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Religious Studies

Religious Studies 2013-2014


The Department of Religious Studies offers a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Religious Studies and, together with the Iliff School of Theology, a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree.


Why pursue an MA in Religious Studies at the University of Denver?
The Department of Religious Studies offers graduate students the opportunity to study with its distinguished faculty in a program that emphasizes breadth and depth. Religious Studies faculty members are well published and have won several distinguished teaching awards. They have served in leadership roles in national learned societies and have received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies and the Guggenheim Foundation.

The program provides students with a substantive grounding in the major religious traditions of the world, as well as training in the discipline of religious studies. Through the areas of specialization, it provides students with the opportunity to develop a specific and scholarly expertise in a particular field of interest: Biblical Studies, Theory of Religion, International and Multicultural Studies, Philosophy of Religion, Islamic Studies, and World Religions. Students can use these areas of specializations to deepen their own expertise in a particular area while preparing for thesis work or comprehensive exams.

As part of broader University mandates to support interdisciplinary work and internationalization (study and research abroad), the Department of Religious Studies encourages students to embrace multiple disciplinary perspectives. It encourages students to enrich their graduate studies by taking courses in other departments, and to work with faculty outside Religious Studies. For example, students in the MA program routinely take graduate- level courses in Anthropology, International Studies, Philosophy, and Art History. Similarly, students in the MA program are encouraged to pursue advanced language training in the language(s) of their sub-field as well as modern research languages. Finally, the Department encourages students to study or conduct research abroad, as appropriate, and to seek external support in ways that will enhance their curriculum vita as well as their scholarly and professional training.

Program advantages include:

  • The opportunity to develop broad competencies in major religious traditions and the discipline of Religious Studies, while cultivating scholarly expertise in a particular area of specialization.
  • Small classes that facilitate professor-student interaction, encouraging faculty mentoring while fostering community and collegiality with other graduate students
  • The opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary training and related interests by taking courses or working one-on-one with faculty in other University of Denver departments.
  • Preparation either for doctoral work or for a professional career, with strong support from faculty and the University of Denver's career counselors.
  • Opportunities to engage with and conduct research within metropolitan Denver, a culturally and religiously diverse city with a high quality of life.
  • Substantial scholarship packages, including tuition credits and research assistant positions.

What do applicants need in order to qualify for the Religious Studies MA program?
Applicants must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited college, with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0. Applicants must meet the minimum performance standard set by the Office of Graduate Studies for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Applicants must have an appropriate background in the study of the humanities. Undergraduate courses in Religious Studies are highly desirable, but all work in related areas will be taken into consideration.
Applicants must be:

  • Academically qualified for graduate level study
  • Prepared to do coursework and conduct research that emphasizes engagement with local and global communities
  • Motivated to work collegially with faculty and other students in a community of learning

What can graduates do with a MA in Religious Studies?
The MA degree in religious studies prepares students for PhD work or for teaching and careers in journalism, government, education, and nonprofit organizations in which cross-cultural analytical skills are important. The program provides broad competencies in several religious traditions, while offering students the opportunity to specialize in an area of particular interest.

Joint PhD Program in Religious and Theological Studies

A number of graduates of the Department of Religious Studies' MA program choose to continue their doctoral studies in the Joint PhD program.

The Joint PhD Program, which the Department of Religious Studies offers in partnership with the Iliff School of Theology, is taught by distinguished faculty from the University of Denver and Iliff. The program enrolls students from across the nation and around the world. The facilities and libraries of both institutions are open to all Joint PhD students, offering considerable research and academic resources. The Joint PhD Program offers specialization in four concentrations: Biblical interpretation; religion and psychological studies; religion and social change; theology, philosophy and cultural theory. Please note that admission to the Joint Doctoral Program is a separate process, distinct from admission to the Department's MA program. For more details, please visit the Joint PhD website.