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Graduate Catalog 2016/2017

Religious Studies (REL)

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Master of Arts (M.A.)
CIP Code: 38.0201
College of Arts and Sciences (AS)
Total Minimum Program Hours Required (Post Bachelor's Degree): 36

Contact Information:
College of Arts and Sciences
Religious Studies Department (REL)
4202 E. Fowler Avenue CPR107
Tampa FL  33620

Program Director or Coordinator:
Cass Fisher
Phone: 813-974-0445


Faculty Search: Arts and Sciences Faculty List

Program Information

The M.A. degree in Religious Studies provides opportunities for students with backgrounds in the scholarly study of religion to expand their knowledge of the social, cultural, and historical contexts of religion, to develop a greater in-depth knowledge of particular religious traditions, and to acquire proficiency with a wide variety of pertinent methodologies and theoretical perspectives. This degree serves the needs of students interested in teaching or counseling. It will be of special value to those interested in pursuing a doctorate in religious studies. It will be of special value to those interested in pursuing a doctorate in religious studies.

Major Research Areas
Biblical Studies, Biblical Archaeology, Christianity, Judaism, Mysticism, Philosophy of Religion, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Chinese Medicine, Religion in Culture and Society, African Religion, African-American Religion, Afro-Caribbean Religion


Accreditation Information:

Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of College and Schools.


Admissions Information

Admission Deadlines

There is an established University deadline for the submission of admission application materials. Programs may have earlier deadlines than the University deadline. The deadlines reflected below are the earliest of the two deadlines. Graduate Programs may continue to accept and process applications after the published deadline if space exists within the program. Check with the Program for availability.

Application Deadline (domestic application)

Fall: February 15
Spring: October 15
Summer: ---

International Students

Foreign applicants who are outside the U.S. are required to apply for a visa. Depending on the country of origin, this may take a few months. So the deadlines for these international applicants may be earlier than the Program deadline and these applicants must apply prior to both deadlines. They are strongly encouraged to apply as early as possible. Foreign applicants who are in the U.S. and are currently on a visa may use the domestic application deadline dates. In addition to meeting the published application deadline for the Program of interest, all immigration documents should be submitted as soon as possible, but must be on file at USF no later than the following processing deadlines:

Fall: February 15
Spring: September 15
Summer: ---

Admission Requirements

You must comply with general University policies and meet general University Admission requirements in addition to those listed below.

Must meet University requirements (see Graduate Admissions) as well as requirements listed below.

Program Admission Requirements

Same as university plus:

  • Three (3) letters of recommendation, and
  • A writing sample
  • A personal statement (1-3 pages, double-spaced)
  • GRE required, but no minimum specified

Admissions Status: Apply


Program Degree Requirements

Students select a major professor and develop a plan for completing a minimum of 36 credit hours. The thesis track requires six (6) of these credits be devoted to a thesis project. The non-thesis track requires that all 36 credits come from graduate seminars. The plan of study is subject to approval of the Graduate Committee. A majority of these courses will be in religious studies, although the plan may include approved courses in other departments. No more than 6 credit hours of 4000-level courses may be counted for graduate credit. There is no uniform language requirement; however, language skills may be required for particular areas of study. All students are required to demonstrate expertise in at least two religious traditions, as well as satisfactorily complete a written, comprehensive examination wherein they demonstrate competence in:

  • pertinent theoretical issues and research methodologies
  • the analysis and interpretation of related texts, artifacts, and activities
  • social and historical contexts of the religions studied

The Department of Religious Studies "Graduate Student Handbook" should be consulted for additional information about basic requirements and specific procedures.








Theory and Methods in Religious Studies


Courses in Western Religions (Christianity, Judaism, or Islam)
Courses in Eastern Religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, or Confucianism)


Elective Requirements


No more than six (6) hours may come from independent study/directed reading.
No more than six (6) hours may come from classes below 6000-level.
No more than six (6) hours may come from departments other than Religious Studies.




The student wishing to receive an M.A. degree without a thesis is required to take a minimum of 36 credits. The will complete the core requirements and twenty-one (21) hours of elective credits. The student will also pass a comprehensive exam.

The student will pass a comprehensive exam prior to defending the master's thesis.





Thesis: Master's


The student wishing to receive an M.A. degree with a thesis is required to take a minimum of 36 credits. They will complete the core requirements and fifteen (15) hours of elective credits. They will also complete a minimum of six (6) credits of REL 6971. They will research, write, and successfully defend the master's thesis before a committee of three professors.


Accelerated Degree Program
BA in Religious Studies / MA in Religious Studies

This program allows B.A. majors in Religious Studies to take graduate courses in the MA degree in Religious Studies during their senior year. These shared credits will be applicable to the MA degree, thus accelerating the time to completion, with successful students able to earn the MA degree in two additional semesters beyond the completion of the BA degree.

This accelerated program shares 12 credits between already existing degrees:
BA in Religious Studies
MA in Religious Studies (non-Thesis)

Admission Requirements
For admission to the program, a student must:

    • have completed at least 15 hours in the Religious Studies undergraduate major;
    • have a minimum undergraduate 3.33 GPA overall; and
    • have a minimum undergraduate 3.5 GPA in the major.
    • Application to the Program may be made by any student who has satisfied the minimum requirements.

Applications should be addressed to the Religious Studies Graduate Program Director and should include a statement by the student affirming satisfaction of minimum requirements (with supporting documentation) and a letter of recommendation from a Religious Studies faculty member familiar with the students academic performance.

Degree Requirements
BA in Religious Studies refer to Undergraduate Catalog for requirements
MA in Religious Studies see requirements above

Shared Requirements
Twelve (12) hours of graduate credit may be shared as follows:
REL 4931 (Senior Seminar) is satisfied by FLG 6035 (Theory and Methods in Religious Studies)
9 elective hours at the 4000 level are satisfied by 9 elective hours sat the 6000 level

Other Information

    • No grade lower than a B will be accepted in a graduate course in the BA/MA program. Students earning less than a B in a graduate course must retake the course and earn a B or higher to apply it to their graduate degree. Failure to earn at least a B in a graduate course will result in academic review by the graduate program. Failure to maintain a minimum 3.00 GPA will result in academic probation, according to the procedures of the USF Office of Graduate Studies.
    • To be considered for acceptance into the Accelerated BA/MA in Religious Studies, students must have completed minimum of 15 credits in the Religious Studies undergraduate major.
    • Students must have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.33 overall and a minimum GPA of 3.5 in the Major to be eligible for the accelerated degree program.
    • A comprehensive plan of study to complete the integrated BA/MA program will be developed with the guidance of an advisor and a faculty member.





College Degree Requirements

Refer to the College Section of theGraduate Catalog for College requirements and information.


USF Degree Requirements

See USF Degree Requirements —


Financial Assistance

Financial Aid

Fellowships & Scholarships

Graduate Assistantships


Registration Process

First, contact your graduate program advisor for guidance courses to register for. Obtain any electronic course permit if necessary. Register for the new student orientation online at Then go to the link to OASIS, USF's on-line registration system to register for your classes. Follow the directions given on-line.

To access online course materials, students must have a USF NetID (e-mail account). Please visit: to obtain your NetID.

New students, including those studying online, may obtain a USFCard. Please visit: to obtain your USFCard.

Tuition and fees: Fees are determined by the level of the course. Please visit Cash Accounting, Controller's Office, for information on tuition and fees.


Graduate Course Information

Use the list below to lookup graduate courses related to this program in the USF Course Inventory:

REL6035, REL6971,