The MA in Religion offers students exposure to cutting edge theoretical approaches to the study of religion while deepening their knowledge of a specific religious tradition or pursuing in-depth engagement of religion with another related discipline or a professional field such as journalism, law, or public health. This is a flexible program designed to give students training in the basic theories and methods of religious studies as well as exposure to current research interests within the Department, with special attention paid to the place of religion in public life across various religious traditions. The program can be completed in one academic year, though many students choose to study over three or four semesters. While there is no language requirement, students may opt to study a language at any level. Columbia offers a wide range of languages relevant to various religious traditions. These include but are not limited to Sanskrit, Tibetan, Hindi, Classical Chinese, Japanese, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, and Persian, some of which are taught at few other universities. Students who choose to develop their language skills, including those intending eventually to pursue a PhD, may take additional language coursework and usually choose to complete the MA in three to four semesters.
Completion of the MA does not automatically lead to admission to the PhD program.