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Master's Programs in Religious Studies in California

This article describes several master's programs in religious studies available in California. Continue reading to find out more details of each program like concentration options, tuition rates, and general curriculum information.

California State University-Long Beach

M.A. in Religious Studies at California State University in Long Beach is available with both thesis and comprehensive examination options, which prepares students for advanced research and careers in teaching, law, or business. This public university offers a 30-units of curriculum with different areas of study such as Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Gender, the Contemporary World, and Media.

University of California - Santa Barbara

University of California at Santa Barbara offers a Master of Arts in Religious Studies with two options: a two-year non-thesis M.A. degree and a two- to three-year M.A./Ph.D. degree with a thesis option. The non-thesis program prepares students for different careers in fields such as journalism, law, education, and public policy, while the M.A./Ph.D. program enables students to earn a master's as part of the process of earning a doctorate. These programs are available with different concentration options like Buddhism, Christianity, and Religion and Culture.

Claremont Graduate University

Claremont Graduate University's Master of Arts in Religion is a two-year program that offers a scholarly analysis of religious studies as a strong foundation for religious research or productive careers in different fields. This 40-unit program offers three concentrations: Critical Comparative Scriptures, Philosophy of Religion & Theology, and History of Christianity & Religions of North America.

Azusa Pacific University

Azusa Pacific University features a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, which trains students in biblical texts, theology, and ethics for preparing them to start teaching careers in Christian schools. Students can complete this 60-unit master's degree in two years, and the university offers an option to complete up to 50% of coursework online.

Biola University

Talbot School of Theology at Biola University provides a two-year Master of Arts in Science and Religion program in on-campus and online formats. This 39-credit program covers philosophy, theology, and history by integrating science and religion, with courses focusing on topics like evolution, Christian thoughts, and the theology of science.

La Sierra University

Richards Divinity School at La Sierra University features a 48-credit Master of Arts in Religion program, which can be completed in as little as one year. Students can select their area of concentration from areas including biblical studies, systematic theology, comparative religions, Christian ethics, practical theology, and the history of Christianity.

Loma Linda University

The Master of Arts in Religion and Society program at Loma Linda University offers several areas of study like biblical studies, science and religion, Christian theology, spirituality, and social ethics, etc. This M.A. program consists of 48-units of course work including a final project for three credits.

Mount Saint Mary's University

At Mount Saint Mary's University, a two-year Master of Arts in Religious Studies is available with two concentration options: the Study of Religions and Contextual Theology; both of which require 36-units of coursework. In the Study of Religions concentration, students examine the study of religion using social scientific methods, and in Contextual Theology, students analyze the influence of theology on socio-culture and vice.

Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University features a Master of Arts in Religion program with specialization options in the Old Testament, New Testament, church history, Christian thought, and practical theology/ministry. The 34-credit coursework of this program contains an introduction to biblical interpretation, a thesis for six credits, and 20 units of courses from a chosen specialization.

University of the West

The University of the West provides a two-year Master of Arts in Religious Studies program in a full-time format, which offers three optional concentrations in Buddhist Texts & Translation, Humanistic Buddhism, and Mindfulness, Meditation, and Mind. The primary focus of this program is Asian religious traditions, especially Buddhism, and students can study history, contemporary culture, Buddhist theology, and cultural impact of religious practices.

School Name Programs Offered Tuition Cost (2019-2020)*
California State University-Long Beach Master of Arts : Thesis, Comprehensive Examination In-state: $7,716
Out-of-state: $16,680
University of California-Santa Barbara Master of Arts: Thesis, Non-Thesis In-state: $11,442
Out-of-state: $26,544
Claremont Graduate University Master of Arts: Critical Comparative Scriptures, Philosophy of Religion & Theology, and History of Christianity & Religions of North America $35,640
Azusa Pacific University Master of Arts in Theological Studies$17,592
Biola University Master of Arts in Science and Religion $11,394
La Sierra University Master of Arts in Religion $13,140
Loma Linda University Master of Arts in Religion and Society $26,880
Mount Saint Mary's UniversityMaster of Arts in Religious Studies: The Study of Religions, Contextual Theology $11,964
Pepperdine University Master of Arts in Religion: Old Testament, New Testament, Christian Thought, Church History, and Ministry $34,900
University of the WestMaster of Arts in Religious$10,998

Source:*NCES

Many schools in California offer a master's program in religious studies with various concentration or specialization options like philosophy, Buddhism, or Christianity. These often two-year programs prepare students for further religious research or careers like that of teachers or journalists.