Taking two years to complete the Master of Arts in Religion
The experience of the Graduate Department of Religion indicates that students enroll in the M.A. program for a variety of reasons. For some it is a means of being introduced to the field of religion, or to a special area within it. For others it is an opportunity to explore in greater depth a field of study with which the student has already become acquainted. For others it is a way of preparing for Ph.D. study, either by testing one's own ability and motivation or by building an academic record which will support admission to a Ph.D. program. Students may find it advisable for any of these reasons to spend more than one year in the M.A. program and to enroll for more than 30 hours of course work.
Students who intend to apply for Ph.D. admission may find it especially useful to lengthen their time in the M.A. program, since a sizable percentage of Ph.D. students have had three years of Master of Divinity work, gaining additional exposure to various fields and additional experience in research and writing. We have found that most students who enter the Ph.D. program after M.A. study take at least one more year than those who have come out of M.Div. study. It often seems preferable for such students to take an additional year's work in the M.A. program, before they are under the pressure of deadlines for the completion of language requirements and the taking of qualifying examinations.
If it seems advisable, for any of these reasons, to stretch out the M.A. program through two academic years, the normal procedure is to take a total of 36 hours of course work and to write the M.A. thesis. In order to avoid concentrating all work on the thesis in the final semester, a student may choose to register for 6 hours of course work and 0 hours for 7999 (Master's Thesis Research) each semester. Financial aid can still be received, even though the total course load is less than 9 hours, because of registration for Master's Thesis Research.