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The Master of Arts program in Religious Studies at the University of Detroit Mercy has been designed to meet needs for advanced study of religion in the Detroit/ Southeast Michigan area. The program welcomes students from various traditions and backgrounds and with differing career goals. It offers graduate education that requires and develops personal insight, scholarly research and critical analysis in areas of religious and theological inquiry. The program offers four major areas of concentration:

  • Biblical Studies
  • Theology and Spirituality
  • Comparative Religions
  • Religion and Culture/Ethics

Each student is assigned a faculty advisor to help design a program which best meets his/her professional and intellectual interests and needs. The program must include an area of concentration as well as representative courses from each of the other three areas. In consultation with an advisor, the student may take graduate courses in other disciplines (e.g., psychology, liberal studies) which will meet particular academic needs and interests.

Admissions Requirements

Applicants to the Master of Arts in Religious Studies (MARS) program usually must have completed 30 hours of undergraduate work in religious studies, philosophy or related humanities with a grade of B or above, and meet the requirement of an overall 3.0 undergraduate grade point average. Also, each applicant must submit an admissions essay in which s/he discusses her/his individual background preparation for this program and goals in choosing to pursue the MARS degree. Applicants lacking in any of the background requirements may be (1) asked to take the GRE or MAT, (2) required to complete further specified undergraduate courses in religious studies, and/or (3) granted probationary standing in the department after evaluation by members of the faculty and consultation with the departmental representative. Those admitted to probationary status will be admitted to degree candidacy after their satisfactory completion of 12 hours of coursework.

Degree Requirements

The MARS degree requires successful completion of 30 credit hours of coursework with at least 24 credit hours in 500-level. Each student is required to take RS 500 ("The Academic Study of Religion") within the first nine hours of MARS coursework. Further, one course must be taken from each of the program's four areas of concentration (Biblical Studies, Theology and Spirituality, Comparative Religions, and Religion and Culture/Ethics); and the student must choose one of those four areas of concentration as the focus of his/her remaining coursework.

Students may choose between two options for degree candidacy: Plan A and Plan B. Plan A requires 24 credit hours of regular course work, six credit hours of thesis research, and the successful completion and defense of a master's thesis. This plan is recommended for students entering with a strong background in religious studies, excellent research and writing skills, well-defined research interests, and/or who may plan to go on to a Ph.D. program.

Plan B requires 30 credit hours of regular coursework, plus the successful completion of comprehensive exams based upon the four areas of program concentration and the student's individualized focus of concentration.

The MARS degree program does not include a formal foreign language requirement. All degree requirements are to be completed within five years after the student begins coursework in the program. The dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Education may, for a sufficient reason, allow an exception to this rule.

Related Programs

The Religious Studies Department also participates in the interdisciplinary Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) program. In addition, the University of Detroit Mercy's participation in the Michigan Intercollegiate Graduate Studies Program permits students to take courses in area programs which offer training for church ministries, such as Ecumenical Theological Seminary's Master of Divinity program. Forms are available in the College of Liberal Arts and Education office. The Department of Religious Studies has a cooperative agreement with the Manresa Center’s internship in Ignatian Spirituality. Further information is available through the Department Chair. Students have further access to faculty and courses in other local graduate programs. However, only twelve (12) credit hours can be transferred in and counted toward the UDM Master of Arts in Religious Studies degree.

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