The M.A. Program in Religion



The Master of Arts in Religion offered by Wake Forest University’s Department of Religion provides students an opportunity to forge a unique, creative, and rigorous program of study. The degree can serve either as a terminal degree or as preparation for a doctoral program. It emphasizes the comparative and theoretical study of religion in its various traditions and forms. Reflecting the teaching and research interests of the current graduate faculty in the department, the program fosters interdisciplinary approaches, offering training in traditional and contemporary theories and methods in conjunction with substantive investigations of diverse religious traditions and topics. Students are encouraged to make imaginative use of all available resources in the creation of their own distinctive programs of study. Typically, this would involve 1) a focus on a particular religious culture/region or historical period, and 2) an approach or approaches to the study of the subject area.

Ordinarily, applicants for admission into the M.A. in Religion program have majored in religious studies during their undergraduate coursework. The Department will consider applications from students who have majored in other social science or humanities disciplines and who have focused on the topic of religion. Admission is based on the degree of success in previous courses in religion, the clarity of the applicant’s educational goals, and the general potential for successfully engaging in graduate level work within the program.

Religious Cultures/Regions/Historical Periods:

  • Judaism, Christianity, Islam.
  • Hinduism, Buddhism, South Asian Religions; East Asian Religions (China & Japan).
  • Near Eastern Languages and Literature, Hebrew Bible; Ancient Near East, Greco-Roman World.
  • Early, Medieval, & Modern Christianity.
  • Christian Mysticism, African Christianity, American Religious Traditions, Evangelical Christianity.
  • Contemporary Native American Culture & Religions
  • African Religions

Methodology/Approaches to the Study:

  • Comparative Religion
  • Religion and Law
  • Historical Studies
  • Ritual Studies
  • Linguistic Studies
  • Archaeological Studies
  • Textual Studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Ethnography
  • Gender & Feminist Studies
  • Ethics
  • International Human Rights
  • Psychology and Religion
  • Religion and Politics
  • Anthropology
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology
  • Postcolonial Studies

Program Structure

Program Structure

Students can graduate with an M.A. in Religion via two options:




The M.A. in Religion “Course Intensive Option” is the default way in which students can graduate from the program. It requires a total of 36 hours of coursework. At least 12 of the 36 hours in coursework must be in courses numbered 700 or above, and one of these courses must be “REL 700: Theory and Method in the Study of Religion.” The remaining 24 hours may be in courses at either the 600-level or 700-level. Students must also submit to a committee of 1 professor of their choice and the graduate director a final portfolio no less than a month before the end of their final semester, comprising a resume, personal statement, a selection of 3 papers (at least 1 theoretical) from any graduate level courses they have taken during their M.A., and a 12-15 page reflection paper that discusses the trajectory, methods, and personal growth across the 3 papers and the way in which the student’s views of “religion,” broadly defined, have developed. In addition, students will present and discuss their portfolio with their committee in a meeting lasting no longer than one hour. The portfolio will be graded pass/fail (with an option to resubmit) and the committee will consider its overall presentation, clarity of expression and purpose, and attention will be given to the reflection paper and the student’s ability to articulate its views during this oral examination.


The Thesis Option is available for students who wish to undertake substantial independent research and who are already thinking and writing in a succinct, analytical, and sophisticated manner. In order to write a thesis, the student must have submitted a proposal and been approved by the graduate director and primary thesis adviser. The student must also form a committee of 3 faculty (2 must come from the Department of Religion). If no faculty member in the Department of Religion agrees to serve as Primary Adviser, then the student cannot finish the program via the Thesis Option. The M.A. in Religion Thesis Option requires a total of 36 hours course work. At least 12 hours of coursework (not counting thesis research hours) must be in courses numbered 700 or above, and one of these courses must be “REL 700: Theory and Method in the Study of Religion.” A further 18 hours may be in courses at either the 600-level or 700-level (not counting thesis research hours). The final 6 hours are to be taken as thesis research (REL 791 and 792), typically in the final semester of study.


