The graduate program in Religious Studies at UNC Charlotte is designed for students who want to pursue advanced studies in the academic study of religion while working closely with a distinguished faculty of scholars and teachers. A Master of Arts in Religious Studies serves the following constituencies: those preparing for further graduate work in Religious Studies or other humanities disciplines at the Ph.D. level; those preparing for teaching positions at community colleges or for adjunct instructor positions at colleges or universities; those preparing for professional careers in non-academic settings; or those seeking to enjoy the intellectual rewards of a liberal arts education at the graduate level.
Program of Study
Our graduate faculty possesses expertise in the subjects of religion in the United States, ancient Mediterranean religions, Christianity from inception to the present, African American religions, “new religions,” media and religion, and the critical roles played by social factors such as race, gender, class, and politics in the study and practice of religion. Faculty members are also well versed in queer theory, social theory, literary theory, historiography, and psychoanalysis.
Applying to the Program
The Graduate School application package is completely electronic. Their staff oversees and administers the application and all of its component parts. Please do not mail or forward any application materials to the Department of Religious Studies. The Department of Religious Studies will only view and assess complete applications once the Graduate School has received and processed all of its component parts.
The application package must include: (1) an electronic application form submitted to the Graduate School accompanied by the application fee; (2) official transcripts of all previous academic work attempted beyond high school; (3) official agency reports of test scores on the GRE or M.A.T. (these must be less than five years old); (4) at least three letters of reference from persons familiar with the applicant's academic qualifications (these too must be less than five years old); and (5) an essay (statement of purpose) that addresses the applicant’s motivation for pursuing the M.A. in religious studies, with some discussion of the applicant’s research interests and professional goals.
The deadlines for applications are May 1 (for the following fall semester) and October 1 (for the following spring semester). Those wishing to be considered for financial aid and scholarships must fill out a FAFSA and should have their spring applications in no later than April 1.
The Master of Arts in Religious Studies requires the completion, with a GPA of 3.0 or above, of a minimum of 30 semester hours of approved graduate coursework. At least 15 hours of this total must be in courses open only to graduate students (i.e., at the 6000 level or higher). Students have two options for completing their degree. First, students may complete an MA Thesis option that consists of 24 hours of coursework and 6 hours of thesis work. Second, students may complete a comprehensive examination option, consisting of 30 hours of coursework and comprehensive examinations in three areas. All degree requirements must be completed within six calendar years of first enrollment in the program.
All M.A. candidates must complete RELS 6101 (Approaches to the Study of Religion) and RELS 6102 (Teaching in Religious Studies and the Humanities) with a grade of B (3.0) or above within two semesters of their initial admission into the program.
Special Features of the Program
- Small classes, seminars, and directed studies guarantee personal attention and facilitate interaction with peers and faculty.
- The endowed Loy H. Witherspoon Lectures in Religious Studies and the Alice Tate Lectures in Judaic Studies introduce students annually to at least two internationally renowned scholars.
- The Carol Douglas Religious Studies Endowment provides funds to support special projects for the students, faculty, and community.
- Opportunities for involvement in the archaeological aspects of biblical studies through licensed excavations in Israel and adjacent regions are available via Dig Mount Zion.
- The departmental Cuneiform Studies Laboratory houses research tools and a small reference library of specialist resources for the use of students interested in Near Eastern religions, languages, and literatures.
A limited number of graduate assistantships are available. Assistantships are awarded on the basis of ability and experience.
For more information regarding admission requirements or other aspects of the program not addressed in the foregoing description or other parts of this website, please contact:
Dr. Barbara Thiede
Department of Religious Studies
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd.
Charlotte, NC 28223