Master of Arts in Religion

The Department of Religion offers a flexible program of study for the MA degree. Students will complete 32 credit hours of graduate study (usually 8 courses) from a diverse and interdisciplinary curriculum. Each student will also establish expertise in a primary field of interest (such as “Buddhism,” “Christianity,” “Hinduism,” “Islam,” “Judaism,” “Philosophy of Religion,” “Religion in America,” “Religion and Education,” etc.). Students will complete their studies by writing either an MA thesis or by submitting two revised research papers in their primary field of study and by passing an MA oral examination.



Admission to the graduate program in Religion is handled jointly by the department, Graduate College, and the Student Services Office of the School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics.

Please complete the online application form for the upcoming Fall term. The online application will accept uploads of the following required application materials.

The following elements are required of all applicants:

  • Statements of Purpose
    • Academic: Please use the Academic Statement of Purpose to describe (within 1000 words): (1) your academic interests, (2) your academic background, preparation, and training, including any relevant professional experiences, (3) your reasons for pursuing graduate studies in this specific program, and (4) your professional goals.
    • Personal: Please use the Personal Statement to describe (within 500 words) how your personal background and experiences influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Provide insight on your potential to contribute to a community of inclusion, belonging, and respect in which scholars with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, abilities, and experiences can learn and collaborate productively and positively together.
  • Resume or CV
  • Academic Documents
    • Provide scanned copies of your transcripts (a complete list of all courses taken and grades received) as well as any certificates of degree completion or diplomas for all the post-secondary schools you have attended (undergraduate and graduate programs). English translations should be provided when applicable, preferably from the school attended. We will accept translations done by the applicant. They should follow the same format, line-by-line, as the original document. Official documents (original or “attested” copies) will be required if you are admitted.
    • Applicants need not have an undergraduate major in the study of religion, but they must demonstrate a capacity to undertake advanced study in this area of inquiry. 
  • Writing Sample
    • A paper or excerpt of moderate length (20 pages), or two shorter papers (about 10 pages each). The sample should showcase the applicant's academic ability.  Please upload to the online application in the Program Specific section.
  • Letters of Recommendation
    • Three (3) letters, preferably from professors familiar with your work, are required. When you fill out the online application, you will need to include email addresses for all of your references. They will automatically receive an email from the online application with instructions on how to upload their letters of reference to your online application. If they don’t receive this email or have trouble uploading their letters, they should email them to SLCL Student Services:
  • Application Fee
    • The information you submit online, as well as the application fee ($70 for domestic applicants, $90 for international), goes directly to the Graduate Admissions office. The online application materials will then be made available to the SLCL Student Services office, which will prepare your application file for the department’s admission committee to review.
  • English Proficiency Exams

    • International applicants whose native language is not English must take the IELTS or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and have their scores submitted to Institution Code #1836, Dept. #00. A score of at least 600 on the paper-based test (PBT), or 250 on the computer-based test (CBT), or 100 on the internet-based test (iBT) is required for admission For more information on language requirements, see the Graduate College instruction page.

  • GRE Scores (Optional)

    • The GRE is not required but will be considered if submitted. The GRE must have been taken no more than 5 years prior to your first semester at UIUC. GRE scores should be sent by ETS to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, institution code #1836.

Applications are due January 15 for full consideration, including all financial aid opportunities. However, we will continue to review applications while space remains available.


For assistance with the application procedure, please contact the Graduate Student Services Office. If you have any academic or professional questions regarding the content of the graduate programs in Religion, please contact Alexia Williams or Adam Newman, Co-Directors of Graduate Studies, at  or