In order to write a thesis, the student must have a primary thesis adviser from the Department of Religion faculty, and a committee comprising two additional faculty in relevant areas of research (one of whom must also be a member of the Department of Religion). In addition, the student must submit a thesis proposal in her or his third semester of study (typically in the Fall, by October 15th) to the graduate program director and the primary thesis adviser. The proposal must be 6-10 pages, with a clear synopsis of the thesis argument, proposed chapters, a timeline for chapter submission, and an annotated bibliography. If the student cannot demonstrate her or his ability to pursue the thesis independently and in a sophisticated analytical manner, the advisory committee will recommend that the student continue with the Course Intensive Option to finish the program. This decision is made between the Graduate Program Director and the primary thesis adviser by November 1st.


The length of the thesis is to be decided between the student and the primary faculty adviser, but the department recommends no more than 100 pages. At minimum, the department expects that the thesis should be a publishable, article-length paper (35-50 pages) accompanied by substantial sources. It should be original work and can be a heavy reworking of a previous term paper or other research effort. The thesis process culminates in an oral examination by a committee of at least three faculty members who must assess the thesis according to the normal guidelines (see Graduate Handbook).


In addition to the University’s requirements for the M.A., the Department of Religion requires proficiency in a foreign research language relating to the student’s area of study, whether ancient or modern. Proficiency is normally a minimum of two years work in a specific language at the university level or equivalent and may include, but not limited to, the following: Hebrew, Greek, Sanskrit, Arabic, Spanish, French, German, Chinese, or Japanese. A second research language is not required, but may be advised depending on the student’s area of study and their plans after graduation (i.e., whether or not they plan on pursuing a Ph.D.). For example, students working on the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, or Sanskrit literature may be advised to learn German (the German Department offers a reading course for graduate students most summers: 001 German for Science and Humanities).

Requirements and Application

Requirements for Entrance and Graduation

All applicants should hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university. Ordinarily, applicants for admission into the MA in religion program have majored in religion or religious studies during their undergraduate coursework. Admission is based on the degree of success in previous courses in religion, the clarity of the applicant’s educational goals, and the general potential for successfully engaging in graduate level work within the program. Applicants will not be admitted if it is likely that they cannot fulfill any of the program requirements, including the foreign language requirement. Any student admitted into the program without what the Graduate Committee considers to be a well-rounded undergraduate course of study in religion will be required to take remedial coursework without graduate credit.


The deadline for applications to the graduate program are due January 15th of each year.

All applications to our program are made through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, rather than with the Department of Religion. Do not submit your application to the department.
To apply, go to the WFU Graduate School website.

Please note in addition to:

    • Statement of Interest
    • Official Transcript
    • 3 Letters of Recommendation
    • GRE Test Scores
  With regard to the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), applicants should have, at a minimum, a score of 530 or 155 (69th Percentile) on the Verbal Reasoning; 500 or 144 (26th Percentile) on the Quantitative Reasoning; and 4.0 or above on the Analytical Writing. (Wake Forest University’s GRE institution code is 5885. There is no separate departmental code.)
  • In addition, the Department of Religion requires an 8-12 page writing sample in addition to the “Statement of Interest” that should be included with the application to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. This should be a paper/essay from undergraduate work that best reflects and represents the applicant’s abilities, training, and potential for success in our program.

Financial Aid

Financial Aid

Wake Forest University provides scholarships amounting to full tuition or partial tuition. In recent years the University has provided us a teaching assistantship for Near Eastern Languages and Literature.

For information pertaining to the Graduate Program in Religion write:

Jarrod Whitaker (
Graduate Program Director
Department of Religion
Box 7212
Winston-Salem, NC 27109-7212
(336) 759-4162 * (336) 759-4462 (fax)

Wake Forest University and the Department of Religion welcomes all applications. We do not discriminate in admission or financial aid on the basis of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or national origin

Where Are They Now?

Where Are They Now?


Elizabeth Beckwith (nee Carter). – Graduated on the course-intensive option.

Tom Benza. – Graduated on the course-intensive option.

  • Currently works in the Financial Aid Office at WFU.

Leslie “Trey” Frye. Divergent Divine Memories: Divine National Power, Cultural Memory, and the Deuteronomistic History of 1&2 Kings.

