Master of Arts (MA) Degree in the field of Religion

Program Learning Outcomes for the MA Degree in the field of Religion

Upon completing the MA degree in the field of Religion, students will be able to:

  1. Develop and apply critical toolkit to the study of religion and religious traditions, including (inter)disciplinary methodologies and theories at a level of mastery.
    (Critical Skills for the Study of Religion: Theory, Method and (Inter)Disciplinarity)
  2. Understand and interpret religious traditions by examining religion(s) as historical, social, and cultural phenomena. When appropriate, attention is given to the impact of globalism, immigration, colonialism, and other forms of transnational and multi-cultural (non)religious exchange at a level of mastery.
    (Historical, Social, (Multi-)Cultural Dimensions of Religion)
  3. Understand and interpret the subjective dimensions of religion(s) through analyses that explore the psychological, philosophical, and cognitive dynamics of religion and religious experience at a level of mastery.
    (Psychological, Philosophical, and Cognitive Dimensions of Religion)
  4. Understand and interpret religious traditions by examining the plurality of religious voices and expressions, including currents that have been marginalized, neglected, repressed, and censored in a variety of sociological, psychological, philosophical, and political ways at a level of mastery.
    (Religious Plurality and Marginal Currents)
  5. Develop ability to read and understand relevant scholarly research/literature that has been published in foreign languages. Develop ability to read religious texts in their original languages and perform translations of texts when appropriate to the student’s course of study at a level of mastery.
    (Foreign Language Skills)

Requirements for the MA Degree in the field of Religion

The MA degree is a thesis master’s degree. For general university requirements, please see Thesis Master’s Degrees. Students pursuing the MA degree in the field of Religion (RELI) must:

  • Complete all university graduation requirements
  • Complete Graduate Methods Seminar requirement (2 courses): RELI 527 (History and Methods: 19th Century) and RELI 559 (History and Methods: 20th Century)
  • Complete at least 30 hours of courses approved for graduate credit at Rice University
  • Complete at least 24 hours of graduate-level coursework in departmental (RELI) course offerings with a B- or better
  • At least 12 hours of the RELI coursework must be seminars at the 500 or 600 level, where research papers are required
  • Accumulate an overall GPA of at least 3.0
  • Pass 1 secondary language reading exam (French or German)
  • Comprehensive exam on Method and Theory in the study of religion
  • Master’s thesis developed from a paper in a course that represents the student’s interests in the study of religion
  • Oral defense of thesis with student and three faculty members who have worked with the student in the Department of Religion
  • Candidacy, defense, and thesis submission will follow the guidelines described here


Total Credit Hours Required for the MA degree in the field of Religion30

Degree Requirements

Graduate Methods Seminar Requirement
Additional Coursework as Defined by Department24
Total Credit Hours30

Policies for the MA Degree in the field of Religion 

Department of Religion Graduate Program Handbook

The General Announcements (GA) is the official Rice curriculum. As an additional resource for students, the Department of Religion publishes a graduate program handbook, which can be found here:


Students will apply for admittance to the MA program via the Rice Grad Apps webpage. Each January, the faculty in the Religion Department will evaluate the applications and select the MA students for the next academic year.

Application for Degree

The student must file a petition to receive the MA. This petition can be obtained from the Graduate Administrator and must be approved and signed by the Chair of the Department and submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies. In exceptional cases, when a student who has completed the terminal MA, applies to the PhD program, and is admitted, the coursework already completed by the student may be applied toward the PhD requirements.

Transfer Credit 

For Rice University’s policy regarding transfer credit, see Transfer Credit. Some departments and programs have additional restrictions on transfer credit. Students are encouraged to meet with their academic program’s advisor when considering transfer credit possibilities.

For additional information, please see the Religion website:

Opportunities for the MA Degree in the field of Religion

See for tables of fellowships, prizes, and internships/practica that may be relevant to this degree.