The University of Illinois offers a MA in Religion at our Urbana-Champaign campus. The Department of Religion is now accepting applications for its MA program. Applications are due January 15 for full consideration; however, we will continue to review applications while space remains available. Learn more about how to apply!

Our MA allows you to build expertise in Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, US religious history, as well as ancient and modern languages. Our program also encourages MA students to expand their knowledge of religion outside of their area of expertise through coursework and teaching opportunities. Our MA program involves sustained experiences teaching world religions courses to undergraduates, and critical reflection on the meaning and end of such courses. Graduates of our MA program generally obtain at least four semesters of teaching experience. This teaching experience typically includes direct classroom experience of leading 2 or 3 discussion sections of 30 students once a week as well as experience grading written assignments.

Qualified MA applicants receive tuition waivers and living stipends through an assistantship. Teaching assistantships are subject to the collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois and the Graduate Employees’ Organization IFT/AFT 6300. Many of our graduates go on to study in top PhD programs around the country.

Since the beginning of our M.A. program in 2012, our graduates have been admitted to Ph.D. programs at Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, UT-Austin, the University of Chicago, Princeton, USC, the University of Toronto, Arizona State University, Florida State University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Illinois. A number have also entered the School of Information Science’s Library Science program at the University of Illinois

Each year, the Marjorie Hall Thulin Prize for Excellence in the Study of Religion will  be awarded to an outstanding Master’s student in Religion. Click here for a list of prior awardees. 

If you have any questions, you can contact Alexia Williams or Adam Newman, Co-Directors of Graduate Studies, at  or

For testimonials from alumni, click here

For video introductions from our faculty, click here

Requirements for the MA

  • 32 credit hours of graduate course work (total) at the 400 or 500 level. 
  • 12 hours (three courses) must be at the 500-level
  • REL 510 (Introduction to Graduate Studies in Religion)
  • Primary field of study (must be established in consultation with Director of Graduate Studies; minimum of two courses in primary area of study)
  • Students must meet the foreign language requirement (reading proficiency in a foreign language relevant to the student's field of study)
  • M.A. thesis or two revised seminar papers (students writing M.A. thesis may register for up to 8 hours of M.A. thesis credit)
  • M.A. examination (based on course work and research)
  • 24 of the 32 required credit hours must be in, or cross-listed with, the Religion department

Requirements for the Graduate Minor in Religion

The graduate minor in Religion is designed for graduate or professional students in other disciplines who desire to complement their degree program with a study of Religion. The Minor will consist of any coherent set of at least 12 graduate hours of courses that is approved by the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Religion.  It will include at least one graduate seminar in the Department of Religion.  The successful completion of a minor is noted on the student’s transcript.  For admission to the program contact Alexia Williams or Adam Newman, Co-Directors of Graduate Studies, at  or

  • 4 credit hours of any graduate seminar in Religion
  • 8 credit hours of graduate electives in Religion at the 400 level or above
  • In addition to the minor requirements, students must also complete the requirements of their major degree. The major department determines which and how many minor hours may also be applied to the major degree. Please contact your department for more information.