The master of arts
(M.A.) degree in religion is designed for those seeking to advance their
knowledge at a graduate level as preparation for top-ranked doctoral-level work
in religious studies, or for careers in other fields such as education,
publishing, social work, community service, and public affairs. Students,
particularly educators and professionals working in religious communities or
other fields, may pursue the M.A. part time.
Rutgers' program draws on the strength of its faculty in
areas such as religions in America, religion and conflict, and contemplative
studies. This innovative program addresses several pressing needs of our
post-9/11 world in critically studying core components of religion, from its
most sublime aspects--such as contemplation--to its most horrifying aspects--such
as violence--across historical and cultural boundaries. We examine the
historical genealogies of these components as well as their contemporary
reincarnations within the context of religious modernity and secularism.
Students in the M.A. program will be exposed to the primary
interpretive models that have developed in the Western study of religion since
the Enlightenment, including historical, sociological, political,
philosophical, psychological, and scientific perspectives on the phenomenon of
religion. In addition, they will study the universe of meaning internal to a
particular religious tradition including its primary texts, liturgy, theology, soteriology, ethics, hermeneutics, conceptual framework, and epistemology.
Working closely with a world-class faculty, students will attain an in-depth
understanding of the indigenous contexts within which the world's major
religions arose and appreciate their transformations within the American context.
M.A. students are required to complete a total of 30 credits, including Theory and Method in the Study of Religion (16:840:501), plus further courses
in at least four of the following seven areas: Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity,
Hinduism, Islam, religion and conflict, contemplative studies, foreign
languages, and religions in America. Upper-division language
courses relevant to the student's area of study may be counted
toward the degree.
M.A. students have two options for final
1) M.A. thesis (6 credits). The thesis should not be shorter than
50 pages. It requires the approval of a thesis committee, consisting of the
adviser and two readers.
2) A capstone project (3 credits). The capstone project,
which should not be shorter than 30 pages, must
engage some aspect of the material from the Theory and Method in the Study of Religion course and apply
it to the area or field that interests the student the most, such as a given
religious tradition or phenomenon. Two readers are required to approve the final product.
Bachelor's-Master's Dual Degree (4+1) Program
Qualified students in the B.A. program in religious studies at Rutgers can apply to the M.A. program in their junior year,
and if accepted they may take up to 12 graduate credits in their senior year, although
no courses may be counted toward both degrees.