M.A. in International Studies

M.A. – Comparative Religion

The M.A. program in Comparative Religion at the University of Washington is one of several interdisciplinary programs in the Jackson School of International Studies which leads to a Master of Arts in International Studies. Developed out of the study of a wide spectrum of cultural traditions in the area studies programs of the Jackson School, the program’s focus is highly international and trans-cultural in nature.

The faculty of the Comparative Religion Program, which includes appointments in the Jackson School as well as several other units of the University, covers a wide variety of religious traditions and theoretical approaches in the study of religion. The University’s Language and Literature/Civilization programs, particularly in areas represented by the regional programs within the Jackson School, offer unusually deep resources for students and faculty interested in the comparative study of religion.

This Master’s program provides a particularly strong foundation for those students headed toward Ph.D. programs in religion. For those interested in Ph.D. work in religion only at the University of Washington, doctoral-level study is available through the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Near and Middles Eastern Studies, Asian Languages and Literature, and in other related departments such as Anthropology, Ethnomusicology, Political Science, History and Sociology. For details, interested students should contact those units directly.

James Wellman, Chair


A summary of the curriculum is provided below. A detailed description of the entire program curriculum, policies and procedures can be found in the Comparative Religion handbook.

RELIG 501 The Study of Religion (5 credits) Examines scholarly approaches used in the study of religion.

RELIG 502 Religion in Comparative Perspective (5 credits) Comparative study of several religious traditions, organized around a specific theme or topic, e.g., “ritual,” “gender,” etc.

RELIG 598 Colloquium in Comparative Religion (1 credit/quarter) Introduction to faculty research and to major methods and disciplines in the study of religion. Introduction to major methods and disciplines in the study of religion.  Students organize and contribute to the series with participation by UW faculty members and visiting guest speakers.

Historical Relations Between Religious Traditions Elective Selected from courses on the history of regions where two or more religious traditions have come into contact with one another.

Major Concentration You must complete four to five courses in your chosen major concentration. Major concentration options include: Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Religion, or Religion and Culture.

Minor Concentration You must complete two to three courses in your chosen minor concentration. Minor concentration options include all options listed in the major concentration plus: Religion in America, African religions, East Asian religions, Greco-Roman religions.

Capstone Research Project You must complete either a long paper (approximately 50 pages) or two papers (approximately 25 pages each) of near publishable quality under the guidance of your Masters Supervisory Committee.

Comprehensive Oral Exam Your Masters Supervisory Committee will examine your capstone research project and conduct your oral exam during your graduation quarter.



Language proficiency is not required for admission.

Language study is an essential part of the program. Students must demonstrate the equivalent of two years of proficiency in their primary research language either by exam or successful completion of coursework.


M.A. in Comparative Religion Handbook 2023-24

M.A. in Comparative Religion Handbook 2022-23

M.A. in Comparative Religion Handbook 2021-22

M.A. in Comparative Religion Handbook 2020-21


Applications must be submitted by January 31 for admittance to the autumn quarter cohort. We only accept students into the M.A. program during autumn quarter.

You can find information about the application requirements and process on our website.



The Jackson School houses 14 outreach centers. These centers provide opportunities for educators, students, and the community to learn about the world. Some of them have specific scholarship opportunities and other resources that may be useful. Here are those you might find particularly useful: