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What's the Curriculum of a Master of Arts Degree in Religion?

Advanced degrees in religion discuss the belief systems and the issues associated with many of the world's religions. Read below to find out more about the possible course curriculum of a Master of Arts degree in religion.

Degree Overview

For students with prior education in the field, a master's degree in religion is an excellent way to continue developing expertise for academic or faith-based careers. Many schools offer programs covering a wide range of different topics, and students should investigate closely to determine if a program emphasizes their interests. Experienced professionals in fields such as business or law may also seek to enhance their careers with a graduate degree in religion, as it may expose them to diverse people, ideas and cultures from around the globe.

Important Facts About Master's Degrees in Religion

Degree Fields Religion, Religious Studies, Theology, Christian Ministry
Concentrations Available; may include liturgical studies, religion and the arts, and spirituality and wellness
Online Availability Available fully online
Possible Careers Scholar, historian, teacher, clergy, director of religious education, missionary, associate pastor
Median Salary (2018)$48,990 (Clergy)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)8% (Clergy)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Course Topics for a Master of Arts in Religion

Admission to a Master of Arts program in religion typically requires applicants to already hold an undergraduate degree, oftentimes in a related field. The program includes both core and elective coursework in theology and faith-focused topics.

Comparative Religion

Many Master of Arts programs in religion contain at least one course on the practices and beliefs of several of the world's major religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity. The sacred writings of each religion are examined in detail, and students also discuss the historical and contemporary expressions of each movement.

Religion and Politics

The sometimes volatile relationship between religion and politics is explored in this type of class. Students might discuss topics such as the way the connection between religion and politics manifests itself in modern-day America, or the Nation of Islam could be studied in detail. Various theories regarding the way religion and politics influence each other are also examined.

Women in Christianity

This broad course topic explores the historical and modern role of women in Christianity. Students might discuss the way that women and their spirituality are depicted in the Bible and the writings of the mystics. The way that the feminist movement modified the Christian tradition of women could also be examined.

Medieval Theology

This course takes a detailed look at the way in which major religions developed during the Middle Ages. Theological expressions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam during this time period are discussed, including examples of writings, art and architecture.

Mysticism

Students in this class gain an understanding of mysticism by studying the mystical texts of a variety of religions. Kabbalistic texts, the poetry of Sufism and writings of the Christian mystics are typically explored in detail.