Master of Arts in Religious Studies


We now have an online pathway to a master’s degree in Religious Studies!*

*However, timely completion of your MA degree is dependent on the availability of online courses.

Master Of Arts in Religious Studies

Why Get an M.A. in Religious Studies at CSULB?

CSULB RST MA Flyer Spring 2024The Religious Studies M.A. at CSULB is the only M.A. in Religious Studies offered in the entire CSU system. That make it the least expensive Religious Studies M.A. in the entire state of California. It is a “stand-alone” M.A. program–one of about fifteen in the U.S. –which means that it is not an afterthought or consolation prize in some other degree program. We are going to give you personal attention that prepares you for the next level. An M.A. from CSULB can do what the gravitational field of Mars can do for a space probe on the way to Pluto. You can use our gravitational field to sling you into orbit for a better graduate program (if you want a Ph.D. or some other advanced degree) or career.

Why is this so? First of all our graduated M.A.s have gone on to good Ph.D. programs–@ Heildelberg, Edinburgh, University of California, etc. You have a chance to polish your writing skills and learn languages that make you more attractive to such schools.Good schools want you to have tackled research and target languages. We offer Nahuatl; Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Modern Hebrew, Russian, Spanish, Vietnamese at the campus

Second, you learn how to learn things fast, well, and critically. In the world of knowledge-based economies, you have the basic skills for any knowledge-based career. You can discern quickly what is garbage, what is fact-based, and what is possible. Our graduates have become entrepreneurs, writers, social activists, and religious leaders.They innovate and adapt.

Third, we take your interest in Religion seriously and know that you want to grow as a person while you are learning. That means, whatever your religious position–from Atheist to Zoroastrian, Christian, Muslim, or Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, or Sikh, Neo-pagan or “None,” Fundamentalist or Progressive–you are welcome here. This means that you will meet people with religious positions that are different from your own and have conversations that you could not have imagined in a parochial program.

How to Get Admitted to the M.A. Program:


Applicants must submit a graduate application to the University’s Office of Enrollment Services to pursue post-baccalaureate study. General application instructions and admission requirements are available on the Enrollment Services’ web site: Graduate ProgramsAfter the Office of Enrollment Services approves the application, the Religious Studies Department will receive it and evaluate it.

The primary criteria for admission to the Religious Studies department are the same as those for University graduate admission. The applicant must have a Bachelor’s degree, ideally in Religious Studies, or in a related Humanities or Social Sciences department and have achieved at least a 2.5 GPA in the last 60 semester units attempted. Three letters of recommendation also need to be submitted online, two of which should be from the instructors in the undergraduate major. Applicants must submit online a set of complete and official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended to the Office of Enrollment Services.  You must also submit a writing sample and a statement of purpose through CalState Apply online.

Persons without basic Religious Studies courses may be admitted upon the condition of making up the 6 units units through additional coursework, or they may do a certificate in Religious Studies first before applying to the M.A..

Please email questions to Dr. Jon R. Stone, Graduate Advisor, at


November 1, 2023 for Spring 2024

June 1, 2024 due date for Fall 2024


1. Minimum total units: 30 units of upper division or graduate study, at least 24 of which must be in Religious Studies. The remaining six may be in Religious Studies or another field of study related to Religious Studies and/or the candidate’s educational interests. Each student’s program must include a minimum of 24 units of graduate courses, at least twelve of which must be in the 600 series (not including R/ST 697 and 698). All students must satisfactorily complete R/ST 601.

2. A thesis or comprehensive examination.

3. Proficiency in a modern research language (such as German or French) demonstrated by passing either the ETS examination with a score of 400 or better or two years of course work with an average grade of “B” or better. Proficiency in an appropriate ancient research language (Sanskrit, Biblical Aramaic, Hebrew, Nahuatl, Chinese, etc.) replaces this requirement for students concentrating in Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Religions, in Buddhist Studies or Indigenous American Religions. Exceptions to this requirement are rare, but may be made at the discretion of the Graduate Studies Committee.

4. Advancement to Candidacy is a statement of how the student plans to complete all courses and requirements for the degree, including establishing a date and a committee for the thesis or comprehensive examination. It is best done as early as possible. Students taking a comprehensive examination must be advanced to candidacy no later than the semester preceding the examination. Students writing a thesis are advanced to candidacy at the time they begin their thesis work.

The M.A. Program Itself:

Religious Studies M.A Program

Graduate Courses

CSULB RST MA Flyer Spring 2024