Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

School of Arts and Sciences

Master's Degree in Religious Studies


33 Livingston Avenue

New Brunswick, NJ 08901

United States

Program Information

Degrees Offered:

Graduate Certificate

Format: Campus

Program Description:

The Religion Master’s Degree and Certificate Programs at Rutgers—The State University of New Jersey offers students an innovative program in the study of religion. Our distinguished faculty specialize in the following areas:

•    Buddhist Studies
•    Judaic and Christian Studies
•    Hinduism
•    Islam
•    Religions in America
•    Religion and Conflict
•    Contemplative Studies

This program is designed for:

•    Students looking for a “bridge” M.A. program to increase their prospects for future admission to leading Ph.D. programs
•    Current and prospective teachers
•    Students preparing for professional careers in fields such as law, social work, journalism, counseling, medicine, civil service, politics, and the ministry
•    Yoga teachers and devotees
•    Students seeking personal enrichment

Centered at the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers University, this master’s degree draws on the strength of a distinguished faculty that specializes in many of the world's major religious traditions, such as Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and American Religions. This program addresses several pressing needs of our post-9/11 world in critically studying core components of religion, from its most sublime aspects, such as contemplation, to its most horrifying aspects, such as violence, across historical and cultural boundaries. Students examine the historical genealogies of these components as well as their contemporary reincarnations within the context of religious modernity and secularism.


•    Strength of Scholarship. M.A. students benefit greatly from access to the resources of a major public research institution and the rich intellectual life on campus.
•    Small Classes. Enable extensive and personal interaction between faculty and students.
•    Flexibility. Late afternoon and evening classes make it possible for working professionals to pursue their responsibilities while they complete an advanced degree, either full- or part-time.
•    Accessibility. With easy access to the Turnpike and NJ Transit, the program is available to students from throughout New Jersey and beyond.
•    Educational Value. Students in the program have the opportunity to participate in capstone courses and final projects tailored to each graduate’s teaching needs.


MA students are required to take 10 courses, comprising 30 credits:
•    Every incoming student needs to take the “Theories of the Study of Religion” course in the fall semester of the first year of their study.
•    All students must take courses in at least four of the following eight areas: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, religion and conflict, contemplative studies, religions in America, and relevant language study.
•    A combined maximum of two courses may be taken at other Rutgers departments and other universities, subject to the approval of the Graduate Director.
•    400-level courses taught by the full-time department faculty may be counted toward graduate credit, provided that additional work is performed (additional readings and a 25-page term paper).

Final assessment options:
a)    M.A. thesis
b)    A Capstone Project


Acquisition of a foreign language is not required for the M.A. degree. However, to encourage language learning (which is especially important for those who want to pursue a Ph.D. in a top graduate program), we count relevant language study as one of the eight areas for students to chose from. Students need to consult with their  thesis supervisors to determine what language(s) to study and at what level. Contingent upon the availability of funds, the program might be able to finance some language studies, especially classical languages critical to the study of major religions. Please contact the department for more information.

PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS – Certificate Programs

Certificate students are required to take 4 courses, comprising 12 credits:
•    Every incoming student needs to take the “Theories of the Study of Religion” course in the fall semester of the first year of their study.
•    Students interested in pursuing a certificate in one of three areas, namely “religions in America,” “religion and conflict” and “contemplative studies,” should complete three courses in that area. Students whose course works do not fall under one particular area are awarded a more general “certificate in religious studies.”
•    One course may be taken at another Rutgers department or another university. This is subject to the approval of the Graduate Director in consultation with the faculty in that area.
•    400-level courses taught by the full-time department faculty may be counted toward graduate credit, provided that additional work is performed (typically a much more substantive term paper).

There is no requirement for acquisition of a foreign language for certificate students.


Rutgers University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

International Student Requirements:

International students for whom English is a foreign language will need TOEFL or IELTS scores demonstrating English proficiency.

Facts & Figures

Financial Aid: No

International Financial Aid: No

# of Credits Required: 30

Average Cost per Credit (Graduate): 702 USD

In State Tuition (per year): 8424 USD

Out State Tuition (per year): 14328 USD

Classification: Master's College or University I

Locale: Small City

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