M.A. in Interreligious Studies
The Master of Arts in Interreligious Studies is a 2-year, 48-unit degree that offers a graduate-level education in working within and between multiple religious traditions. The goals of the degree are not limited to “religious literacy”—knowledge of the beliefs and practices of a variety of separate traditions. Instead, the field of Interreligious Studies stresses the understanding of interconnections and relationships, even in the context of important differences. Knowledge of facts alone is therefore not sufficient; advanced abilities in dialogue, awareness of lived contexts, perceptions of history, interpersonal and affective skills, and experience in communities are also important.
Graduates will have completed course work in three different religious traditions as well as in interreligious dialogue and ethics. In their elective work and in their culminating project, students will focus on a particular issue or set of issues that connects at least two religious traditions.
Study of religious traditions will be approached in a way that understands religions as distinct forms of life, lived out through interacting communities. Deep convictions, core values, organic practices, and cultural contexts – these will all be considered.
In addition, students will experience and develop skills for working across religious traditions. This begins in the one required course, Interreligious Dialogue and Leadership, where students begin working on skills such as dialogical competencies, participant observation, interpersonal and affective learning, values assessment, the ability to see similarities and differences across broad traditions of belief and practice, and the ability to lead multi-religious projects in multi-religious contexts.
In order to strengthen dialogical skills, students will be expected to work in an interreligious situation sometime during their program. This can be accomplished by a practicum or internship experience, counted as elective credit. The summative exercise can be an interreligious project.
Students are encouraged to choose ethics classes and electives that emphasize engagement and action, strengthening skills for understanding and communicating across differences. Advisors will help students select issues that bridge across two or more religious communities.
The integrative seminar is taken for two semesters, with one unit of credit being awarded each semester. The second semester includes planning and undertaking the summative exercise. This class further strengthens dialogical skills and gives students a setting in which to explore relationships between the other classes they are taking and issues that arise through these comparisons. Thus the courses do not function as “stand-alone” classes; the students’ experience in one course influences their experience of another.
As appropriate to a student’s vocational goals and with his or her advisor’s consent, a student may choose to write an academic thesis as a summative exercise. In that case, the student will take the MA research colloquium as a substitute for the integrative seminar. The requirement for interreligious engagement would then be met by an internship or other project, again with the advisor’s consent.
Students select courses from Claremont Lincoln University, Claremont School of Theology, and the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, University of the West, and Claremont Graduate University to customize their degree programs to their interests and contexts.
Students in this program will be well-prepared for careers in a diversity of contexts, such as:
- Leadership in religiously affiliated non-profit organizations
- Community organizing and development
- Religious research and consulting in governmental and non-governmental organizations
- Further academic scholarship in religion and ethics
Study of Religions (18 units)
- 6 units in each of 3 traditions, except by petition
Interreligious Skills (9 units)
- Interreligious Dialogue and Leadership
- Select 2 Electives in Interreligious Studies
Ethics and/or Practical Theology (6 units)
- Every year there will be a list sent to students that identifies courses that will meet this requirement
Free Electives (12 units)
Integrative Seminar or M.A. Research Colloquium (2 units - 1 unit each for two semesters)
Summative Exercise (1 unit)
- The summative exercise, such as a master's thesis, major research paper, or project, as approved by one's advisor, must be completed within the final 2 semesters of enrollment.