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Religious Studies

Master of Arts (MA)

Thesis-based program

Program overview

Religious studies seeks to develop understanding and empathy for diverse religious traditions and the people who practise them. It approaches the study of religion from a multidisciplinary perspective using methods drawn from various disciplines. The most common approaches are anthropological, sociological, historical, philological, and philosophical. In many cases, more than one method is used to illuminate a religion or a religious issue. Thus, the field is identified in terms of its subject matter (i.e., religion), and not the disciplinary approach taken by scholars. Within the field, understanding is seen to precede criticism, with critical discussions of religious beliefs and traditions developing in a normal academic manner once understanding has been achieved.

Completing this program

  • Courses: Topics include Western religions, Eastern religions, the nature of religion and critical discourses in the study of religion.

  • Thesis: Students will complete and defend an original research thesis.

  • Master's Thesis Inquiry: Students participate in a Master's thesis course tailored to their field of study.


  • Western Religions
  • Eastern Religions
  • Nature of Religion


Former students have become academics, teachers, social workers, hospital chaplains, journalist and human relations professionals some have even entered the diplomatic service.

A master’s degree in religious studies will give you the pre-requisite for a PhD.

Thesis-based program

Students are required to prepare a thesis and successfully defend in an open oral defense.

Classroom delivery

Time commitment

Two years full time; four years maximum


A supervisor is required, but is not required prior to the start of the program

Fees and funding

See the Graduate Calendar for information on fees and fee regulations, and for information on awards and financial assistance.

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Learn about faculty available to supervise this degree.
Please note: additional supervisors may be available. Contact the program for more information.

  1. Mushegh Asatryan

    Mushegh Asatryan

    Seeking Students
    Religious, social, and intellectual history of the pre-modern Arabic and Persian speaking Muslim Middle East
  2. Lindsay Driediger-Murphy

    Lindsay Driediger-Murphy

    Roman religion, Early Christianity and its interactions with non-Christian religions, Ancient divination, Greek and Roman historiography
  3. Irving Hexham

    Irving Hexham

    Accepting Inquiries
    Religion and Society
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    Clara A.B. Joseph

    Accepting Inquiries
    Creative Writing (Poetry, Non-Fiction Prose, Fiction); the Global Early Modern Period, Postcolonial Studies; South Asian Studies; Literary and Cultural Theory; Church History; Christianity
  5. Joy Palacios

    Joy Palacios

    Seeking Students
    Religious practice, culture, and literature of the French Counter-Reformation; Religious performance in the Christian tradion
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    Tinu Ruparell

    Accepting Inquiries
    Cross-cultural Hermeneutics; Religious Pluralism, Science and Religion, Cross-cultural Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion

Admission Requirements


A minimum of 3.3 GPA on a 4.0 point system, over the past two years of full-time study (a minimum of 10 full-course equivalents or 60 units) of the undergraduate degree.

Minimum education

A minimum of 36 units (6.0 full-course equivalents) in Religious Studies (or their equivalents), usually including at least 6 units (1.0 full-course equivalent) from each of the three streams (Eastern, Western, Nature), as determined by the graduate committee.

Other languages

A reading knowledge of a modern language other than English or of a classical language appropriate to the thesis research. The language requirement normally should be met before admission to the master’s program. If this is not the case, the language requirement should be met during the students’ course of study in the master’s program.

Work samples

A sample of written work (e.g. a recent research essay).



Reference letters


Test scores


English language proficiency (ELP)

An applicant whose primary language is not English may fulfill the English language proficiency requirement in one of the following ways:

*Please contact your program of interest if you have any questions about ELP requirements.


For admission on September 1

Online Application Opens - October 1.

  • January 15:  Application Deadline
  • January 25:  Supporting Documents and Reference Deadline

If you're not a Canadian or permanent resident, or if you have international credentials, make sure to learn about international requirements

Learn more about this program

Department of Classics and Religion

Social Sciences Building, Room 558
618 Campus Place NW
Calgary, AB, T2N 1N4

Contact the Graduate Program Administrator

Visit the departmental website


Faculty of Arts

University of Calgary
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, AB, T2N 1N4

Visit the Faculty of Arts website