion of at least 12 hours of course work, normally at the beginning of the third semester.
  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. The thesis or research portfolio constitutes the student's research component and will be defended orally before the student's Research Advisory Committee.