Master of Arts Program

The Department of Religion at Temple University offers a 30-credit Master’s degree program designed for the following students:

  • For those seeking to qualify for a Ph.D. program in Religion or a related field. (Note: Admission to the Temple Ph.D. program requires a new, separate application. See below under “Requirements for Admission into the Ph.D. Program”).
  • For those who plan to teach Study of Religion subject matter in community colleges or high schools.
  • For those in various forms of religious ministry who wish further, postgraduate training and exposure to the newest research methods and developments in the understanding of their own or other religious and cultural traditions.
  • For those who wish to bring cultural and cross-cultural analytical tools to professions such as business, social work, medicine, government, and journalism.
  • For qualified persons in the general public who would like the opportunity to acquire competence in the study of religions, values, and cultures broadly defined, and in areas of special interest to the student.

Course Requirements

  • The M.A. requires 30 credit hours of course work. Students take at least 12 credits of relevant Foundations courses, 12 credits of elective Seminars and/or Individual Study, and 6 additional credits. 3 or 6 credits of this work may be taken in graduate courses outside the department in a cognate field at Temple University. Up to 6 credits may be transferred from approved graduate study elsewhere if relevant to the student’s program. Upon entry to the M.A. program, the new student should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies for advice on the best choice of courses to meet that student’s needs.
  • No later than at the completion of their first 18 semester hours (s. h.) of course work the student should choose either the Thesis or Portfolio option as described below, as well as an advisor for the final project. This choice must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee. The advisor will have primary responsibility for supervising the student’s work for the remainder of the program and will be the primary reader of the thesis or portfolio.

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Options for Completion of the M.A. Degree

Thesis Option

  • This option is recommended for, but not limited to, students intending to seek admission to a doctoral program upon completion of the M.A. degree or planning to teach in the discipline at the college or community college level. For the thesis option the student must satisfy the following requirements, totaling 30 credit hours:
    • 12 credits in Foundations courses. These should include the basic thought, practices, and history of at least three different religious traditions. Methodological courses are optional.
    • 12 credits in Advanced or Specialized Seminars and/or Individual Study.
    • 6 additional credits which may be taken either inside the Department of Religion or outside the department in a cognate field at Temple University.
    • 6 of the above credits in the department must be in a 3 credit Individual Study (REL 9282 or 9382) that prepares the student to register the following term for a 3 credit M.A. thesis project (REL 9996) prepared under the direction of a thesis advisor. With the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, the student may substitute a regular graduate seminar with that same professor for the first Individual Study provided that that seminar is relevant to and prepares the study for the writing of the thesis.
  • Reading knowledge of a language or languages relevant to the thesis topic may be required at the discretion of the thesis advisor. In such a case, the student’s reading knowledge would be tested as described below under the language requirements for the Ph.D. Such linguistic ability may be necessary to give the student’s thesis academic credibility. Thus, while knowledge of a language is not necessarily required for the M.A., students should recognize that they will be tested in languages in any accredited Ph.D. program they apply for in the field and that early competence in languages is highly desirable for graduate studies. Indeed, there is no subfield of graduate studies in religion where foreign language knowledge lacks usefulness.
  • Oral defense of the Master’s thesis. This includes the setting up of a committee of two professors to examine the student, one of whom must be the student’s thesis advisor. The student is also required to submit bound copies of the thesis to the department and to the Graduate School.

Portfolio Option

  • This option does not require the preparation of a thesis. It is recommended for students intending to augment their primary area of expertise and professional training in fields such as business, social work, medicine, government, journalism, law, teaching K-12, counseling, social work, the ministry, and others. The student must satisfy the following requirements, totaling 30 credit hours:
    • 12 credits in Foundations courses. These should include the basic thought, practices, and history of at least three different religious traditions. Methodology courses are optional.
    • 12 credits in Seminars and/or Individual Study.
    • 6 additional credits which may be taken either inside the Department of Religion or outside the department in a cognate field at Temple University.
  • Reading knowledge of a language or languages relevant to the portfolio area of concentration may be required at the discretion of the student’s advisor.
  • Portfolio consisting of three papers: Normally portfolio papers will be research papers initially written for seminars one from a Foundations seminar in the student’s area of focus, one from an Advanced Seminar in the student’s area of focus, and one from a graduate seminar taken in a cognate field at Temple University, in the Department of Religion or outside of it.
  • Capstone experience to include a position paper (written synthesis of portfolio materials) and oral defense. This includes the setting up of a committee of two professors to examine the student, one of whom must be the student’s advisor. Unlike the Thesis option, which requires a two-semester commitment to an advisor, the Portfolio option requires the selection of the advisor only for the defense, although this selection may be made earlier as well.

Graduation Procedures

At the beginning of the term in which students expect to complete the requirements for the M.A. degree, they should file an “Intent to Graduate” form available at the Graduate School. See the University Calendar for deadlines.