Master Of Arts in Religious Studies
Application instructions, admission requirements, and information about special programs are available on the Enrollment Services’ web site:
Graduate Admission: The primary criteria for admission are the same as those for University graduate admission. In addition, the applicant must have Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies, or its equivalent and have achieved a 3.0 GPA in the last 60 semester units attempted.
In addition to submitting an application to the University, applicants for the M.A program must submit the following materials directly to the department of religious studies:
- Three letters of recommendation, at least two of which are written by someone familiar with the applicant’s abilities as a student.
- A statement of purpose
- A writing sample
- Transcripts from all prior post secondary education
- A copy of the University application
Materials should be sent to:
Department of Religious Studies
California State University, Long Beach
1250 Bellflower Boulevard
Long Beach, CA 90840-2409
Deadlines for graduate applications:
For admission for the Spring semester: October 15
For admission for the Fall semester: March 15
The University encourages all prospective students (both undergraduate and graduate) to apply on-line: CSU Mentor
For students without access to the Internet, print application forms can be obtained by calling the automated application line at (562) 985-1655 or (562) 985-4145. Applications are also available for pick-up on campus.
The M.A. program in Religious Studies offers advanced work in the academic study of religion. The program was established in 2002 and is the only graduate program in Religious Studies within the CSU system, and one of the few in California. The Masters in Religious Studies prepares students for teaching about religion in high schools, community colleges and for advanced doctoral work in the field.
The program covers three broad areas within the study of religion:
Religion in the Contemporary World: Includes a careful examination of religion in contemporary societies from a variety of methodological perspectives. Current work in religious social ethics, religion and the arts, the theory of religion, and religion and society will be highlighted.
Ancient and Medieval Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Emphasizes historical work on Judaism, Christianity and classical Islam and the scriptural traditions associated with them. This area includes the study of other religions of the area and time.
Buddhist Studies: Includes the textual and historical study of Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism. The study of Buddhism in its wider cultural and religious contexts may include other Asian religions as part of the program of study.
- A bachelor’s degree with a major in Religious Studies, or a Bachelor’s degree with a major in any other field plus either 24 units in R/ST or a certificate in Religious Studies.
- An overall undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0
To apply to the program you must apply to both the university as well as directly to the department. Applications to the university are available on the university’s webpage:
The following additional materials should be sent to the department directly:
- A copy of your university application and transcript
- Three letters of recommendation (at least two from professors)
- A two-three page statement of purpose about your background and what you seek to achieve in the program
- A writing sample of some of your written work up until now
You should consult the Department directly for information about application deadlines.
- Minimum total units: 30 units of upper division or graduate study, at least 24 of which must be in Religious Studies. The remaining six units should be chosen in conference with the Graduate Advisor and must be taken in Religious Studies or in a field closely related to the student’s educational objectives. Each student’s program must include a minimum of 18 units of graduate courses, at least six of which must be in the 600 series (not including 697 and 698). All students must satisfactorily complete R/ST 501, preferably within the first or second semester of their program.
- A comprehensive examination or thesis. It is expected that most students will meet this requirement with the comprehensive exam. In rare cases, the thesis option is available for those who can obtain the consent of their advisor and the Graduate Advisor at the beginning of their program.
- Proficiency in a modern research language (French or German) demonstrated by passing either the ETS examination with a score of 400 or better or two years of course work with an average grade of B or better. Proficiency in an appropriate ancient research language (Sanskrit, Chinese, Hebrew, Biblical Aramaic, Arabic, etc.) replaces this requirement for students concentrating in premodern traditions. Exceptions to this requirement, especially for students not planning to pursue further graduate degrees, can be made at the discretion of the department.
- Advancement to Candidacy is a statement of how the student plans to complete all courses and requirements for the degree, including establishing a date and a committee for the thesis or comprehensive examination. It is best done as soon as possible and must be done at least one semester prior to the semester in which the student wishes to graduate. Students must also meet university requirements for Advancement to Candidacy (including completion of the WPE).