MA in Interreligious Studies

About

Curriculum

Specialization Requirements

Learning Outcomes

Admissions

The MA in Interreligious Studies (MAIRS) is a 36-credit-hour graduate degree that engages students in advanced academic study of the lived reality of religions in public multifaith contexts. It may also serve as a foundation for those pursuing other professional degrees or as a vehicle for the enhancement of one’s own faith and understanding. The MAIRS program provides a strong grounding in the foundational concepts and methods of Interreligious studies, relations between religions, and the study of lived religious traditions. Students may choose one of three specializations: 

  1. Interreligious Studies, which provides a flexible course of study based upon the student’s area of interests;
  2. Islamic Studies, which focuses on the foundational texts of Islam as they are lived and interpreted by Muslims; and
  3. Ministerial Studies, which centers on the Christian tradition and provides initial studies in scripture, theology, history, and the arts of ministry for those who are preparing for ministerial professions or who seek to move on to a Master of Divinity at a partner institution through the Cooperative MDiv program.

 

CLICK HERE for information on our new Dean’s Scholarships for Fall 2021.

The MAIRS curriculum is built around the engagement of students from different religious traditions who study the various topics and disciplines of religion, and who develop skills in religious performance. These four courses serve as the basis of the MAIRS curriculum and experience. 

MAIRS Program of Study Matrix 

Gateway course (3 credits)

The gateway course to the degree, and one shared by the MA in Peacebuilding is DI-550: Introduction to Interreligious Studies, an intersectional, integrative course that promotes deep understanding of worldviews different from one’s own. The course integrates theory and practice in exploring how diverse individuals and groups understand “religion” and how those with differing understandings relate to one another. The course cultivates the dynamic link between theory and practice as it engages in critical investigation of relations between people (whether individuals or groups) who orient around “religion” differently. As an introduction to Interreligious Studies, this course explores such themes as the meaning of “religion,” the discourse of “othering” and theologies of religious difference, comparative theology, interreligious hermeneutics, urban social history methodologies, interreligious dialogue, faith-based collaboration, and more. 

Team Taught Seminars (6 credits)

Two required team-taught interreligious seminars one offered each semester, over a two year period These are organized as studies of various topics: scripture, theology, and the history and experience of religious communities in North American society. These courses draw on the expertise and skills of two faculty from different disciplines, and the experience and social location of each student. The themes and scope of the course will change each year 

Students will pick two of the three offered Team-Taught Seminars. The selection might be based on interest, field of study availability, or modality (online or face-to-face): 

  • RS-525: American Religious Realities – Facilitates an understanding of the scope of America’s religious diversity: the nature of its current complexity and factors contributing to its emergence; the mutually influencing interactions between religious communities (their convictions, practices, and structures); and the American contextual trends, such as immigration, political issues, and social drivers like race, ethnicity, or gender. This course is taught with faculty of different traditions or backgrounds, and builds knowledge and skills for study within a multifaith setting. 
  • SC-514: The Sacred Texts as Living Documents – Students will gain an understanding of the socio-historical contexts of sacred texts, being able to explain historical and contemporary approaches to the interpretation of scriptures on a particular topic or theme. This course is taught with faculty of different traditions or backgrounds, and builds knowledge and skills for study within a multifaith setting. (Requirement may also be filled by taking IP-611: Peace, Justice and Violence in the Sacred Texts) 
  • TH-513: The Faiths as Formal Realities – Explores how religious communities move from texts to practices with the use of structured beliefs or traditions, doctrines or approaches; and it will examine how these structures provide guidance or are challenged within specific contexts. This course is taught with faculty of different traditions or backgrounds, and builds knowledge and skills for study within a multifaith setting. 

Specialization (24 credits)

Please refer to the Specialization Requirements tab for a list of courses that fulfill the area requirements listed below. 

Interreligious Studies

Islamic Studies

Ministerial Studies

Students will select 8 elective courses (3 credits each) in consultation with their advisor according to the goals outlined in their Annual Advising Plan and Report. Foundational fields
(12 credits)
Scripture (6 credits)
Arts of Ministry (6 credits)
Beliefs and Practices
(6 credits)
Foundations of the Christian Faith
(6 credits)
Religious Pluralism
(3 credits)
Beliefs and Practices of the Christian Faith
(6 credits)
Elective
(3 credits)

Language Proficiency

It is highly recommended for students in the Ministerial Studies  or in the Islamic Studies specialization to demonstrate basic proficiency in reading scriptural texts, such as Hebrew, New Testament Greek or Qur’anic Arabic, prior to the completion of their final requirement. Demonstrating proficiency may be done several ways: completion of Hartford Seminary courses with a “Pass,” transferred language courses from another accredited educational institution of a “B” or better, certification from an outside language institute, or testing out through a Seminary-proctored exam.  

