Religious studies provides students an understanding of the traditions of religions across the globe. Areas of study offered by the department include Asian religious traditions, Near (Middle) East religious traditions (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity), and comparative aspects of religion. Students develop skills in reading and interpreting sacred texts. They explore the cultural and social dimensions of religion along with a consideration of religious values and ethics from comparative and cross-cultural perspectives, and with relation to global issues. Students go on to work in the government, service, or nonprofit sectors, as well as pursue graduate work in the humanities.

Policies

Students in this major complete at least 33 credits within the major, earning a minimum grade of 2.00 in each course. No course applied to the major in religious studies may be used to fulfill more than one requirement.

For policies governing all undergraduate degrees, see AP.5 Undergraduate Policies.

Banner Code: LA-BA-RELI

Degree Requirements

Total credits: minimum 120

Students should be aware of the specific policies associated with this program, located on the Admissions & Policies tab.

Core Courses in the Major

Introductory Courses in the Main World Religions

RELI 211Religions of the West (Mason Core)3
RELI 212Religions of Asia (Mason Core)3
Total Credits6

Comparative or Methodological Aspects of the Study of Religion

Select two courses from the following:6
Myth, Magic, and Mind (Mason Core)
Philosophy of Religion
Mysticism: East and West
Global Perspectives on Spirituality and Healing (Mason Core)
Comparative Study of Religions (Mason Core)
Sociology of Religion
Special Topics in Religious Thought 1
Total Credits6
1

Only when topic is relevant and with the prior written approval of the undergraduate director.

Religious Studies

Select four courses (12 credits) from any religious studies courses (RELI) at the 300 and 400 level other than those used to fulfill the requirements above. 112
Total Credits12
1

Choose courses in a scriptural language (such as Arabic, Biblical Hebrew, Chinese, Classical Greek, Latin, or Sanskrit). Up to 6 credits of a scriptural language may be used to fulfill this requirement and the 6 credits of electives.

One Seminar

Students should take this course during their senior year.

RELI 420Seminar3
Total Credits3

Electives in the Major

Select two electives in consultation with an advisor. 16
Total Credits6
1

Choose from courses in religious studies, related disciplines (including anthropology, art history, and history), or a scriptural language (such as Arabic, Biblical Hebrew, Chinese, Classical Greek, Latin, or Sanskrit). Up to 6 credits of a scriptural language may be used to fulfill this requirement and the requirement of 12 credits in religious studies at 300 and 400 level.

Writing-Intensive Requirement

The university requires all students to complete at least one course designated "writing intensive" in their majors. Students majoring in religious studies fulfill this requirement by successfully completing RELI 420 Seminar.

Upper Level Requirement

Students seeking a bachelor’s degree must apply at least 45 credits of upper-level courses (numbered 300 or above) toward graduation requirements.

College Level Requirements for the BA Degree

In addition to the Mason Core program, students pursuing a BA degree must complete the coursework below. Except where expressly prohibited, a course used to fulfill a college level requirement may also be used simultaneously to satisfy other requirements (Mason Core requirements or requirements for the major).

Philosophy or Religious Studies
Select 3 credits from the following:3
1

Note that the following courses may not be used to fulfill this requirement:

  • PHIL 323 Classical Western Political Theory 
  • PHIL 324 Modern Western Political Theory 
  • PHIL 327 Contemporary Western Political Theory 
  • PHIL 393 Humanities College to Career 
  • PHIL 460 Senior Seminar in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics


Additionally, PHIL 253 Philosophy and Literature (Mason Core) and RELI 235 Religion and Literature (Mason Core) cannot be used to fulfill both the philosophy/religious studies requirement and the Mason Core literature requirement.

Social and Behavioral Sciences
Select 3 credits of social and behavioral sciences from the following (additional to the Mason Core social and behavioral sciences requirement) 13
ANTH
CRIM
ECON
GOVT
HIST 2
LING
PSYC
SOCI
Or choose from the following GGS courses:
Major World Regions (Mason Core)
Human Geography (Mason Core)
Introduction to Geoinformation Technologies
Political Geography
Geography of Resource Conservation (Mason Core)
Population Geography (Mason Core)
Economic Geography
Urban Geography
Geography of the United States
Geography of Latin America
Geography of Europe
Geography of North Africa and the Middle East
Geography of the Soviet Succession States
Structures in Urban Governance and Planning
Geography of Virginia
1

The two courses used to fulfill the combined college and Mason Core requirements must be from different disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences. 