  • Accepted Ph.D. Scholarship in the Near Eastern Studies Department at the University of California at Berkeley.

Kayla Wolfe – Graduated on the course-intensive option.

  • Continuing graduate course work in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan.


 Joshua Driscoll – Graduated on the course-intensive option

Bradley Johnson – Identity, Catholicism, and Lozi Culture in Zambia’s Western Province

  • Currently working as an intern for the African Christian Democratic Party in South Africa.

Meagan Lankford – Making Muslims American: CAIR’s Portrayal of American Muslims in Public Service Announcements

Jeannette Rork – Graduated on the course-intensive option

  • Currently serves as Registrar and Director of Institutional Research at Salem College.

 Nathan Shurte – Graduated on the course-intensive option

 Israel Vance – Graduated on the course-intensive option

 Weber – Unforgiven: The Textual Problem and Interpretation of Luke 23:34a and Anti-Judaism in the Early Church

  • Currently working as an Adjunct Professor of Religion at Forsyth Technical Community College and as a religion tutor in the Student-Athlete Services office at Wake Forest University.  Ryan is also applying to Religion Ph.D. programs for Fall ’13.

Stephanie Yep – A Hermeneutical Consideration of Islamic Jurisprudence on Same-Sex Acts

  • Currently enrolled in the Ph.D. Program in West and South Asian Religions at Emory University.


Eric Chalfant – Thank God I’m an Atheist: Deconversion Narratives on the Internet

  • Currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Religious Studies at Duke University.

Ryan Fitzgerald - Postcolonial Criticism and the Gospel of Mark: An Assessment.

  • Currently enrolled in M.A. Program in Religious Studies at Yale University

Joshua Goocey  – White Island in a Black Sea: An Examination of Christology and Race in a Southern Church

Sarah Lieberman – Vibia Perpetua’s Gendered Hybridity: A Critical Examination of Perpetua’s Androgynous Identity in the Martyrdom of Saints Perpetua and Felicitas.

  • Currently enrolled in Ph.D. program in Religious Studies at Drew University.

Jonathan Williams – First Student to enroll and finish joint M.A. in Religion and Law, Dual degree with Law School.


Christy Cobb – The Motif of Lovesickness in the Acts of Paul and Thecla and the Acts of Andrew

  • Currently enrolled in Ph.D. program in Religious Studies at Drew University.

Anthony DiMichele  – Serving the Lord with Gladness: Situating Christian Humor in Three Historical Contexts

Kathryn Elvey  – God Talk: Shifting Religious Rhetoric in Post-Katrina New Orleans.

Christopher Lawson – Seekers No More: Historical Sources of American Voluntaryism

Yasmine Singh  – Ghumar: Historical Narratives and Gendered Practices of Dholis in Modern Rajasthan.

  • Currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Religious Studies at Duke University.


Marcus Dragas – “Washington in Glory”: Clerical Reflections on the Death of George Washington and the Making of a New Nation

Christine Foust – “An Alien in a Christian World”: Intolerance, Coping, and Negotiating Identity Among Atheists in the United States

Caroljane Roberson – Wolves in Lamb’s Clothing: Redeeming the Images of Catherine of Siena and Angela of Foligno

Emily Weston – The Resuscitation of St. Thomas Aquinas: Catholic Bioethics and Abortion in the United States

Jonathan Leidheiser-Stoddard – Religious Land Ideologies and Violence: Gush Emunim and Hamas


Matthew Imboden – Assessing the Oppositional Discourse in the Academic Study of Religion

  • Today: Assistant Director of Residence Education at Wake Forest University and Ph.D. candidate in Higher Education at UNC-Greensboro

Linda Randall – Finding Grace in the Concert Hall: Community and Meaning Among Springsteen Fans

  • Today: Author of Finding Grace in the Concert Halls (2010) and teaching at Empire State College.