Final Requirement (3 credits)

Students will select between a final project or thesis. Completion of a thesis is strongly recommended for students considering further graduate study, particularly a Ph.D., at any point in their future. Students in the Ministerial Studies specialization who intend to transfer to one of our partner schools to complete the M.Div. will take an additional elective instead of completing a final requirement. 

Interreligious Studies Specialization

The Interreligious Studies Specialization provides students the opportunity to tailor a program according to their own academic interests. Offering the most flexibility of the three specializations, students are free to select any course fulfilling the area requirements for the Islamic Studies Specialization or Ministerial Studies Specialization. In close consultation with their academic advisor, students will select 8 courses, for a total of 24 credits.  

MAIRS Program of Study Matrix 

Islamic Studies Specialization   

The Islamic Studies Specialization allows the student to explore topics of interest, within three defined areas of study  

Students will be required to fulfill the areas of study as follows: 

Foundational Fields (12 Credits) 

Courses in the Foundational Fields of Islamic Studies introduce students to the Qur’an, Hadith, and Tafsir literature, the major legal schools, theological, philosophical, and pietistic traditions. 

Students may select any four of the following: 

ET-640: Introduction to Islamic Law
HI-536: Life of the Prophet Muhammad
HI-624: Histories of Classical Islam: Peoples, Traditions, Institutions
HI-625: Modern Muslim Histories
SC-526: Foundational Sources of Islam
TH-622: God in Muslim Thought 

Beliefs and Practices (6 credits) 

Courses in Beliefs and Practices of Islam examine the ways in which Muslims of the past and present have understood and practiced their faith and continue to live out their faith tradition in specific contexts.  

Students may select any two of the following: 

AM-654: Muslim Public Speaking: History and Practice
ET-655: Contemporary Islamic Ethics
RS-631: Race, Religion and Politics
SC-556: Women in the Qur’an 

Religious Pluralism (3 credits) 

Courses in Religious Pluralism explore how Muslims have thought about, interacted with, and understood  themselves in relation with other religious traditions.  

Students may select one of the following: 

HI-523: History of Christianity: Defining Moments that Shaped a Faith
HI-532: Contemporary World Christianity
HI-539: Are We Children of Abraham? Exploring the Relationships Between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
HI-619: Muslim-Christian Conflict or Cooperation:  The Politics of Interpreting Our Shared Past
HI-628: Muslims in American Religious History 
RS-634-3: Interfaith and Civic Engagement  
SC-715: Gender, Power and Women
TH-526: Introduction to Black Theology 
TH-611: Theological Approaches to Religious Pluralism
TH-616: Jesus in Christianity and Islam 

Elective Course (3 credits) 

Students will also select one Elective (3 credits) course in any of the areas above or a course in the Arabic language. 

MAIRS Program of Study Matrix
 

The Ministerial Studies Specialization

The Ministerial Studies Specialization is intended to provide students with a foundational study of the arts of ministry. Students may also utilize this pathway to complete a Master of Divinity at one of our partner schools through the Cooperative MDiv. Program. Hartford Seminary has partnership agreements with Boston University School of Theology, Chicago Theological Seminary, Drew University, and Yale Divinity School, to accept up to 36 credits for those students who wish to complete a Master of Divinity at one of these schools. Finally, students may also wish to continue on with the professional Master of Arts in Chaplaincy. To do this they must also apply to the Admissions committee for that degree. 

Ministerial Studies Specialization courses allow the student to explore topics of interest in their preparation for ministry, or transfer to a Master of Divinity program at a partner institution, as outlined above. Cooperative MDiv. Students should review the “Advising Guidelines” of each partner school. They should also consult closely with their advisor each semester. 

Students will be required to fulfill the four areas of study as follows: 

Scripture (6 credits) 

Courses in the Scripture  will introduce students to the scholarly study of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament as sacred Scriptures, and to their relation to the historic contexts out of which they arose. They will be introduced to the original languages and to the primary methods used by different faith communities to interpret them.  

Students may select any two of the following: 

SC-522: Hebrew Bible Survey
SC-531: New Testament Survey
SC-540: The Synoptic Gospels
SC-639-2: The World of the Prophets
SC-715: Gender, Power and Women 

Arts of Ministry (6 credits) 

Courses in the Arts of Ministry  will introduce students into the theological rationale and demonstrate basic knowledge and skills in ministry, such as preaching, counseling, and the various requirements of congregational leadership within an ecumenical and multifaith setting. 

