Master's Program Information
As a small institution, Laurier offers engaging graduate experience, including the opportunity to pursue research and scholarly interests in a personalized environment that fosters a high standard of academic excellence. Furthermore, Laurier's close proximity to other universities allows students access to a wide variety of research and scholarly opportunities, including joint programs and combined library resources.
Our community of scholars ensures that recipients of Laurier masters and doctoral degrees are well-prepared to identify, to think critically about, and to contribute to the solving of problems and issues facing not just their discipline or profession, but society as well.
For further information please visit the Graduate Studies web page.
Information for Current & Prospective MA Students
Graduate Officer: Janet McLellan
As members of a Department with a long-standing M.A. program, our faculty are committed to creative teaching and strive to foster in their students the spirit of free inquiry, the determination to pose probing questions, and the critical skills and knowledge needed to study religion in today’s world. The program nurtures an interdisciplinary perspective on the study of religion and emphasizes the intimate relationships between religion and its cultural contexts.
The Department has ties to the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and one of the department members is a CIGI research chair. The Department also offers, with the University of Waterloo, a Ph.D. program in Religious Studies that focuses on religious diversity in North America.
Faculty Research Areas
Active scholars, faculty members in the Religion and Culture Department have expertise in fields that include:
• Global Christianity
• Christian origins
• Islam, especially contemporary Islamic thought
• African diasporic religions
• South Asian religions
• Caribbean religions
• Aboriginal religions
• Buddhism in North America
• Religion among immigrant and refugee communities
• Psychology and religion
• Religion and popular culture
• Food and religion
• Gender, sexuality and religion
What is expected of our graduate students?
Applicants to the MA program must have completed, or be in the process of completing, an honours (four-year) BA or its equivalent. They must meet the minimum university standard of a B average in the fourth year, and have a B+ in their major. Students who do not meet these criteria may apply for admission as qualifying students.
The Department welcomes applications from students in religious studies, and also from students in other departments in the humanities and social sciences whose training involves courses and research pertinent to religious studies.
Priority will be given to applications received by February 1. After this date, the Department will continue to accept applications until its program is full. The online application form can be assessed here: /page.php?grp_id=36&p=635.
Applicants must submit a writing sample, such as a course essay, as well as a statement of interests. Guidelines for the essay are found are found on the personal information form /documents/19771/APP_PERSONAL_INFO_FORM.pdf> that is part of the online application package.
Advanced standing or exemption is occasionally granted on the basis of work completed previously. Such standing will be considered upon written application by the student at the beginning of the program.
All students follow one of two streams in the MA in Religion and Culture: the course stream or the thesis stream. Students are initially admitted into the course stream. Admission to the thesis stream is granted upon the successful completion of an accepted thesis proposal.
Students in both streams are required to complete RE693 (Comprehensive Examination). This course emphasizes understanding of the world's religions and the academic study of religion.
In addition to RE693, course-stream students are required to complete RE698* (Research Project) and five other half-credit electives. For the Research Project, students focus on an area of study chosen in consultation with the course supervisor.
Thesis-stream students, in addition to completing RE693, are required to (1) complete four half-credit electives, at least two of which are taught by members of the Department, and (2) prepare an acceptable thesis proposal, a thesis, and an oral defence. Thesis-stream students will not be permitted to take RE698* for credit. A student cannot register in RE699 until the proposal is formally accepted. Proposals must follow the departmentally-approved guidelines. A proposal may be submitted any time after admission to the program; full-time students must have their proposal approved by the end of their second term. Acceptance is dependent upon the quality of the proposal and the Department's assessment of a student's overall ability.
Students whose thesis work necessitates the use of a second language will be required to demonstrate competence in that language before the thesis proposal is accepted. Decisions about language requirements and how they shall be satisfied are made by the student's thesis committee, in consultation with the Graduate Officer.
Course-stream students enrolled full-time normally take three terms (12 months) to complete their degree, while thesis-stream students normally take five terms (20 months).
A student's specific program, including course selections, must be approved by the Graduate Officer. All questions about the program should also be directed to the Graduate Officer.