2

HIST 100 History of Western Civilization (Mason Core) and HIST 125 Introduction to World History (Mason Core) may not be used to fulfill this requirement.

Foreign Language
Intermediate-level proficiency in one foreign language, fulfilled by: 1
Or achieving a satisfactory score on an approved proficiency test
Or completing the following ASL three course sequence:
American Sign Language (ASL) I
American Sign Language (ASL) II
American Sign Language (ASL) III
1

Students who are already proficient in a second language may be eligible for a waiver of this requirement. Additional information on waivers can be found at the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

Non-Western Culture

Select 3 credits of an approved course in the study of a non-Western culture (additional to the Mason Core requirement in global understanding)

Select 3 credits (additional to Mason Core Global Understanding requirement) 1
ANTH 114Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (Mason Core)3
ANTH 300Civilizations3
ANTH 301Native North Americans3
ANTH 302Peoples and Cultures of Latin America (Mason Core)3
ANTH 303Peoples and Cultures of the Andes3
ANTH 306Peoples and Cultures of Island Asia (Mason Core)3
ANTH 307Ancient Mesoamerica (Mason Core)3
ANTH 308Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East (Mason Core)3
ANTH 309Peoples and Cultures of India (Mason Core)3
ANTH 313Myth, Magic, and Mind (Mason Core)3
ANTH 314Zombies3
ANTH 316Peoples and Cultures of the Caribbean (Mason Core)3
ANTH 323Digging and Dealing in the Dead: Ethics in Archaeology3
ANTH 330Peoples and Cultures of Selected Regions: Non-Western3
ANTH 332Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Globalization (Mason Core)3
ANTH 381Medical Anthropology3
ANTH 383Cities of the Global South3
ANTH 396Issues in Anthropology: Social Sciences (Mason Core)3
ARAB 360Topics in Arabic Cultural Production3
ARAB 420Survey of Arabic Literature3
ARAB 440Topics in Arabic Religious Thought and Texts (Mason Core)3
ARTH 203Survey of Asian Art (Mason Core)3
ARTH 204Survey of Latin American Art (Mason Core)3
ARTH 206Survey of African Art (Mason Core)3
ARTH 318Art and Archaeology of Ancient Egypt3
ARTH 319Art and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (Mason Core)3
ARTH 320Art of the Islamic World (Mason Core)3
ARTH 382Arts of India (Mason Core)3
ARTH 383Arts of Southeast Asia (Mason Core)3
ARTH 384Arts of China (Mason Core)3
ARTH 385Arts of Japan (Mason Core)3
ARTH 386The Silk Road (Mason Core)3
ARTH 482RS: Advanced Studies in Asian Art3
CHIN 318Introduction to Classical Chinese (Mason Core)3
CHIN 320Contemporary Chinese Film3
CHIN 325Major Chinese Writers (Mason Core)3
DANC 118World Dance (Mason Core)3
ECON 361Economic Development of Latin America (Mason Core)3
ECON 362African Economic Development (Mason Core)3
FREN 451Topics in Sub-Saharan Francophone Literature and Culture3
FREN 454Topics in Caribbean Francophone Literature and Culture3
GGS 101Major World Regions (Mason Core)3
GGS 316Geography of Latin America3
GGS 325Geography of North Africa and the Middle East3
GGS 330Geography of the Soviet Succession States3
GGS 399Select Topics in GGS3
GOVT 328Non-Western Political Theory3
GOVT 332Government and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa3
GOVT 333Government and Politics of Asia3
GOVT 340Central Asian Politics3
GOVT 341Chinese Foreign Policy3
GOVT 345Islam and Politics3
GOVT 432Political Change and Social Development in Sub-Saharan Africa3
GOVT 433Political Economy of East Asia3
HIST 251Survey of East Asian History (Mason Core)3
HIST 252Survey of East Asian History (Mason Core)3
HIST 261Survey of African History (Mason Core)3
HIST 262Survey of African History (Mason Core)3
HIST 271Survey of Latin American History (Mason Core)3
HIST 272Survey of Latin American History (Mason Core)3
HIST 281Survey of Middle Eastern Civilization (Mason Core)3
HIST 282Survey of Middle Eastern Civilization (Mason Core)3
HIST 326Stalinism3
HIST 327The Soviet Union and Russia Since World War II3
HIST 328Rise of Russia (Mason Core)3
HIST 329Modern Russia and the Soviet Union (Mason Core)3
HIST 353History of Traditional China3
HIST 354Modern China3
HIST 356Modern Japan (Mason Core)3
HIST 357Postwar Japan (Mason Core)3
HIST 358Post-1949 China (Mason Core)3
HIST 360History of South Africa (Mason Core)3
HIST 364Revolution and Radical Politics in Latin America (Mason Core)3
HIST 365Conquest and Colonization in Latin America (Mason Core)3
HIST 366Comparative Slavery3
HIST 367History, Fiction, and Film in Latin America3
HIST 387Topics in Global History (Mason Core)3-6
HIST 426The Russian Revolution3
HIST 460Modern Iran (Mason Core)3
HIST 461Arab-Israeli Conflict3
HIST 462Women in Islamic Society (Mason Core)3
HIST 465The Middle East in the 20th Century3
JAPA 310Japanese Culture in a Global World (Mason Core)3
JAPA 340Topics in Japanese Literature (Mason Core)3
KORE 320Korean Popular Culture in a Global World3
MUSI 103Musics of the World (Mason Core)3
RELI 211Religions of the West (Mason Core)3
RELI 212Religions of Asia (Mason Core)3
RELI 240Death and the Afterlife in World Religions3
RELI 272Islam3
RELI 313Hinduism (Mason Core)3
RELI 314Chinese Philosophies and Religious Traditions3
RELI 315Buddhism (Mason Core)3
RELI 337Mysticism: East and West3
RELI 365Muhammad: Life and Legacy3
RELI 374Islamic Thought (Mason Core)3
RELI 375Qur'an and Hadith3
RELI 379Islamic Law, Society, and Ethics3
RELI 387Islam, Democracy, and Human Rights3
RELI 490Comparative Study of Religions (Mason Core)3
RUSS 353Russian Civilization (Mason Core)3
RUSS 354Contemporary Post-Soviet Life (Mason Core)3
1