Students may select any two of the following:

AM-604-3: Theologies of Chaplaincy: Bringing God into the Multifaith Encounter on the Edge of Religion AM-625: The Art of Preaching
AM-638: Essential Skills in Pastoral Counseling and Ministry
AM-667-2: Interfaith Leadership in Times of Crisis
AM-674: LGBTQ History & Theory
AM-731-2: Psychology of Trauma
CH-520: Theology and Scripture in Spiritual Care Practice
CH-530: Chaplaincy Models and Methods
CH-730: Resilience for Spiritual Leaders
IP-510: Constructive Conflict Intervention
RS-634-3: Interfaith and Civic Engagement 

Foundations of the Christian Faith (6 credits) 

The Foundations of the Christian faith requirement provides students the opportunity to examine the foundations and development of Christian faith, its major, doctrines, traditions, the important historical moments of the Christian tradition, and the ability to articulate the differences with other religious traditions  

Students may select any two of the following:

HI-523: History of Christianity: Defining Moments that Shaped a Faith
HI-532: Contemporary World Christianity
TH-505: Introduction to Christian Theology
TH-526: Introduction to Black Theology
TH-605: Contextual Theologies 

Beliefs and Practices (6 credits) 

The Beliefs and Practices requirement provides students the opportunity to analyze how Christian communities of the past and present have understood and practiced their faith, and continue to live out their faith tradition in specific contexts.  

Students may select any two of the following: 

DI-501: Introduction to Islam for Non-Muslims
HI-539: Are We Children of Abraham? Exploring the Relationships Between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
HI-617: The Politics of Religious Liberty
HI-628: Muslims in American Religious History
IP-612: Religious Leadership for Peaceful Change
RS-602: Understanding Congregations
RS-612: None’s Religion: Understanding and Addressing the Religiously Unaffiliated Population
RS-631: Race, Religion and Politics
RS-634-3: Interfaith and Civic Engagement
TH-611: Theological Approaches to Religious Pluralism
TH-616: Jesus in Christianity and Islam
 

MAIRS Program of Study Matrix 

 

  1. Gain a strong grounding in the discipline of interreligious studies, being able to demonstrate fluency in the foundational concepts, insights and methods of interreligious studies and the application of those methods within contemporary lived multifaith realities.
  2. Benefit from the formal study of and immersion in interreligious studies within a multifaith classroom context, which requires the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required for respectful and substantive dialogue.
  3. Be introduced to the interdisciplinary study of contemporary religious communities analyzing the impact of local, social and political contexts on beliefs and practices.
  4. Gain an understanding of the role of the sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, being able to explain contemporary and historical approaches to the interpretation of scripture, as well as to recognize various communal and individual approaches to scriptures.
  5. Examine the lived and historic theological or legal traditions within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, being able to explain how communities move from the text to structured beliefs and traditions, approaches, and doctrines within various communities.
  6. Conduct regular, advanced level research in the field of interreligious studies that enables them to articulate their own experiences and understandings, using responsible research methods, proper citation methods, and careful judgement in selecting and interpreting sources.

Application deadlines:

  • July 15 for the Fall Semester (Now extended to August 2 for Fall 2021); to be considered for financial aid, separate Applications for Financial Assistance must be completed and submitted to the Financial Aid Office.
  • December 1 for the Spring Semester.

Application Requirements:

  1. Prior Education: Complete official transcripts from all previous undergraduate and graduate institutions must be submitted to the Admission’s Office. A bachelor’s degree (or its educational equivalent) at a high level of achievement from an accredited institution is a prerequisite for admissions. Admission is granted only on the basis of the terms stated in the Hartford Seminary Catalogue and in the admission letter. In unusual circumstances, a limited number of highly qualified students without the requisite Bachelor’s Degree will be considered for admission. Applicants possessing international education credentials are required to submit transcripts in English or accompanied by a certified English translation. Non-U.S. transcripts must be evaluated by a credential evaluation service such as wes.org or by a member organization of NACES (www.naces.org)
  2.  Statement of Purpose: Each Statement of Purpose is unique and is meant to be an expression of the individuals that write them.  We want to know what is important to you, what has shaped you, and, ultimately, who you are. You have the opportunity to tell us about the aspects of your character and experience that help us understand why you are a good match with this program. We also want to know how you would both gain from and contribute to our unique environment.The Statement of Purpose should be four to five pages (typed, double-spaced) and should reflect on:
    * your goals in seeking theological education and the life experiences or values that have led you to do so;
    * the reasons you have chosen Hartford Seminary, in particular;
    * your educational/ vocational goals;
    * your perceived strengths and potential areas for development.
  3. References: Three letters of recommendation. At least one letter must be from a faculty member of an institution from which the applicant has earned a degree or another person who can speak to the applicant’s potential for graduate level or a person from the applicant’s religious community or work place who can speak to the applicant’s potential for graduate level study.
  4. English Language Proficiency: Students who are not native English speakers or who have not had English as a primary language of instruction in their academic studies, are required to submit scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Duolingo English Test (DET) examination and achieve a minimum score of 80 on the internet version of TOEFL or 550 on the paper based total; 6.5 on the IELTS; or 110 on the DET.

All completed applications are reviewed by the Admissions Committee.

Transfer Credit

Applicants who have previously taken graduate level courses in religion from an accredited institution may be eligible for up to 9 credits of transfer credit. Requests concerning transfer credit should be made at the time of application.

Ready to start your application? Click one of the links below.

Application for Domestic Students

Application for International Students

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