Department of Religious Studies launches graduate degree program

Case Western Reserve University’s Department of Religious Studies will offer a graduate degree program for the first time in fall 2012. Students will be able to pursue a Master of Arts degree in Religious Studies that follows a two-year curriculum.

“We noticed an increased interest among students across the country in religion and religious studies,” said Peter J. Haas, chair and Abba Hillel Silver Professor of Jewish Studies. “Very few programs offer post-Bachelor of Arts degrees in the methods and theories of religious studies, as opposed to training in specific religious traditions.”

The new Master of Arts degree aims to fill this growing demand.

“The degree will be valuable for students planning careers not only in the academic study of religion, but for related fields like social work, psychology and religious vocations,” Haas said. “This is especially true given the growing significance of religions in the contemporary world.”

In advance of the program launch, the department worked to develop a solid foundation for a graduate education. The department collaborated with the Kelvin Smith Library to build a collection and resources to support the program, added new faculty members, and arranged financial support for students. In addition, the department consolidated its offices into newly renovated space in Tomlinson Hall.

In October, the Ohio Board of Regents Advisory Committee on Graduate Study unanimously endorsed the university’s formal request to create a new program, and Chancellor Jim Petro gave his approval in November.

“Our intention is to build and maintain a program that will rank among the highest both nationally and internationally,” Haas said. “Given the diversity of our faculty in terms of religious specialty and methodological training, and given the rich resources in University Circle and Greater Cleveland, we feel well-positioned to offer an excellent program that will be among the best of its kind in North America.”

Applications for the program are reviewed on an ongoing basis. For more information, visit