Josh Carroll – Mark’s “Way” Motif as Informed by Deutero-Isaiah: An Intertextual Analysis of Mark 1.2-3 and 8.22-10.52

Nicholas Farr – Religious Rhetoric in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Study in Comparative Ethics

Adam Pelser – Made in the Image of Man: The Value of Christian Theology for Public Moral Discourse on Human Cloning

David Tolliver – The Essence of Wine: The Meaning of “Tirosh” in the Hebrew Bible

Daniel Watts – No Poverty in Heaven: Theology of the Poor in Bluegrass Music


Jessica Devaney – A Dialogical Roadmap to Peace: Israeli and Palestinian Feminists Bridges to Peace in the Shadow of the Wall

  • Since Graduation: Produces the documentary film, Beauty in the Uprising: Israeli and Palestinian Art as Resistance.  Project Assistant in the WFU Department of Religion, and ESL Instructor at the Kaplan Learning Center in Winston-Salem, NC.
  • MA In Arab Studies program at Georgetown University, focusing on gender issues and post-conflict development in the Middle East.
  • Currently living in New York, NY, as Communications and Production Manager for critically acclaimed documentary Budrus. Also Assistant Editor/Associate Producer, Home Front Producer/Assistant Editor for Just Vision.

Diana Donovan – Elements of Emotion in the Opening Sections of the Community Rule

Elizabeth Story – Empowering Theology: The Transformation of Easter in Highland Chiapas

Stephanie Wheatley – Enemies of Freedom or Enemies of God?: A Comparative Analysis of Religious Justification for War

  • Today: Enrolled in PhD program in religion, politics, and society at Baylor University. Planning to spend next year in Cairo studying Arabic.

Keely Sutton – Women in Buddhism/Women in India

  • Today: Enrolled in Ph.D. program in Asian Studies at the University of Texas

Margaret Hurst – Having His Say: The Life, Work, Ethics, and Legacy of Henry B. Delany, Suffragan Bishop for Colored Work, Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, 1918-1928


Amber Cordell – Debating Abortion Rites: Mizuko Kuyo In Fukuchiyama, Japan

  • Program Director of Academic English and Cultural Affairs, & International Student Advisor at the University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS.

Audrey Dodson – The Ideal King In Isaiah 7, 9, And 11

  • Assistant Director, Richard Riley Institute, Furman University, in Greenville, SC.

Jason Levine – Philo of Alexandria and Empire: A Study of Philo’s Cultural Hybridity in the Context of His Social Location

Quentin Pearson – Exploring Difference in the Pali Canon: An Examination of Ideas of Self in the Sutta-Pitaka and the Kathavatthu

Charles Hall – The Third Quest for the Historical Figure of Jesus: A Comparison of Two Key Reconstructions


Lance Adams  – An Examination of Logos Theology as a Source for Soteriological Doctrine and The Cross in the Writings of Justin Martyr

  • Since Graduation: Completed a certificate in Christian Apologetics at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.
  • Today: A youth and community development worker for two social housing estates in England.

Stephanie Lovett – Eternity In Our Minds Hevel In Qohelet As An Ontology Similar To Maya

  • Teaching Latin and World Religions at Forsyth Country Day School, in Winston-Salem, NC.

Andrea Ogier – Liminal Ladies and Ambiguous Anti-Heroes: Liminality, Ambiguity, and Mediation in Judges 14-16

  • Enrolled in Ph.D. program in Religion and Literature at Boston College.


Van Lo -  For the Sake of One’s Self: A Dialogue on Self-Transformation Between New-Confucianism and Robert Kegan, and its Implications for Supervision in Clinical Pastoral Education

Derek Wittman – The Function of Warrior-Priest Imagery in 1 Maccabees

Sally Whelan -  Gnostic Inner Illumination and Jungian Psychology: The Persistence of an Ancient Religious Ideal


Ernest Koontz – The Jaguar in the Religions of Pre-Columbia MesoAmerica

James Mitchell – A Comparison of the Models of Religious Experience Proposed by Lewis Rambo and James Fowler


Camille Everhart – Hosea 1-3: The Marriage Metaphor and the Sanctification of Abuse

  • Since Graduation: Graduated from University of South Carolina School of Law in 2005.
  • Today: Defense Attorney in the Richland County, SC Public Defenders Office.

