The Graduate Program in Religious Studies

Students in the M.A. in Religious Studies program will gain a broad perspective on the study of religion that will encompass major religious traditions across the world. In addition, they will strengthen their knowledge and understanding of the subject matter through analysis of:

  • Religious texts in terms of their historical and social development and their literary value
  • The diversity of religious traditions and their significance for culture and society
  • Religious institutions and their operations
  • The individual’s religious orientation in relation to the larger society

The goals of the program are to:

  • Contribute to the continuing educational needs of professionals working in churches and other non-profit agencies
  • Provide students in Alabama and surrounding areas a place where they can pursue a graduate degree in Religious Studies without having to relocate
  • Provide an academic program that values diversity and encourages dialogue as it relates to religious studies and wider cultural and political issues of the day
  • Prepare students for careers in teaching religion in public or private high schools and colleges
  • Provide for the general public’s interest in and need for the academic study of religion

The Master of Arts in Religious Studies program is designed for any individual interested in the academic study of religion. This program is non-denominational and provides individuals an opportunity to learn about Religious Studies in a neutral setting. Any student interested in the serious study of religion is welcome. The M.A. in Religious Studies program is designed to promote learning, critical thinking, and research in an open and honest environment.

  • B.S. degree in Religious Studies or a related field from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum overall grade point average of 2.75 (4.0 scale) OR
  • B.S. in a non-related field with at least a 2.75 GPA (4.0 scale) and complete the required 6 semester hours of prerequisite courses (RE 307 and RE 308) with a final grade of B or better.


  • Have a total minimum score of 282.5 on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Applicants are required to take all three sections (verbal, analytical writing, and quantitative) with a minimum score of 140 on the verbal section and 2.5 on the analytical writing section. The GRE may be waived for applicants who hold a graduate degree.

Admission Application Package Requirements

Application packages for the M.A. in Religious Studies program will require the following components. Admission to the program will be reviewed only after all components have been submitted. Components include:

  • A graduate application for admission
  • Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work from each institution attended
  • A personal philosophy statement (Applicants should write a statement of their personal philosophy of life, which includes how graduate education fits into that philosophy. The statement should be no longer than 500 words and should include the life goals of the applicant.)
  • Official transcript/score report from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
  • Writing Sample which might consist of a research paper written for an undergraduate course that demonstrates the student’s writing and research skills.

This program will accept applications each semester. Application deadlines for future semesters will be approximately 6 weeks prior to the beginning of each semester.

Deadline for Fall 2017 application packages will be July 15.

What is the curriculum for the program?

Students may choose either a thesis track or a non-thesis track. The thesis track will prepare those students interested in pursuing doctoral degrees in religious studies or employment in research-related careers. The non-thesis track prepares students who are interested in developing a leadership career in faith communities and/or non-profit organizations and want to improve their opportunities for employment in related fields.

Both the Thesis and Non-Thesis tracks consist of a core set of 5 courses. Additionally, students in the Thesis track will complete 15 semester hours of coursework including 6 semester hours of Thesis research. The Non-Thesis track students will complete 21 semester hours of coursework including a Religious Studies project.

Religious Studies Core
RE 500 Methods/Concepts in Researching & Teaching in Religious Studies
RE 516 Interpreting the Text
RE 527 Jesus, Muhammad, and Buddha
RE 600 Seminar in Biblical Studies
RE 601 Seminar in History of World Religions

Thesis Track
9 semester hours from the courses listed below
RE 701 Thesis Research

Non-Thesis Track
RE 510 Leading Change in Faith Communities and Other Non-Profits
RE 526 Social Change and Transformational Leadership – A Comparison of Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi
RE 602 Seminar in Leadership and Community Service
9 semester hours from the courses listed below
RE 700 Religious Studies Project

Areas of Focus
Biblical Studies
(at least 1 course required from this area)

RE 509 Christian Thought in Early Centuries
RE 512 The Hebrew Prophets
RE 513 Psalms and Wisdom Literature
RE 530 Biblical Hebrew Grammar I
RE 531 Biblical Hebrew Grammar II
RE 540 New Testament Greek I
RE 541 New Testament Greek II
History of Religions
(at least 1 course required from this area)

RE 501 History of Judaism
RE 502 History of Islam
RE 511 Age of the Reformation
Additional Elective

RE 552 Problems of Evil and Suffering

What is the format for the program?

The M.A. in Religious Studies program will be offered online and in blended settings as appropriate.

Is the GRE required for admission to the program?

Unconditional Admission
A GRE minimal score of 282.5 is required for admission to the program. Applicants are required to take all three sections (verbal, analytical writing, and quantitative) with a minimum score of 140 on the verbal section and 2.5 on the analytical writing section.

Conditional Admission
The student is required to take the GRE or have a Master’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited college, university, or seminary. The GRE is comprised of three sections: verbal, analytical writing, and quantitative. The student must make the minimum score of 140 on the verbal section and 2.5 on the analytical writing section. The total for all three sections must meet or exceed 282.5.

Where can I take the GRE?

Applicants can visit for all information related to the GRE including testing dates and locations. Simply choose Athens State University as your school. This will ensure that your official score report is sent directly to the university.

What if my bachelor’s degree is not in a religion-related field?

Applicants who have completed a bachelor’s degree outside of the field of religion must complete the following pre-requisite courses before they will be admitted to the Religious Studies program.

  • RE 307 – Essentials of Religious Studies
  • RE 308 – Essentials of Biblical Studies
What is the tuition for graduate courses?

Coursework for the Religious Studies program will be offered online and in blended settings as appropriate with an affordable flat tuition rate of $325/credit hour. One 3-credit hour course would be $975. There is a Student Fee of $25 per semester. The only additional cost would be textbooks.

Will there be financial aid available for this program?

Students can apply for unsubsidized student loans for the graduate program. Please visit the Office of Student Financial Aid website for specific information.

Are there any on-site courses required?

The Religious Studies program will be offered online and in blended settings as appropriate

How long will it take to know if I’m accepted into the program?

The deadline for all application materials for the Fall 2017 is July 15, 2017. Preference will be given to early applicants.

Athens State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Athens State University.



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