Introduction to the Study of Religion

All students in master’s programs at the Divinity School are required to take this course.

The academic study of religion(s) is complex not simply by virtue of its diverse subject matter, but because of the many different perspectives from which scholars investigate and define the subject. Scholars of religion throughout the academy engage in research that emphasizes historical, comparative, literary critical, philosophical, social scientific, or ethical methods and questions. The Divinity School faculty believes that the capacity to engage in this interdisciplinary conversation will enrich the student’s scholarly agenda. For that reason, the MA program requires enrollment during the first year of the program in the “Introduction to the Study of Religion” course. Focusing on a selected text and theme, problem, or issue, faculty from a variety of disciplines engage the text in dialogue with the lead instructor and students. This course accomplishes three purposes. First, it illustrates the types of questions that are pursued within the eleven areas of study. Second, it situates these methods and questions in the broad history of scholarly inquiry into the nature of religion. Third, it assists the MA who aspires to advanced study to help define the distinctive character of his or her PhD project, and the group of written examinations that would best enable the student to pursue that project.

Because students in all master's programs at the Divinity School are required to take this course, the conversation is enriched by the diverse perspectives of scholars who plan careers across a variety of fields, from the academy to religious organizations and beyond. Requirements for each course will be determined by the instructor.  This course may not be taken pass/fail. Successful completion requires receipt of a letter grade of B- or higher.  Requirements for each course will be determined by the instructor. This course may not be taken pass/fail. Successful completion requires receipt of a letter grade of B- or higher.