Contemplative Religions Concentration

This 42-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 (12)

  • REL645 Methods and Issues in the Study of Religion (3)
  • REL779 Interreligious Dialogue (3)
  • Religious Studies or Graduate Collective elective (3)**
  • Contemplative Practice elective (3)

First year, spring (12)

  • REL651 Contemplative Practice Intensive: Religious Studies Students (noncredit)*
  • REL655 Trends in Religious Studies (3)
  • Contemplative Practice elective (3)
  • Religious Studies or Graduate Collective elective (6)**

Second year, fall (12)

  • REL585 Spiritual Models of Social Action (3)
  • Religious Studies or Graduate Collective elective (6)**
  • Contemporary Practice electives (3)

Second year, spring (9)

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

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.

** Students can take up to six of their elective credits in courses from other programs in The Graduate Collective that are designated as open to students outside their programs, with permission of the faculty member.

Religious Studies Electives

General Electives

  • REL525 Contemplative Christianity (3)
  • REL529 Contemplative Judaism (3)
  • REL530 Yoga and Globalization: The Inception of Postural Yoga (3)
  • REL535 Kabbalah and Consciousness (3)
  • REL545 Contemplative Islam: An Introduction to Its History, Thought and Practice (3)
  • REL623 Religious Experience in Africa: Sacred Cosmos, Ritual, and Community (3)
  • REL625 Christian Scripture and Spirituality (3)
  • REL634 Hindu 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 First Turning of the Wheel: Nature of Mind and Emotions (3)
  • REL614 Mind and Its World (3)
  • REL661 Second Turning of the Wheel: The Bodhisattva Path (3)
  • REL705 Mind Only School (1.5) (Nitartha Institute Summer Program)
  • REL710 Third Turning of the Wheel: Yogacara and Buddha Nature (3)
  • REL720 The Mahayana Path to Enlightenment (1.5) (Nitartha Institute Summer Program)
  • REL751 Buddhism in Tibet (3)
  • REL760 Vajrayana: Symbol, Iconography, and Ritual (3)

Contemplative Practice Electives

  • REL504W 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–694W Shambhala Training Levels I–V (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
  • 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.

** The prerequisites for REL609W are Meditation Practicum I and II, as well as a Buddhist month-long meditation intensive, two weeks of which must be completed before the class begins.

*** Students choosing the Nitartha Institute Shedra Option should complete the requirement of attending a month long Nitartha Institute program in the summer following their first year. This is integral to the sequence of the curriculum. This replaces three credits of electives in the final semester.

Related Programs

  • Contemplative Religions with Language

    This MA degree includes all the course work of the MA Religious Studies degree with the Contemplative Religions concentration, and is enriched by training in either Sanskrit or Tibetan through two years (16 credits) of course work or more.