3370 Religious Studies

Program Offered:

  • Master of Arts in Religious Studies
    • Concentration in Non-Profit Management
  • Dual B.A./M.A. in Religious Studies

Department of Religious Studies
17th floor, 25 Park Place Bldg.
Georgia State University
P.O. Box 4089
Atlanta, Georgia 30302-4089
404-413-6110
religiousstudies.gsu.edu

Kathryn McClymond, Chair
Molly Bassett, Director of Graduate Studies

Founded in the past century, the modern field of Religious Studies endeavors to better understand religion by means of modern academic approaches. The Department of Religious Studies offers a Masters of Arts in Religious Studies that trains students in a range of world religious traditions and theoretical perspectives. All students gain a general understanding of comparative approaches to the study of religion while having the opportunity to specialize in one or more specific religion(s). Graduates of the program have gone on to study at Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge, Chicago, Berkeley, and other top graduate programs and have entered successful careers in such fields as academia, international journalism, immigration law, public service, and the ministry.

Students who plan to seek a Ph.D. in the field are strongly encouraged to discuss their intentions with the Religious Studies faculty as soon as possible so that a course of study can be determined to prepare them for doctoral work.

Applicants may obtain additional information about the Department of Religious Studies by contacting the Director of Graduate Studies at the address above.

Additional Admissions Requirements

In addition to the general requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Religious Studies has the following requirements:

  1. Three letters of recommendation addressing the ability of the student to undertake graduate study.
  2. All applicants should submit a sample of their written work. See the electronic application for details.

Degree Requirements

The Masters of Religious Studies offers two tracks: a thesis track and a course work intensive track. Students declare which track they intend to pursue after they have completed 24 hours of course work, usually at the end of the first year of study. The requirements are as follows:

Track 1 (Thesis track):

In order to receive the Masters of Religious Studies, a student must complete 30 hours of course work. These courses must include:

  1. Twenty-four hours of non-thesis course work. As part of these twenty-four hours, a student successfully must complete:
    1. One course in theory and methods in the study of religion (3):
      • RELS 8200 Pro-Seminar in Advanced Theory and Method (3)
    2. At least one course from each of the following areas (6):
    3. One course in comparative / thematic approaches to religions (3):
    4. One course in religion and ethics / politics (3):
    5. Additional electives (9 graduate level hours) from either Religious Studies or affiliated courses (see below) to bring the total to twenty-four hours. Because the interests and goals of each student are distinct, students are highly encouraged to consult their academic adviser when selecting courses to complete the program of study.
  2. Six hours of RELS 8999 Thesis Research
  3. A thesis
  4. An oral thesis defense

Track 2 (Course work Intensive track)

In order to receive the Masters of Religious Studies, a student must complete 36 hours of course work. These courses must include:

  1. Thirty-six hours of intensive coursework. As part of these thirty-six hours, a student successfully must complete:
    1. One course in theory and methods in the study of religion (3):
      • RELS 8200 Pro-Seminar in Advanced Theory and Method (3)
    2. At least one course from each of the following areas (6):
    3. One course in comparative / thematic approaches to religions (3):
    4. One course in religion and ethics / politics (3):
    5. Additional electives (21 graduate level hours) from either Religious Studies or affiliated courses (see below) to bring the total to twenty-four hours. Because the interests and goals of each student are distinct, students are highly encouraged to consult their academic adviser when selecting courses to complete the program of study.
    6. Research competence must be demonstrated on the basis of a research paper. A committee of at least three members of the faculty will pass on the acceptability of the paper or project. Two-thirds of the committee must indicate approval. This approval must be submitted in writing to the Office of Graduate Services by the appropriate deadline (cas.gsu.edu/graduate-studies/admissions/application-deadlines/).

Students who intend to pursue additional graduate work after the Masters of Religious Studies at Georgia State University are urged to pursue the thesis track option.

Affiliated Courses

Most students will concentrate their coursework within the Religious Studies Department. (See course listings under Religious Studies later in this catalog.) Other departments and programs within Georgia State University also offer courses directly bearing on the academic study of religion. When Religious Studies Masters students satisfy the prerequisites for the courses, they may take and have applied toward their degree requirements no more than two of the following non-departmental courses:

Note: While the above courses have particular pertinence to the Masters in Religious Studies, not all listed courses will be appropriate for the program of study of every student. Students should select courses in consultation with their advisers. Additionally, courses not included on the above list may be appropriate to the program of study of certain students within the Religious Studies M.A program. Upon approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, such courses may be counted toward the degree on a case-by-case basis.

Restrictions

  1. Only six hours of credit transferred from another institution may be applied towards the Georgia State M.A.
  2. Of the hours taken at Georgia State and applied toward the M.A, no more than six hours may be from outside the Department of Religious Studies.

Foreign Language Competencies

Depending upon their area(s) of concentration, students who wish to go on to pursue a Ph.D. in Religious Studies may need to initiate or complete studies in a particular language or languages before beginning doctoral studies. Students are urged to consult with their advisers for advice and direction concerning language competencies.

The M.A. with Distinction

Students who meet all of the following requirements shall be awarded the M.A. with distinction:

  1. A graduate Georgia State GPA of 3.50 or higher in courses applicable to the Religious Studies M.A.
  2. A thesis that, upon vote of the committee grading the thesis, is judged to merit distinction.
  3. A determination by the Director of Graduate Studies that the student’s graduate record at Georgia State University is one of distinction.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to review the additional information about the Department of Religious Studies which is on its website at religiousstudies.gsu.edu.

Concentration in Non-Profit Management

The department offers a concentration in N0n-Profit Management for the Master of Arts in Religious Studies. Please contact the department graduate director for program curriculum and other details.

Dual B.A./M.A. Program in Religious Studies

The department offers a dual Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Religious Studies. The dual degree opportunity enables qualified students to enroll in graduate courses late in their undergraduate program and apply the coursework toward both the bachelor’s and master’s programs.

Students must be formally accepted into the dual degree program by the department and College of Arts and Sciences to be able to take graduate courses as an undergraduate. Additionally, acceptance into the dual program does not constitute admission to the master’s program. Students must fulfill regular graduate admissions requirements and apply for the master’s program following college processes.

Information about the dual program, including application instructions and program requirements, can be found at cas.gsu.edu/dual-degrees/.