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Islamic studies in M.A. Programs in Religious Studies

The following list is a brief summary of options for pursuing Islamic studies in M.A. programs in Religious Studies in North American universities. Frequently this option is attractive for students who need to develop expertise in languages important for the study of Islam, or for students trained an area studies who need to develop their exposure to religious studies as a discipline. For convenience, additional listings are provided for M.A. programs in divinity schools and in area studies programs based in departments of Near Eastern or Middle Eastern area studies, or stand-alone Islamic studies programs. For full details, it is necessary to go to each department to determine the nature of the program, the interests of relevant faculty, and the extent to which these programs can call upon the resources of related area studies programs. The program descriptions here are taken from publicly available sources; please communicate any corrections or suggestions.

Related Links: 
Islamic studies in Ph.D. Programs in Religious Studies
Directory of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs in Middle East Studies, from the Middle East Studies Association
Current Academic Job Openings in Islamic Studies, from the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations
Guide to the Graduate Study of Religion and Theology, American Academy of Religion

Claremont Graduate University, School of Religion

MA program in Islamic Studies
. The MA in Islamic Studies is designed to give students a foundation in Islamic Studies through the study of Arabic and courses on the Qur’an, Islamic Philosophy, Theology and Mysticism, Islamic Law, History of Islam and modern developments in the Muslim world.  Students will also be trained to address the relation of Islam to other religions through comparative courses in Christianity and Judaism.
The degree will provide excellent preparation for a PhD in Islamic Studies, for PhDs in other areas of the study of religion (philosophy, theology, history of religions) and for PhD Studies outside of religion (politics, economics, history, communications) and for work and service in Muslim communities.
Faculty relevant to Islamic studies: Hamid Mavani, Zayn Kassam, and Arash Khazeni.

Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

The M.A. in Islamic Studies focuses on cultural, political, and religious history of Islam and the nations and populations linked to this practice of faith. Students pursue their interest in the field through the course offerings of several departments at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences as well as, to a lesser extent, other schools at Columbia. Courses give students the foundation to specialize in one period or interdisciplinary area as they design an individual program of study in consultation with the program coordinator. The program concludes with a thesis on a limited topic within the student’s area of concentration.


University of Georgia, Department of Religion

Master of Arts degree (MA) in Religion with concentration in Islamic Studies. Areas include Quran & Islamic Literature, History and Thought.
Faculty relevant to Islamic studies: Alan Godlas, Kenneth Honerkamp

Miami University (Ohio), Department of Comparative Religion

Master of Arts degree (MA) in Comparative Religion with concentration in Islamic studies. Areas include the History of Muslim Thought, Quran and Quran Interpretation, Sufism, Contemporary Muslim Literature.  Faculty relevant to Islamic studies: Rick Colby, Matthew Gordon

Washington University in St. Louis, The Jewish, Islamic and Near Eastern Studies Program

Master of Arts in Islamic and Near Eastern Studies. This M.A. program offers an opportunity for interdisciplinary study of the languages, history, and cultures of the Near East. It is designed for students with little or no previous undergraduate training in Near Eastern societies and languages. It is intended for those holding or seeking careers in secondary education, law, business, government, and private agencies whose work touches upon some aspect of the Near East or for individuals planning to pursue a subsequent doctoral program in some aspect of Islamic and Near Eastern Studies. In the latter case, the program assists students in selecting the disciplinary orientation needed for more advance study.
Faculty relevant to Islamic studies: Asad Ahmed, John Bowen, Ahmet T. Karamustafa, Fatemeh Keshavarz

Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, Aga Khan University (London)

MA in Muslim Cultures. The MA in Muslim Cultures provides a distinctive way of understanding the cultures of Muslims as they have evolved over time.  The course will use the theories and methods of the humanities and social sciences as a framework for study.
Faculty relevant to Islamic studies: Abdou Filali-Ansary, Moncef Ben Abdeljelil, Sarah Bowen Savant, Arif Jamal, Farid Panjwani, Modjtaba Sadria, Stefan Weber

Islamic studies and academic degrees in Divinity Schools


There are several divinity schools where one may obtain a non-ministerial Master of Theological Studies (M.T.S.) or Master of Arts (A.M.) degree. This is generally an academic program that permits a wide degree of flexibility in pursuing different topics in the study of religion. Islamic studies may be pursued in connection with the programs listed below.

Graduate Theological Union M.A. program in Islamic studies

Harvard Divinity School M.T.S. program

University of Chicago Divinity School Master of Arts in Divinity (A.M.) Program

Other Area Studies and Islamic studies MA degrees

Georgetown University Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding
Master of Arts in Liberal Studies: Islam and Muslim-Christian Relations

New York University
MA in Middle East and Islamic studies

Princeton University
MA in Near Eastern studies

UC Berkeley
MA program in Near Eastern Studies

MA program in Islamic Studies

University of Michigan
MA program in Modern Middle Eastern and North African Studies

University of Texas
MA in Middle Eastern studies 

University of Virginia
MA program in Religious Studies