This site is accessible using any internet enabled device but will look best in a modern graphical browser that supports web standards.

Jump To: Content | Navigation

Religious Studies

CHAIR: Robert K. Gnuse, Ph.D. OFFICE: 408 Bobet Hall


The master of arts program in religious studies aims at providing a solid and well-rounded foundation in theology and religious studies.

The curriculum is conceived as a broad comprehensive approach to the study of religion. The major concern is to develop in the degree candidate a capability of approaching the field with a sensitivity to scripture, the historical development of western religious thought, an ecumenical awareness, an interdisciplinary mentality, and knowledge of the field’s varied methodologies.
More specifically, the program hopes to provide a solid academic basis in religious studies for its students, who will upon completion of their degree, enter into a variety of occupations: teaching religion in high schools or on the primary level, functioning as religious education coordinators on the parish level, serving as staff members of Christian centers, conducting retreats and workshops, organizing and teaching in adult education programs, or working in offices of religious education. The program is also designed to accommodate those who wish to embark upon the first step to the doctoral degree in religious studies or theology and for priests, ministers, religious, and laity who wish to update their theological understanding. Finally, the program aims to service those who wish to develop their knowledge and understanding of religion as one of the major forces in the shaping of culture in human history.

In conjunction with the School of Law, the department also offers the opportunity to pursue the joint juris doctor/master of arts. This program is particularly well suited to those whose professional work combines legal issues with matters of religion or with cross-cultural concerns. Students in this program must be separately admitted to the School of Law as well as to the graduate program in religious studies. The School of Law and the Department of Religious Studies each accept nine credit hours from the other’s program to make a combined total of 103 hours for the J.D./M.A.

Admission to Candidacy

A bachelor of arts degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university is required for admission. Applicants normally must have an overall average of 2.5 in their undergraduate work.
Applicants must have an appropriate background in undergraduate studies. An applicant without such a background may be expected to take preliminary work in religious studies for undergraduate credit.

Transfer of Academic Credit

Students who have earned academic credit at another accredited college or university may be allowed to transfer a maximum of six credit hours, with the approval of the departmental chair and/or dean of the college. Each degree program has certain restrictions concerning acceptance of courses completed at other institutions. Transfer of credits earned more than five years prior to enrollment will ordinarily not be considered.
Transfer students will be informed of the amount of credit which will transfer prior to their enrollment, if possible, but at the latest, prior to the end of the first academic term in which they are enrolled.

Course Program

Thirty credit hours must be obtained by either of two programs:

  • Program A: 30 class hours
  • Program B: 24 class hours plus 6 hours of thesis preparation.

Reading competence in at least one appropriate foreign language, ancient or modern, is required. Competence in a foreign language will be determined by a departmental examination. Students must pass this examination before the completion of 12 credit hours of work.

The Graduate Record Examination must be taken prior to the second semester of enrollment in the M.A. degree program.

Each student is required to complete foundational courses in the following areas:

  • biblical literature
  • systematic theology
  • the history of Christianity
  • ethics
  • world religion

By choice of electives, students can then develop a concentration in any of these areas.
Upon completion of class requirements for either program A or program B, each student will take comprehensive examinations which will have both written and oral components. J.D./M.A. students have the option of a capstone project instead of comprehensives.
An average of B must be maintained for all work.


Updated August 23, 2005