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:
Methodology/Approaches to the Study:
Students can graduate with an M.A. in Religion via two options:
1. COURSE INTENSIVE OPTION
2. THESIS OPTION
1. COURSE INTENSIVE OPTION
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.
2. THESIS OPTION
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.
2.1 THESIS PROPOSAL
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.
2.2 THESIS LENGTH AND QUALITY
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 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.
I. Religion and Public Engagement Graduate Concentration
The Department of Religion offers a Graduate Concentration in Religion and Public Engagement as part of its Master of Arts Degree in Religion/Religious Studies.
M.A. in Religion with a Concentration in Religion and Public Engagement
Religion and Public Engagement (RPE) Concentration is unique to Wake Forest University—the only program like it in the country. Encouraging theoretical and practical exploration at the intersection of religion and public life, the concentration is open to graduate students enrolled in the M.A. in Religion Program, who want to relate their area of study to issues of public life. Students will be expect to apply their academic study to specific problems by engaging in public work through research projects, service-learning opportunities, and internships for academic credit. Internships or research projects may focus on local, state, regional, or international issues. The program has existing relationships with non-profits, governmental and non-governmental agencies in such places as Winston-Salem, Raleigh, The San Carlos Apache Reservation, Washington, DC, Chile, the Ukraine, Chile, Israel/Palestine, and South Africa. By working with professors in various specialties, students develop competence in public engagement in reciprocal collaboration with diverse communities regionally, nationally, and globally. Embracing the spirit of Pro-Humanitate, the RPE Concentration allows students to pursue their deepest interests and directs them towards community development consistent with internationally accepted standards of human rights and the highest academic standards of teaching, research and collaboration.
Graduate Students are to meet all requirements of and are subject to the policies of the M.A. in Religion (see http://college.wfu.edu/religion/graduate-program/overview-of-the-program/). REL 700: Theory and Method in the Study of Religion is required for all M.A. students, including students completing the RPE Graduate Concentration.
As with all graduate students enrolled in the M.A. in Religion, students seeking to finish with a Concentration in RPE are initially enrolled on the Course Intensive Option, but can submit a thesis proposal to finish on the Thesis Option (the thesis can be on a topic independent/unrelated to RPE Concentration or it can focus on RPE; if so, then it is advised that the Primary Thesis Advisor should be a faculty member in the Department of Religion who has worked closely with the student on RPE topics).
Graduate Concentration requires 12 hours of course work, and must include:
1. REL 632: Religion and Public Engagement (Core Course) (3h)
2. Internship: REL 709: Field Program in Religion and Public Engagement (3h)
a) If the student has already completed a significant internship or held a job that intersected with issues of public life, he or she can substitute an extra elective course for the internship requirement with the approval of the Director of RPE and Graduate Program Director.
3. One Graduate Course (3h) focused on theory and its application, taken from the “Theory” group listed below (the following are given as examples and other courses may be approved by the Director of RPE and Graduate Program Director):
a) Theory: REL 605: Ethnography of Religion; REL 636: Religion and Human Rights; REL 638: Religion, Ethics, and Politics; REL 631: Religion and Law; REL 644: Religion, Poverty, and Social Entrepreneurship
4. One Elective Graduate Course (3h) from any of the following choices (other courses can be approved by the Director of RPE and Graduate Program Director). Since these are taken toward the RPE Graduate Concentration, they will also count toward the M.A. in Religion degree, even if they do not have a REL designator.
a) REL 619: Feminist and Contemporary Interpretations of the Bible; REL 669: Radical Christian Movements; REL 679: Feminist and Liberation Theologies; REL 690: South Asian Women: Religion Culture and Politics; REL 648: Race, Memory and Reconciliation; REL 690: Socially and Politically Engaged Buddhism; MIN 790: Faith, Food Justice, and Local Communities; THS 621: Christianity and Public Policy; THS 624: Church and State in America; THS 625: Sexuality, Religion and the Law; THS 721: Freedom of Religion Under the Constitution; LAW 582: Non-Profit Management; LAW 601: Non-Profit Organization Law
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Graduate Program Director
Department of Religion
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
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Gregg Vaillaincourt – Margery’s Reading Communities: Literacy and Devotion in The Book of Margery Kempe.
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Elizabeth Beckwith – Graduated on the course-intensive option.
Tom Benza – Graduated on the course-intensive option.
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Leslie “Trey” Frye – Divergent Divine Memories: Divine National Power, Cultural Memory, and the Deuteronomistic History of 1&2 Kings.
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Kayla Wolfe – Graduated on the course-intensive option.
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Joshua Driscoll – Graduated on the course-intensive option
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Meagan Lankford – Making Muslims American: CAIR’s Portrayal of American Muslims in Public Service Announcements
Jeannette Rork – Graduated on the course-intensive option
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Nathan Shurte – Graduated on the course-intensive option
Israel Vance – Graduated on the course-intensive option
Ryan Weber – Unforgiven: The Textual Problem and Interpretation of Luke 23:34a and Anti-Judaism in the Early Church
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– Ryan is also applying to Religion Ph.D. programs for Fall ’13.
Stephanie Yep - A Hermeneutical Consideration of Islamic Jurisprudence on Same-Sex Acts
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Eric Chalfant – Thank God I’m an Atheist: Deconversion Narratives on the Internet
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Ryan Fitzgerald – Postcolonial Criticism and the Gospel of Mark: An Assessment.
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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
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Anthony DiMichele – Serving the Lord with Gladness: Situating Christian Humor in Three Historical Contexts
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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
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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
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Keely Sutton - Women in Buddhism/Women in India
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Amber Cordell – Debating Abortion Rites: Mizuko Kuyo In Fukuchiyama, Japan
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Audrey Dodson – The Ideal King In Isaiah 7, 9, And 11
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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
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Stephanie Lovett – Eternity In Our Minds Hevel In Qohelet As An Ontology Similar To Maya
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Andrea Ogier – Liminal Ladies and Ambiguous Anti-Heroes: Liminality, Ambiguity, and Mediation in Judges 14-16
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S. Charles Bower – Alexander Campbell’s Doctrine of Salvation: The Reconciliation of Grace and Baptism
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James Sturdivant - Ballad Worlds and Divine Mercies: A Study of Popular Religious Belief as Encountered in Folklore
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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
– Today: Working at the WFU Miller Center, as a tutor for athletes in religious studies courses.
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– Today: Works as a Research and Instruction Librarian specializing in Art, Theatre, and Dance, at WFU’s Z. Smith Reynolds Library.
- 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.
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– Today: Head of Special Collections & Archives and Religious Studies Liason at WFU’s Z. Smith Reynolds Library.
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– Today: Director of Outreach for Christian World Adoption, and pastor of Gethsemane Lutheran Church.
Martha Greene Eads
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– Today: Professor and Chair of the department of Language and Literature at Eastern Minnonite University.
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– Today: Pastor of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, Mt. Airy, NC.
- 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
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– Today: Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Campbell University, in Buies Creek, NC.
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– Today: Housing Specialist with CenterPoint Human Services, in Winston-Salem, NC.
E. Stuart Powell, Jr.
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- Today: Vice President of Insurance Operations for the Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina, Inc.
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– Today: Professor of Religious Studies at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas.
John A. Mann
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- Today: Retired from church ministry, but serving annually as Holy Week Chaplain for ships of Norwegian Cruise