S. Charles Bower – Alexander Campbell’s Doctrine of Salvation: The Reconciliation of Grace and Baptism

  • Today: Associate Minister at Poplar Springs Church of Christ.

James Sturdivant – Ballad Worlds and Divine Mercies: A Study of Popular Religious Belief as Encountered in Folklore

Donna Morris   -  A Study of Cain Hope Felder’s Perspective of the Doctrine of Election and its Impact on Race Relations

Daniel Terry – Take Shame Seriously; or, Why a Pastoral Theological Understanding of Shame is Essential to a more Inclusive and Accurate Assessment of the Experience of Human Brokenness


Christa Fisher

  • Today: Working at the WFU Miller Center, as a tutor for athletes in religious studies courses.

 Kaeley McMahan

  • Since Graduation: Earned Master of Library and Information Studies from UNCG in May 2003.
  • Today: Works as a Research and Instruction Librarian specializing in Art, Theatre, and Dance, at WFU’s Z. Smith Reynolds Library.


Megan Moore

  • Since Graduation: Earned Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible from Emory University. Taught at Emory’s Candler School of Theology and also at Wake Forest University.
  • Today: An independent scholar living in Winston-Salem, working on several publications related to the history of ancient Israel.

Sharon Snow

  • Since Graduation: Ordained at WF Baptist Church in 1998, Chaplain at Forsyth Hospital for 14 years.
  • Today: Head of Special Collections & Archives and Religious Studies Liason at WFU’s Z. Smith Reynolds Library.


Louis Fawcett

  • Since Graduation: Earned M.Div. from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, SC, and ordained as a Lutheran pastor, serving congregations in Florida and North Carolina.
  • Today: Director of Outreach for Christian World Adoption, and pastor of Gethsemane Lutheran Church.


Martha Greene Eads

  • Since Graduation: Earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in English from UNC-Chapel HIll. Studied theology and literature at the University of Durham (England), and taught interdisciplinary courses at Valparaiso University.
  • Today: Professor and Chair of the department of Language and Literature at Eastern Minnonite University.

 James Joseph

  • Since Graduation: Earned M.T.S. from Hood Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in New Testament Biblical Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
  • Today: Pastor of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, Mt. Airy, NC.


James Garrison

  • Since Graduation: Completed a residency in Clinical Pastoral Education at NC Baptist Hospital, served as Chaplain of Hospice of Davidson County, NC, as well on relief/recovery teams in the Gulf Coast region.
  • Today: Staff chaplain at Mission Hospitals, Inc. in Asheville, NC.


M. Dwaine Greene

  • Since Graduation: Earned Ph.D. in New Testament and Early Christianity from the University of Virginia. Served as Chair of the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Chowan College, and later as Professor of religion, Provost/Dean of the Faculty, and Acting President, at Lees-McRae College.
  • Today: Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Campbell University, in Buies Creek, NC.


David Allred

  • Since Graduation: 30 years experience in the mental health field, and served on a 10 year planning commission to end chronic homelessness in Forsyth County.
  • Today: Housing Specialist with CenterPoint Human Services, in Winston-Salem, NC.


E. Stuart Powell, Jr.

  • Since Graduation: Earned a number of Insurance certifications (CPCU, CIC, CLU, ChFC, ARM, AMIM, AAI, & ARe), served as President of the Powell Agency, Inc, in Reidsville, NC, and President of the Independent Insurance Agents of NC, Inc.
  • Today: Vice President of Insurance Operations for the Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina, Inc.

Barry Crawford

  • Since Graduation: Earned Ph.D. in New Testament Studies from Vanderbilt University. Taught at University of Tennessee at Nashville, Austin Peay State University, University of the South in Sewanee, and the University of Iowa.
  • Today: Professor of Religious Studies at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas.


John A. Mann

  • Since Graduation: Earned M.Div. at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, served as Baptist Minister at three churches in Virginia, Manager of CSC Project Management Assessment Centers in US, UK, Germany, Belgium, and Australia, adjunct faculty member at Marymount University and Leland Center for Theological Studies.
  • Today: Retired from church ministry, but serving annually as Holy Week Chaplain for ships of Norwegian Cruise Line.