A course used to fulfill the Mason Core global understanding requirement may not be simultaneously used to satisfy this college-level requirement. A course used to fulfill this requirement may be used simultaneously to fulfill any other requirements (Mason Core requirements, college-level requirements, or requirements for the major). Additional information on waivers can be found at the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

Mason Core

Note: Some Mason Core requirements may already be fulfilled by the major requirements listed above. Students are strongly encouraged to consult their advisors to ensure they fulfill all remaining Mason Core requirements.

Foundation Requirements
Written Communication6
Oral Communication3
Quantitative Reasoning3
Information Technology3-7
Core Requirements
Arts3
Global Understanding3
Literature3
Natural Science7
Social and Behavioral Sciences3
Western Civilization/World History3
Synthesis/Capstone Requirement 1
Synthesis/Capstone3
Total Credits40
1

minimum 3 credits

Additional Elective Courses

Any remaining credits may be completed with electives to bring the degree total to 120.

The accelerated master's programs in the list below specify the BA in religious studies as a feeder degree for their programs. It is important to note, however, that many accelerated master's programs are available for any bachelor's degree at Mason, including this one. See the full list of master's degrees with accelerated programs at George Mason.

Bachelor's Degree (selected)/Middle East and Islamic Studies, Accelerated MA

Overview

Highly-qualified undergraduates pursuing a BA in select majors (listed below) may apply to the accelerated master's degree in Middle East and Islamic studies. If accepted, and depending on their undergraduate major, students will be able to earn a bachelor's degree in their chosen major and a master's degree in Middle East and Islamic studies after satisfactory completion of 144 credits, sometimes within five years. See AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees.

Students in an accelerated degree program must fulfill all university requirements for the master's degree. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Selected Majors

It is preferred, though not required, that the student have a minor in Middle East studies or Islamic studies.

