Religious Studies (MA)


The Master of Arts with a major in Religious Studies program at 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, in addition to the one course required (RELS 5000) of all students.

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    Admission Requirements

    Applicants to the Master of Arts with a major in Religious Studies 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 they discuss their individual background preparation for this program and goals in choosing to pursue the Master of Arts with a major in Religious Studies. 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 Master of Arts with a major in Religious Studies requires successful completion of 30 credit hours of coursework at the 5000 level. Each student is required to take RELS 5000—"Study of Religion"—usually within the first nine credit hours of the program coursework. In addition, 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 coursework, 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 doctoral program.

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

    The Master of Arts with a major in Religious Studies 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 & Education may, for a sufficient reason, allow an exception to this rule.

    Biblical Studies (Must Take One Course)

    • RELS 5205 The Torah (3 credits)
    • RELS 5225 Prophets, Wisdom, and Apocalyptic (3 credits)
    • RELS 5235 The Four Gospels (3 credits)
    • RELS 5240 Feminist Biblical Interpretation (3 credits)
    • RELS 5960 Topics in Biblical Studies (3 credits)

    Theology and Spirituality (Must Take One Course)

    • RELS 5300 Contemporary Christologies (3 credits)
    • RELS 5305 Introduction to Theology (3 credits)
    • RELS 5310 The Christian God:The Trinity (3 credits)
    • RELS 5319 Classical and Contemporary Catholicism (3 credits)
    • RELS 5320 Modern Christian Theologians (3 credits)
    • RELS 5330 Theology of Karl Rahner (3 credits)
    • RELS 5340 Theology of Death and Resurrection (3 credits)
    • RELS 5370 Black Liberation Theology (3 credits)
    • RELS 5380 Latin American Liberation Theology (3 credits)
    • RELS 5550 Poets, Mystics, and God (3 credits)
    • RELS 5570 Spiritual Autobiographies (3 credits)
    • RELS 5580 Theology of the Imagination (3 credits)
    • RELS 5590 Violence Nonviolence and Religion (3 credits)
    • RELS 5600 Christian Love (3 credits)
    • RELS 5601 Sexuality and Love in Contemporary Christian Thought (3 credits)
    • RELS 5610 Modern Roman Catholic Theology (3 credits)
    • RELS 5970 Topics in Theology (3 credits)

    Comparative Religions (Must Take One Course)

    Religion and Culture/Ethics (Must Take One Course)

    • RELS 5063 Gender in Asian Traditions (3 credits)
    • RELS 5132 Religions and Global Wellbeing (3 credits)
    • RELS 5390 Ecology and Justice (3 credits)
    • RELS 5400 Social Ethics (3 credits)
    • RELS 5401 Christian Ethics (3 credits)
    • RELS 5430 Ethics and Economic Theories (3 credits)
    • RELS 5440 Gender and Religion (3 credits)
    • RELS 5470 Christian Social Thought (3 credits)
    • RELS 5480 Justice: Contemporary Issues and Theories (3 credits)
    • RELS 5500 Religion and Psychology (3 credits)
    • RELS 5620 Religion and Film (3 credits)
    • RELS 5630 Religion, Health and Healing (3 credits)
    • RELS 5700 Sex, Race, and Class: Feminist/Womanist Ethics (3 credits)
    • RELS 5980 Topics in Ethics (3 credits)

    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.


    Related Programs

    The Religious Studies Department also participates in the University’s interdisciplinary Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) program. In addition, University of Detroit Mercy's participation in the Michigan Intercollegiate Graduate Studies Program permits students to take courses in several other area programs. Guest student forms are available in the College of Liberal Arts & Education office. However, only 12 credit hours can be transferred in and counted toward the Detroit Mercy Master of Arts with a major in Religious Studies. 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. Finally, the Master of Arts with a major in Religious Studies program has entered into a consortium agreement with the Ecumenical Theological Seminary (ETS) in Detroit, which allows students to register and receive credit at Detroit Mercy for courses taken at ETS.

Program Contact Information

Associate Professor and Department Chair: Todd Hibbard, Ph.D.
Briggs Building, Room 332
McNichols Campus

Telephone: 313-993-1088
Fax: 313-993-1166

Program Website