Be part of a community where learning goes beyond the classroom

Refine your skills in writing and teaching, prioritize impactful research, and be part of a close-knit community. Explore your unique areas of interest and learn from faculty in religious studies and beyond.

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MA in Religious Studies

Our MA in Religious Studies is designed for students who wish to advance their understanding of a particular area of religious studies or explore multiple traditions and topics.

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PhD in Religious Studies

Our PhD in Religious Studies trains students to become advanced practitioners of the study of religion, including researchers, scholars, teachers, and more.

Graduate study in the Department of Religious Studies analyzes how diverse religious traditions originate, develop, and interact over time. Students learn to identify and use multiple methods for the study of religion, including historical, philosophical, ethical, literary, linguistic, psychological, ethnographic, and digital approaches.

Students can draw on the expertise of the entire religious studies faculty and are also encouraged to work with faculty members in other UI departments who specialize in their areas of interest. Many religious studies graduate students work, for example, with faculty in Anthropology, English, History, and Asian and Slavic Languages and Literatures, as well as Classics and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies.

Graduate study in the department is flexible. It can accommodate individual students’ interests within the limits of existing faculty expertise. Sample plans of study for MA and PhD coursework are available.

Areas of concentration

Programs of graduate study are often developed in relation to one of the following traditional areas of concentration.

Areas of concentration

  • Religion, law, and politics in the Islamic world
  • The history of interpretation of the texts and traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
  • Greco-Roman and Egyptian religion and culture
  • Digital humanities

  • Religious traditions of China and the political, social, and economic factors that have shaped them
  • Modern religion and culture in Korea, most notably Christianity
  • Religion and gender in transnational perspective
  • Religion and empire

  • History and ethnography of religion in the US
  • African American religious traditions (Christianity, Islam, and African diaspora religions)
  • West African religions
  • Religion, media, and the negotiation of technological change
  • Latina/o/x Christianity

  • Religion and morality
  • Religion, emotion, and affect
  • Human rights
  • Religions’ relationships to gender, race, ethnicity, and social justice
  • Ethics of medicine and biotechnology
  • Religion and health

Program themes

Programs can also be developed by theme. Common themes include:

  • Religious diversity in public life
  • Religion and gender
  • Religion and race
  • Religion and media
  • Religion, health, and healing

Graduate student spotlight

This is a picture of John Sheridan

Grad student spotlight: John Sheridan

Tuesday, July 18, 2023
Learn more about the grad student spotlight on John Sherida.
Portrait of Kaitlyn Lindgren-Hansen

Grad student spotlight: Kaitlyn Lindgren-Hansen

Tuesday, July 18, 2023
Learn more about the grad student spotlight on Kaitlyn Lindgren-Hansen.
Picture of Emma Rifai at a marathon

Grad student spotlight: Emma Rifai

Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Learn more about University of Iowa Department of Religious Studies PhD Candidate Emma Rifai's life as a graduate student.


For specific inquiries about graduate study, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies:

Portrait of Jenna Supp-Montgomerie

Jenna Supp-Montgomerie

Associate Professor

Application fee waivers are available for students facing financial hardship. Domestic students can apply for an application fee waiver online. International students should write to Supp-Montgomerie. Include in your email a brief letter of introduction, brief proposal of planned research, and CV.