Master of Arts in Religion
The purpose of the program is the academic (rather than parish ministry) study of religion in order to prepare students for one or more of the following possibilities:
- Meeting Ph.D. entrance requirements;
- College teaching on the freshman and sophomore levels;
- Teaching in private schools.
The Master of Arts in Religion program is a 36-semester-hour program. It includes eighteen hours taken from a common core offered by the Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy. Students select an additional twelve hours in the department in a Biblical Studies/Languages concentration, or they select a concentration outside the department in the School of Psychology and Counseling, English department, School of Divinity, or School of Education (or a combination of the areas). The Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy must approve these concentrations. Students must also meet all requirements established by the departments/schools involved for taking courses outside of the Department of Religious Studies. Students also select six hours from one of two tracks: the research track (a research seminar and thesis) or the teaching track (a pedagogy course and an internship in university teaching).
Students enter the program only in the fall semester of each academic year. To apply for initial admission to graduate study, the applicant should hold a bachelor's degree in Religious Studies from a regionally accredited institution of higher learning with a minimum 2.75 grade point average and:
- Submit an application,
- Arrange for an official transcript of all previous academic work beyond high school to be sent directly from each institution attended. The Privacy Act requires that each student request in writing that transcripts be released to the Graduate School Office,
- Arrange for submission of scores on Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT),
- Submit three professional references on Gardner-Webb Graduate School reference forms,
- Submit a 15-20 page research paper with documented research on a topic in the field of Religious Studies. This essay can be something the applicant has written previously for an academic assignment. The essay must be submitted electronically in Rich Text Format by email to the Graduate School.
- Demonstrate proficiency in the biblical languages typically through three semesters of Greek and three semesters of Hebrew,
- Participate in a successful departmental interview,
Students lacking the appropriate undergraduate background or language proficiency may be admitted on a probationary status until prerequisites are met through the completion of a prescribed program.
A Master of Arts in Religion will prepare you for future graduate studies and allow you the opportunity to teach at the high school and freshman and sophomore undergraduate levels.
The Master of Arts in Religion program is designed to meet the following goals:
- Graduate students will develop the research and writing skills essential for scholars in the field of religious studies.
- Graduate students will become conversant on the philosophical assumptions, classical and modern theories, and current research in the field of religious studies.
- Graduate students will demonstrate proficiency in expressing scholarly ideas through either a written thesis or a supervised teaching experience.
The MA in Religion consists of a common core area (18 hours), a concentration in either Biblical Studies/Languages or an out-of-department concentration (12 hours), and a choice of an advanced research track or a teaching track (6 hours).
The 18 hour common core classes would consist of the following:
RELI 600: Research Seminar (3 hrs.)
RELI 605: Biblical Studies Seminar (3 hrs.)
RELI 640: Theological Studies Seminar (3 hrs.)
RELI 660: World Religions Seminar (3 hrs.)
RELI 680: Religion and Literature Seminar (3 hrs.)
One of the following three:
RELI 630: Historical Studies Seminar (3 hrs.)
RELI 650: Philosophy of Religion Seminar (3 hrs.)
RELI 670: Psychology of Religion Seminar (3 hrs.)
The 12 concentration hours can be attained in one of two possible ways:
A. “Biblical Studies/Languages” Concentration within the Department consisting of the following four classes:
RELI 610: Advanced Hebrew Exegesis Seminar (3 hrs.)
RELI 620: Advanced Greek Exegesis Seminar (3 hrs.)
RELI 615: Old Testament Seminar (3 hrs.)
RELI 625: New Testament Seminar (3 hrs.)
B. Out–of-Department Concentration consists of 12 hours of approved classes taken in one of the following program areas (or a combination of the areas): the Divinity School, the School of Education, the School of Psychology, or the English Department.
At the conclusion of the first 30 hours of the program, students will take comprehensive exams covering their coursework. Satisfactory completion of exams is required before commencing the last six hours of the program in either the Advanced Research Track or the Teaching Track.
- The six-hour Advanced Research Track is encouraged for those individuals who are giving serious consideration to pursuing Ph.D. studies. The student is enrolled in RELI 695: Thesis for two semesters (or more if additional time is needed to complete the Thesis). The first semester is focused on research and producing a 6-10 page Thesis Prospectus. In the second semester, the students will work toward the completion of an 80-120 page Thesis.
- The six-hour Teaching Track is encouraged for those individuals who are interested in teaching, whether in a high school or college setting. The student will enroll in RELI 685: Religious Instruction Seminar, a course in pedagogical methods, and RELI 690: Graduate Internship, a course that provides an opportunity for supervised classroom instruction where the student works alongside a departmental professor in either an Old Testament Survey or New Testament Survey class.
In order to graduate, all students in the program must pass comprehensive written examinations on their coursework. Students in this track must pass a successful oral defense of their thesis. Students in the teaching track must pass a successful written or oral defense of their internship.