Master of Arts (M.A.) (thesis, non-thesis)

The purpose of the M.A. (thesis) degree is to encourage advanced study and research in one of the disciplines of religious studies for those who wish to become scholars or teachers, or will be engaged in some field of religious or public service. 

The M.A. without thesis is intended to ensure a student’s well rounded exposure to several religions and to several of the disciplinary approaches currently used in their academic study.

Specialization in Bioethics

An option in the M.A. (thesis) programs is the M.A. in Religious Studies with specialization in Bioethics—offered in collaboration with the Biomedical Ethics Unit. The curriculum is composed of required courses offered in the Biomedical Ethics Unit, bioethics courses offered by the base faculty or department, and any graduate course required or accepted by the base faculty for the granting of a Master’s degree. For more information on required courses, please refer to "course requirements" on the M.A. program requirements page.

M.A. with option in Gender and Women's Studies

The Graduate Option in Gender and Women's Studies (GWS) provides graduate students with a cross-disciplinary specialization in feminist, women's, and gender studies. This Option is open to graduate students at McGill University enrolled in the School of Religious Studies. During the application process, prospective students can specify their interest in the Graduate Option through uApply. There are no prerequisites to enter into the Option. However, previous coursework in gender and women's studies provides an ideal foundation for more in-depth study of and research in feminist scholarship.

Student supervision in the Option is undertaken by one's departmental supervisor who oversees student work, including choice of thesis, dissertation, or project topic. A student's Ph.D. dissertation, M.A. thesis, or M.A. research project must be on a topic that significantly engages with issues of gender and/or women and/or feminism. For more information about GWS, visit the IGSF website.

Admission requirements

Applicants must possess a B.A. with a Major or Honours in Religious Studies or a Bachelor of Theology (B.Th.), or a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree normally with a minimum CGPA of 3.3/4.0 (B+) from an accredited university or college. Applicants with fewer than 30 appropriate credits in Religious Studies or Theology are normally required to take a Qualifying Term or whole Year before entering the M.A.

Language requirements

The School of Religious Studies offers courses in primary text source languages, such as Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, Biblical Greek, Sanskrit, Pali, Tamil and classical literary Tibetan. The School does not guarantee instruction in any languages other than those mentioned above. Therefore, if a student wishes to have a language such as French, German or Japanese counted as a second language, instruction may have to be sought outside the School.

The successful completion of at least twelve credits at the post-secondary level in a language course, or successful completion of a language examination administered by the appropriate member of the School, will constitute evidence of the student’s having the required reading knowledge of the language in question.

Students are required to give their area committee evidence of reading knowledge of a scholarly language other than English. This language may be either a modern language in which there is a significant amount of scholarship relevant to the student’s area of research, or a classical language relevant to the student’s area of research. If a classical language is chosen, it must be in addition to any prerequisite language for the area in question.

Residency requirements

Refers to the number of terms (or years) students must be registered on a full-time basis to complete their program. Students are not permitted to graduate until they have fulfilled the residence requirement (or paid the corresponding fees) in their program.

Master of Arts (M.A., thesis and non-thesis)
The normal residence requirement is three terms of full-time resident study. Students may apply to do the third term during the summer of their first year. Students may also register on a half-time basis.

Time limitation

Candidates for Master's degrees must complete the degree within three years of initial registration. If the degree is pursued strictly on a less than full-time basis, it must be completed within five years of initial registration.


Under exceptional circumstances, departments may petition the university for an extension for an individual student. Extensions on time limitation are not a right, so do not count on receiving one.

If an extension is granted, you must complete all degree requirements within the new time limit specified. If you are unable to complete before the extended deadline, you could be asked to withdraw from the program and to reapply when your thesis or dissertation is completed. Students who have not been registered for a period of up to two years but have not officially withdrawn from the University by submitting a signed Withdrawal Form to the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Office are eligible to be considered for reinstatement into their programs (see Graduate policies and regulations). Depending on how much time has elapsed since you completed various program requirements, you may be asked to redo certain requirements, such as your comprehensive exams.

Please see GPS's policies on Time Limitation for more information.

Deferral of admission

Under exceptional circumstances, an admission for a particular semester can be considered for a deferral. This can be considered only if the student has not registered. If the student has already registered, no deferral can be granted. The student must withdraw from the University and apply for admission to a later term.