M.A. in the Department of Religious Studies

The M.A. in Religious Studies is a terminal degree program housed in the Department of Religious Studies. It is designed to give post-baccalaureate students training in the basic methods of Religious Studies and exposure to the principal fields of scholarly interest within the Department. Likely applicants may include recent Religious Studies graduates who have not yet decided on their careers, graduates in other fields who have an interest in religion, prospective Ph.D. students on a "probationary" track, and local professionals who wish to expand their horizons by pursuing graduate studies in Religion. While some graduates of this program may choose to apply for Ph.D. studies in Religion at Duke, application to the Ph.D. program is a separate process. No guarantees for admission to the Ph.D. program are granted or implied by completion of the M.A. Program in Religious Studies.

Although some students may complete it in less time, the M.A. in Religious Studies is normally a two-year program. In such a course of study, students would normally register for three courses (nine units) for two semesters, for two courses (six units) and one research component (three units) during the third semester, and for one research component (three units) during the fourth semester. The two research components are devoted to completing and defending a master's thesis. Students who choose not to write a master's thesis may instead do a total of 10 courses (rather than 8), two of which must include the writing of a major research paper. These two papers (graded “B” or better in the respective courses) must be defended before a committee consisting of at least three faculty members.

All students accepted into the MA program receive the “Religious Studies Tuition Award,” which covers approximately 45% of tuition costs for each of their two, full-time-enrolled years of study. Additional scholarship awards are based on academic excellence. Two such awards are made each year to incoming students whom the MA Director and the selection committee choose for their outstanding academic promise. Each of these “Van Rompay Scholars” receives a tuition award of $2,000 for each of their two years of full-time enrollment.

For more information about the M.A. Program in Religious Studies please contact:

David Morgan

324 Gray Building

(919) 660-3555

Applying to The Graduate School

Students seeking to do graduate work at Duke University for degree purposes must be formally admitted to the Graduate School by the dean.  The Graduate School welcomes applications from students holding a U.S. bachelor's degree (or the international equivalent) from an accredited institution. For more information, please see

The Graduate School's admissions site.


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