MA in Religious Studies
Program Description and Objectives
The program will be overseen by faculty in the Department of Religious Studies in conjunction with the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies (AYSPS) Department of Public Management and Policy. The Concentration will address the interests and educational needs demonstrated by the employment choices of previous graduates of the Department of Religious Studies. Recent research data indicates that students who study religion often pursue careers in nonprofit administration. Given the historical connection between religious communities and nonprofit organizations, it is natural to consider how religious studies as an academic field can collaborate with the professional training offered in nonprofit management education.
An Ideal Partnership: Religious Studies and Nonprofit Management at GSU
The Department of Religious Studies program already includes several elements that provide students with experience in the nonprofit world.
• The Religion and Public Life Fellow program brings Atlanta business and community leaders into partnership with the Department for an academic year. These Fellows teach classes, bring students to their place of work, meet informally with students, and present public lectures that explicitly address how religion plays a role in their specific arena of expertise.
•Our Alumni Board has provided liaisons for students with the community, most recently facilitating internship opportunities for students in nonprofit organizations.
• The Department has also established an internship course that allows students to receive academic credit for internships coupled with intellectual reflection guided by a TT faculty member.
• The Andrew Young School’s Department of Public Management and Policy trains students in management, economic decision-making, marketing, fundraising, and financial management. While many Religious Studies students are asked to deploy these skills when they graduate and move on to Nonprofit work, they are not taught these skills in their undergraduate or graduate programs.
These programmatic elements were designed explicitly to provide supervised work experience for students preparing for careers in the nonprofit sector. The Concentration in Religion & Nonprofit Management brings together two natural intellectual partners who currently exist completely independently.
Admissions and Curriculum
The Religious Studies faculty, led by the Director of Graduate Studies, will oversee the Religion and Nonprofit Management concentration. The administration of the concentration will include:
- Admissions: Applicants must meet the admission requirements of Master's degree-seeking students in terms of test scores, transcripts, the application fee, forms, and goals statement. Admission may occur in one of two ways. 1) A candidate may apply to both the AYSPS Nonprofit Management and Social Enterprise Certificate program and the Masters Program in Religious Studies (COAS) simultaneously. Admission to the concentration is dependent on admission to both programs. 2) Alternatively, a candidate may initially apply and be admitted to the M.A. in Religious Studies program (COAS). During the first year in that program, that student may apply to the Certificate Program in Nonprofit Management and Social Enterprise in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. Once admitted, students will complete the Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Social Enterprise requirements as outlined below in the second year of coursework for the M.A. in Religious Studies (course-intensive track). The requirements for the Nonprofit Management and Social Enterprise Certificate would also be accepted as electives toward the MA in Religious Studies. At the end of two years, a student will graduate with an M.A. in Religious Studies and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Social Enterprise from the AYSPS.
- Supervision: Since the proposed concentration does not involve a thesis, no individual faculty supervision is required. The Director of Graduate Studies can supervise a student’s progress through the concentration.
The Concentration’s Course Requirements
Thirty-six hours of intensive coursework. As part of these thirty-six hours, a student successfully must complete:
Year 1 (18 hours):
1. RELS 8200 Pro-Seminar in Advanced Theory and Method (3)
2. At least one course from each of the following areas (6):
• History of Religions (Abrahamic Traditions)
• History of Religions (non-Abrahamic Traditions)
3. One course in comparative/thematic approaches to religions (3)
4. Two courses in religion and ethics/politics (6)
*Exceptions to this course plan can be made at the discretion of the Religious Studies Graduate Director.
Year 2 (18 hours):
5. One additional seminar in Religious Studies (3 credit hours)
6. Nonprofit electives coursework in the AYSPS: 12 graduate level hours)
a. AYSPS Certificate Required Course (3 hours):
PMAP 8210 Introduction to the Nonprofit Sector
b. AYSPS Certificate Approved Elective Courses (6 hours - choose two):
PMAP 8213 Nonprofit Financial Resources
PMAP 8261 Nonprofit Financial Management
PMAP 8223 Nonprofit Human Resources
c. Electives (3 hours – choose one):
Rels 6650 Religion and Ethics
Rels 6140 Religion and Law
Rels 6485 Ethics & Morality in Islam
Rels 6645 Religion and Sexuality in Popular Culture
OR an alternate 6000- or 8000- level course approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.
7. One semester internship (3 graduate level hours) offered through the Department of Religious Studies.
This course schedule brings the total credit hours for the program to thirty-six hours. Because the interests and goals of each student are distinct, students are highly encouraged to consult the Director of Graduate Studies (RELS) when selecting courses to complete the program of study.
8. Submit one paper representative of high quality graduate level research and writing. This paper will normally be written as the final paper for the elective taken to fulfill requirement “6.c” above.
This paper will be received and reviewed by the Faculty Advisor for the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Social Enterprise as well as a faculty member in the Department of Religious Studies. This paper must articulate the relevance of the graduate-level Religious Studies course to the management of nonprofit organizations. This provides assurance that the student is integrating the knowledge gained in Religious Studies with the training in nonprofit management and vice versa.
In addition to coursework requirements, students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 at the end of their first term and maintain a 3.2 GPA in subsequent semesters.