Campus Religious Studies Graduate Programs near Salt Lake City
Religious Studies Graduate Schools could award religious studies degrees at the Masters and Doctoral levels, as well as graduate certificates. At each of these levels, a graduate degree in religious studies might address complex religious, ethical, and social issues.
Religious Studies Graduate Schools may house their programs in either a university religion department, divinity school, or behavioral sciences school. Some departments don’t adhere to a specific faith tradition or teach from a theologically pre-set point of view. Students might therefore be encouraged to study a wide variety of religious traditions and forms of expression. Other universities might offer programs that are faith-based. These graduate schools might help students grow their knowledge and skills in a religious framework or in an area such as pastoral counseling.
Religious studies investigate religions, religious belief systems, and practices throughout history. It often delves into human motivation, and examines various forms of rituals and expression. A religious studies degree program might look at world religions as organic sources for values and ethics. The courses in religious studies might therefore focus on sources (texts), theories, and (comparative) religious traditions. For some general examples of course topics, see below and then refer to individual Religious Studies Graduate Schools to review their syllabus.
Individuals who are keen on finding universities for religious studies programs could find two rather distinct types of religious studies degrees. (1) research and academic programs; (2) practice and professional programs.
Students could therefore seek a program that fosters the scholarly study of religions, belief systems, and institutions. Or, look for a program rooted in theology, Biblical studies, and ministry leadership.
Some universities who offer religious studies degrees might also offer joint programs in religious and theological studies. As a degree seeker, you might therefore choose a graduate school in line with professional goals and or academic interests.
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Universities with Masters in Religious Studies programs might offer a Master of Arts (MA) in Religious Studies, Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling, or Master of Theological Studies (MTS) among other possibilities. Applicants to most programs need to have an accredited Bachelors degree.
A Master of Arts in religious studies typically stresses breadth of knowledge in several religious traditions, and gives room for students to select a focused area of study. Because of the accent placed on intellectual and scholarly research, the MA is often a platform for a PhD. However, on its own, the MA might hone cross-cultural analytical skills, which could be useful in other endeavors.
The courses in a MA program vary between schools, though a curriculum could entail 36 to 45 credits that a full-time student might finish in two years. To complete the degree, students typically take required courses that might examine theory and methods in the study of religion. From there, the MA is often flexible in that students get to choose the traditions they want to study as well as an area of emphasis. Areas of emphasis are different between Religious Studies Graduate Schools, so it might make a great differentiator for the seeker.
Some examples of focus areas include, but are not limited to:
Students often cap their degree with a final thesis.
A Master of Theological Studies program usually provides participants with the chance to reflect on Christian life and the role of the church in present-day society. Also, it might help students to develop skills necessary for effective ministry whether in churches, mission agencies, or elsewhere. Consequently, some students might choose to complete field education electives in areas such as pastoral leadership, church administration, or student ministries.
While the courses vary between universities, in some schools, they are designed to help students build theological and research skills in three major areas of study: Biblical Studies, Theological Studies, and Leadership Studies. Consequently, in their core coursework, students might examine topics such as:
To complete their degree, students may have a choice of integrative seminar, directed reading, or thesis project.
Many universities offer terminal research degrees in religious studies such as a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Theology. Applicants to some programs may need a MDiv or equivalent degree; a master's degree in religion, theology, or philosophy; or a bachelors degree with a strong background in religion, theology, and/or philosophy. Other students might enroll in a joint Master of Arts/PhD, where some of the doctoral courses could be folded into the masters program.
The structure of a PhD in Theology could vary in each school. Most programs entail scholarship in the form of a dissertation, professional development, and teaching formation. Also, students typically select an area of emphasis. This could be in an area such as, but not limited to, the History of Christianity, Biblical Studies, or Theological Ethics. Beyond this, each doctoral student may need to pass examinations in at least two languages.
In some universities, students who want to pursue graduate studies might opt for a graduate certificate program. These shorter, non-degree programs could award a certificate in addition to a Masters program in a related topic, or as a stand-alone credential. Most certificates entail fewer courses than a graduate degree in religious studies, and focus on a single topic. For instance, students may have to complete about six courses.
In some schools, a Graduate Certificate in Religious Studies could include introductory graduate-level courses in some of the major religious traditions. Students might also gain some exposure to various theories and might engage with major issues in a religious tradition or aspect of religion.
Students who pursue their degree on campus often do so with a cohort of class mates and plenty of interaction. In-person lectures could also bring opportunities for mentoring and professional development. Most universities have ample resources for research, which could be an asset when it comes to literary review and thesis preparation.
Degree seekers could look for regionally accredited Religious Studies Graduate Schools. This third-party review is voluntary, and shows that a school has met or surpassed quality measures. Also, accredited schools could be eligible for federal financial aid.
At another level, approved schools may have individually-accredited programs by agencies who themselves are recognized by the US Department of Education. This type of quality control speaks to a program’s curriculum, and may be important for students who will seek minister credentials post-degree.
Some of the possible programmatic accreditors for religious studies graduate programs might include the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, and the Association for Biblical Higher Education or the Association of Theological Schools accreditation commissions. It is, however, up to the student to see if a school has kept up their status.
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