Master of Arts (M.A.)

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.

Programs

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 Feminists 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.

Requirements

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, and classical literary Tibetan. The School relies upon other McGill units for instruction in languages other than those mentioned above.

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.

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 Masters 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.

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

Courses

Thesis

Candidates are required to complete satisfactorily a minimum of six, one-term courses (18 credits) and write a thesis (27 credits) embodying the results of their research. The minimum pass mark in courses is B- for M.A. students.

All students must consult with an advisor in the chosen area of study for selection of courses before registration.

Required Thesis Courses (27 credits)

RELG 688 Thesis Research 1 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


RELG 689 Thesis Research 2 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


RELG 698 Thesis Research 3 9 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


RELG 699 Thesis Research 4 12 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

Required Course (3 credits)

RELG 645 Methods in Religious Studies 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

Complementary Courses (15 credits)
15 credits selected from the 500 or 600 level course accepted by the School of Religious Studies for the granting of the Master’s degree.

Non-thesis

The program requires completing a total of 45 credits taken at the 500 or 600 level. The student is required to take 36 credits of course work, normally by taking four courses per semester for three semesters. The remaining nine (9) credits are to be earned by writing three research papers, each based on a reading list. Of these papers, one is to be in one specific religious tradition, a second, in another religious tradition different from the first, and the third, in methods used in the comparative study of religions. Each of these papers is worth three credits and each is graded on a PASS/FAIL basis.

A non-thesis student, who normally does course and graduate work in more than one field and therefore normally does not have a supervisor in one specific field, falls either under the responsibility of an area, such as presently is the case with Asian Religions as well as with the S.T.M. program, or is directly supervised by the chair of the graduate committee.

Upon entry into the M.A. (non-thesis) program, the student should immediately consult with the Area Advisor. They will advise the student on selection of courses and on the three research papers, decide what languages are required, and be responsible for receiving the Graduate Student Research Progress Report.

Research Project (9 credits)

RELG 660 M.A. Research Paper 1 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


RELG 661 M.A. Research Paper 2 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


RELG 662 M.A. Research Paper 3 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

Required Courses (6 credits)

RELG 555 Honours Seminar 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


RELG 645 Methods in Religious Studies 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

Complementary courses (30 credits)
Ten courses selected from the 500 or 600 level courses accepted by the School of Religious Studies for the granting of a Master's degree. All students must consult with the advisor in the chosen area of study for selection of courses before registration. The minimum pass mark in courses is (B-) for M.A. students.

Specialization in Bioethics

The curriculum is composed of required courses (6 credits) offered in the Biomedical Ethics Unit, bioethics courses (6 credit minimum) 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 a total of 21 credits. A minimum of 45 credits is required including the thesis.

Required courses (12 credits)

BIOE 680 Bioethical Theory 3 CreditsLimited Enrolment
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


BIOE 681 Bioethics Practicum 3 CreditsLimited Enrolment
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


RELG 571 Ethics, Medicine and Religion 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


RELG 645 Methods in Religious Studies 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

Complementary courses (9 credits)
Nine (9) credits selected from the 500 or 600 level are to be selected in consultation with the supervisor from graduate courses offered or accepted by the School of Religious Studies for the granting of a Master's degree. The minimum pass mark in courses is 65% (B-) for M.A. students.

Thesis component-required (24 credits)

BIOE 690 M.Sc. Thesis Literature Survey 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


BIOE 691 M.Sc. Thesis Research Proposal 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


BIOE 692 M.Sc.Thesis Res Progress Rep 6 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


BIOE 693 M.Sc. Thesis 12 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

Specialization in Gender and Women's Studies

A minimum of 45 credits is required, including the thesis.

Required courses (33 credits)

RELG 645 Methods in Religious Studies 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


RELG 688 Thesis Research 1 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


RELG 689 Thesis Research 2 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


RELG 698 Thesis Research 3 9 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


RELG 699 Thesis Research 4 12 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


WMST 601 Feminist Theories and Methods 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

Complementary courses (12 credits)
Twelve (12) credits selected from the 500 or 600 level are to be selected in consultation with the supervisor from graduate courses offered or accepted by the School of Religious Studies for the granting of a Master's degree. The minimum pass mark in courses is 65% (B-) for M.A. students.

Must include within (12 credits)

WMST 602 Feminist Research Symposium 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


or
3 credits of another 500- or 600-level course in Gender and Women’s Studies.

Advising

All students must consult with an advisor in the chosen area of study for selection of courses before registration.

Thesis supervision for students in the specialization is provided by a participating faculty member in the program. Those students whose supervisors are not appointed to a student’s base discipline will have a co-supervisor appointed from the base discipline. Thesis examination will be conducted according to the base discipline norms. These base disciplines norms are set by, for example, the Department of Philosophy, the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Law, and the School of Religious Studies.