Religious Studies: Contemplative Religions MA

This 45-credit concentration is designed for students who wish to join the academic study of comparative religions with interreligious dialog, contemplative practice, and personal investigation. Students develop literacy in the living practice traditions of a variety of world religions, with special emphasis on integrating the mystical contemplative dimension with the texts, teachings, and other aspects of the traditions. Students also learn interreligious dialog skills for communicating across religious differences in an environment of global pluralism. Students work with faculty members who are both academically and spiritually trained in the teachings and practices of their respective traditions.

Culminating Requirements

The degree program concludes with an oral comprehensive exam as well as a master’s project paper.

Degree Requirements

First year, fall

  • REL645 Methods and Issues in the Study of Religion (3)
  • REL779 Interreligious Dialogue: Theory and Practice (3)
  • Religious Studies elective (3)
  • Contemplative Practice elective (3)

First year, spring

  • REL651 Contemplative Practice Intensive: Religious Studies Students (noncredit)*
  • Contemplative Practice elective (3)
  • Three Religious Studies electives (9)

Second year, fall

  • REL585 Spiritual Models of Social Action (3)
  • REL655 Trends in Religious Studies (3)
  • Two Religious Studies electives (6)

Second year, spring

  • REL672 Non-Dualism in Theory and Practice (3)
  • REL880 Comprehensive Exam (noncredit)
  • REL885 MA/MDiv Final Project (noncredit)
  • Contemplative Practice elective (3)
  • Religious Studies elective (3)

Total Credits 45

* It is recommended that students complete the noncredit monthlong Contemplative Practice Intensive requirement (REL651) no later than the winter break between the fall and spring semesters of their second year. This requirement can be done in two two-week sections.

Religious Studies Electives

General Electives

  • REL525 Contemplative Christianity (3)
  • REL529 Contemplative Judaism (3)
  • REL530 Contemplative Hinduism (3)
  • REL535 Kabbalah and Consciousness (3)
  • REL545 Contemplative Islam (3)
  • REL623 Religious Experience in Africa: Sacred Cosmos, Ritual, and Community (3)
  • REL625 Christian Scripture and Spirituality (3)
  • REL634 Hindu Yoga-Tantra (3)
  • REL676 Inner Oral Tradition of the Torah (3)
  • REL749 Contemporary American Religion (3)

Buddhism Electives

  • REL540 Zen Buddhism (3)
  • REL546 Flight of the Swans: Dharma Comes West (3)
  • REL611 The First Turning of the Wheel: Nature of Mind and Emotions (3)
  • REL614 Mind and Its World I (3)
  • REL624 Mind and Its World II (3)
  • REL661 The Second Turning of the Wheel: The Bodhisattva Path (3)
  • REL701 The Middle Way School (3)
  • REL710 The Third Turning of the Wheel: Yogacara and Buddha Nature (3)
  • REL751 Buddhism in Tibet (3)
  • REL760 Vajrayana: Symbol, Iconography, and Ritual (3)

Contemplative Practice Electives

  • REL504W The Breeze of Simplicity: Meditation Weekend (1)
  • REL540 Zen Buddhism (3)
  • REL554W Opening the Heart: Meditation Weekend (1)
  • REL571 Christian Prayer and Mystical Practices (3)
  • REL600 Meditation Practicum I: Seeds of Peace (3)*
  • REL609W Mindfulness Instructor Training I (1)**
  • REL620 Meditation Practicum II: Self and No-Self (3)*
  • REL635 Meditation Practicum III: Mind-Training (3)*
  • REL690W–791W Shambhala Training Levels I–XII (1)
    • REL690W Shambhala Training Level I: The Art of Being Human
    • REL691W Shambhala Training Level II: Birth of the Warrior
    • REL692W Shambhala Training Level III: Warrior in the World
    • REL693W Shambhala Training Level IV: Awakened Heart
    • REL694W Shambhala Training Level V: Open Sky
    • REL695W Shambhala Training Level VI: Great Eastern Sun
    • REL790W Shambhala Training Level VII: Windhorse
    • REL791W Shambhala Training Level VIII: Drala
    • REL792W Shambhala Training Level IX: Meek/Perky
    • REL793W Shambhala Training Level X: Perky
    • REL794W Shambhala Training Level XI: Outrageous & Inscrutable
    • REL795W Shambhala Training Level XII: Golden Key
  • REL709W Mindfulness Instructor Training II (1)**
  • REL780     Meditation Practicum IV: Maitri and Mandala (3)*
  • REL809W Mindfulness Instructor Training III (1)**

* These courses must be taken in sequence.

** These courses must be taken in sequence. The prerequisites for REL609W are Meditation Practicum I and II, as well as a monthlong Buddhist meditation intensive, two weeks of which must be completed before the class begins.