Application Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in Graduate Admissions. For information specific to the accelerated MA in Middle East and Islamic studies, see Application Requirements and Deadlines.

Accelerated Option Requirements

While undergraduate students, accelerated master's students complete two graduate courses as indicated on their Accelerated Master's Program Application with a minimum grade of 3.00 in each course. Once admitted to the accelerated master's pathway, students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25 in all course work. Upon completion and conferral of the undergraduate degree in the semester indicated in the application, they submit the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition Form and are admitted to graduate status.

Select two courses from the following:6
Critical Issues and Debates in Middle East and Islamic Studies
Approaches to Middle East and Islamic History
Politics and Societies of the Middle East
Islamic Texts and Contexts
Total Credits6

As graduate students, accelerated master's students have an advanced standing. They must meet all master's degree requirements except for the two courses (6 credits) they completed as undergraduates. Students must begin their master's program the semester immediately following conferral of the undergraduate degree.

Reserve Graduate Credit

Students may take up to 6 additional graduate credits as reserve graduate credit. These credits do not apply to the undergraduate degree. To apply these credits to the master's degree, students should use the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition Form.

Select up to 6 additional graduate credits from the following:6
Critical Issues and Debates in Middle East and Islamic Studies
Approaches to Middle East and Islamic History
Advanced Seminar in Comparative Politics (when content focus is the Middle East)
Islam and Politics
Islamic Texts and Contexts
Total Credits6

The ability to take courses, including ones not listed above, for reserve graduate credit is available to all high achieving undergraduates with the permission of the department. Permission is normally granted only to qualified Mason seniors within 15 hours of graduation. Permission is normally granted only to qualified Mason seniors within 15 hours of graduation. See AP.1.4.4 Graduate Course Enrollment by Undergraduates.

Bachelor's Degree (selected)/Interdisciplinary Studies, Accelerated MAIS (Religion, Culture, and Values Concentration)

Overview

Highly-qualified undergraduates in selected majors (see below) may apply to the accelerated master's degree in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in religion, culture, and values. If accepted, and depending on their undergraduate major, students will be able to earn a bachelor's degree in their chosen major and a master's in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in religion, culture, and values after satisfactory completion of 150 credits, sometimes within five years. See AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees.

Students in an accelerated degree program must fulfill all university requirements for the master's degree. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Selected Majors

If the student has not majored in religious studies, it is preferred, though not required, that the student have a minor in religious studies.

Application Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in the Admissions. For information specific to the accelerated MAIS, see Application Requirements and Deadlines.

Accelerated Option Requirements

While undergraduate students, accelerated master's students complete two graduate courses as indicated on their Accelerated Master's Program Application with a minimum grade of 3.00 in each course. Once admitted to the accelerated master's pathway, students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25 in all coursework. Upon completion and conferral of the undergraduate degree in the semester indicated in the application, they submit the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition Form and are admitted to graduate status.

Select two from the following:6
Approaches to the Study of Religion
Sacred as Secular in Modern Spirituality
World Religions in Conflict and Dialogue
Ethical Perspectives of World Religions
World Religions in Transition and Transformation
Religion and the Natural Environment
Sacred Language, Scripture, and Culture
Total Credits6

As graduate students, accelerated master's students have an advanced standing. They must meet all master's degree requirements except for the two courses (6 credits) they completed as undergraduates. Students must begin their master's program the semester immediately following conferral of the undergraduate degree.

Reserve Graduate Credit

Students may take up to 6 additional graduate credits as reserve graduate credit. These credits do not apply to the undergraduate degree. To apply these credits to the master's degree, students should use the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition Form.

Select 6 credits from the following:6
Approaches to the Study of Religion
Sacred as Secular in Modern Spirituality
World Religions in Conflict and Dialogue
Ethical Perspectives of World Religions
World Religions in Transition and Transformation
Religion and the Natural Environment
Sacred Language, Scripture, and Culture
Total Credits6

The ability to take courses, including ones not listed above, for reserve graduate credit is available to all high achieving undergraduates with the permission of the department. Permission is normally granted only to qualified Mason seniors within 15 hours of graduation. See AP.1.4.4 Graduate Course Enrollment by Undergraduates.