This multidisciplinary program seeks to prepare students with both knowledge of a religious world and the tools to study that world, including language training where appropriate. The program for each candidate for the Master of Arts degree in religious studies consists of 32 points of course work (eight courses) in addition to either a thesis project or an exam. All students are required to take RELST-GA 1001, Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion (4 points). The other seven courses (28 points) are elective on religious life and practice combining a disciplinary and a cultural focus. Courses often speak to both areas of study (e.g., History of 19th-Century American Christianity uses a historical approach to cover religious life in the United States). Therefore, a student’s course trajectory will be worked out with close faculty advice. By graduation, students should have a grasp of the tools of at least one disciplinary focus and a working knowledge of at least one cultural area.
In fulfillment of the degree, students may elect to complete a thesis paper as their capstone project. Typically before their final semester, students will secure a thesis adviser from among either the Religious Studies faculty or faculty from another department at NYU. Together with this adviser, the student will produce a thesis paper to be reviewed by two faculty members, one of whom must be in the Religious Studies program. Although the thesis paper is not graded, students may elect to enroll in M.A. Thesis Research, RELST-GA 2901 or 2902, (with departmental permission) for a grade as they work toward completion of the paper. As an alternative to the thesis, students may instead choose to take a written comprehensive exam as their capstone project. This requires securing an examination adviser with whom the student will design a set of questions around their particular field of study. The exam will be administered in the student’s final semester, and will receive either a grade of “P” (pass) or “F” (fail). Students will not receive credits for completion of the exam; they must have completed, or be in the process of completing, the required 32 credits at the time of examination.
Journalism Concentration: As religion appears with growing force in the political, economic, social, and cultural life of a globalizing world, its representation in various media, electronic and print, likewise grows in importance. The Program in Religious Studies has joined forces with the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute to provide a concentration within the graduate program that provides education and training for students seeking careers as professional newspaper, magazine, or broadcast journalists with a special expertise on religion life. The area of study draws on courses offered by both the Program in Religious Studies and the Journalism Institute. These courses are intended to provide students with the theoretical tools necessary to examine modern religious life and the issues that surround it in conjunction with training in journalistic writing, research, and ethics. Admission to the concentration will be made at the discretion of both the Program in Religious Studies and the Journalism Institute. 36 total points are required for the M.A. in Religious Studies with a concentration in Journalism. Required courses in religious studies (16 points total) are: (1) Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion, RELST-GA 1001, (2) Religion as Media, RELST-GA 3397, and two elective courses focusing on the study of religion. Required courses in journalism (20 points total) are: (1) Writing, Research, and Reporting Workshop I and II, JOUR-GA 1021, 1022. (2) Introduction to Literary Reportage, JOUR-GA 2048 and (3) Portfolio Workshop I and II, JOUR-GA 1044, 1045. The requirements for this concentration also include a final project in long-form journalism, an article aimed at a sophisticated general readership in expository, explanatory, or investigative form on a subject related to religious life.