Master of Arts Program in Islam
*Please note: the deadline for the M.A. program in Islam has been extended to May 31, 2013. All application materials must be submitted by that date.*
The Master of Arts in Islam seeks to marry twin focal points: the study of classical Islam in its civilizational aspects, and modern political and cultural understandings of Islam, with an emphasis on developing competence in classical Islamic intellectual traditions. This emphasis allows students to develop a nuanced perspective on some of the most pressing issues of today in Muslim-majority nations and communities by highlighting ways in which the religious foundations of Islamic intellectual traditions are brought to bear on present understandings of Islam. Thus, we seek to distinguish between the religion of Islam and its interpretation, over time, by human agents.
The program is cross-disciplinary and offers a diversity of theoretical and practical approaches to the study of Islam. It allows students to work with a variety of faculty members who are knowledgeable about classical Islamic formulations and who have on-the ground experience in Muslim-majority countries and communities.
Centrally located in Washington, D.C., the program offers students the opportunity to interact with U.S. government agencies, think-tanks, non-governmental institutions, and the large Muslim community residing and working in the metro area. It also offers “non-traditional students”--such as working professionals, civil servants, and employees of international agencies seeking to supplement their knowledge base--the opportunity to tailor the program to their particular needs.
The M.A. in Islam aims to provide excellence in instruction through an exploration of the development of the religion of Islam, its interpretation, and how it is “lived” in various contexts. The program reflects our belief that a cross-disciplinary analysis offers the best perspective for understandingIslam in both its classical and modern aspects.
Download our Program Brochure.
Students will focus on one of two tracks:
1. The study of Islam in its classical and contemporary formations:
Students study primarily with Professors Nasr, Faghfoory, and/or Pemberton. Students will also have the opportunity to complete elective coursework in other departments and schools at GW. They will work toward a mastery of the following topics:
- theory and method in the study of religion;
- the classical formations of Islam in historical perspective; and
- Islam and Muslims in local, national, and regional contexts.
2. The comparative study of Hinduism and Islam:
Students study primarily with Professors Hiltebeitel, Nasr, and/or Pemberton. Students will also have the opportunity to study with distinguished faculty at three other local universities (American, Catholic, and Georgetown). They will work toward a mastery of the following topics:
- theory and method in the study of religion;
- the tradition of either Hinduism or Islam; and
- the comparison between Hinduism, Islam, and other religious traditions.
Program Requirements (apply to both tracks)
- A Bachelor of Arts degree related to the subject of the program. (Alternatively, courses may be taken to fulfill these requirements after enrollment in the M.A program. These courses would not count towards the total credit hours required for completion of the program)
- The general requirements as stated by the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences.
- The program consists of 36 credit hours. All students need to complete at least 2 semesters (6 hours) of a primary research language (Arabic, Hindi, Persian, Sanskrit or another relevant language), which will not count toward the 36 hours. Alternatively, students may demonstrate competence in a primary research language by taking a competency exam.
Additionally, each track within the program has particular course requirements.
Click here to see program brochure.
The following four core courses:
1. Rel 5770: Islamic Civilization and the West (Nasr)
2. New Course: Islamic Historiography (Pemberton)
3. New Course: Qur’an and Hadith (Faghfoory)
4. New Course: Islamic Law (Moussavi)
Dr. Muriel Atkin, History
Dr. Nathan Brown, Political Science
Dr. Robert Eisen, Judaism, Peace Studies
Dr. Dina Khoury, History
Dr. Marc Lynch, Political Science
Dr Ahmad Moussavi, Islamic Law and Jurisprudence
Islam and Hinduism Track
Click here to see the program brochure.
The following two core courses:
1. REL 3901: Theory and Method in the Study of Religion (Staff)
2. REL 3915: Islam and Hinduism in South Asia (Pemberton) Participating Faculty
Dr. Alf Hiltebeitel, Hinduism, The George Washington University
Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Islam, The George Washington University
Dr. Kelly Pemberton, Hinduism and Islam, The George Washington University
Dr. Mohammad Faghfoory, Islam, The George Washington University
Dr. Shubha Pathak, Hinduism, American University
Dr. Abdul Aziz Said, Islam, American University
Dr. Sidney Griffith, Islam, Catholic University
Dr. John Esposito, Islam, Georgetown University
Dr. Ariel Glucklich, Hinduism, Georgetown University
For information about GW, courses, our department, and the application package, please visit the graduate student information website, where you will also find online application. You may also request to receive this information by mail. To do so, please submit a request to the Graduate Admissions Department via the same site.
Guidelines and forms for completing the MA
Guidelines for Thesis Prospectus
Thesis Prospectus Form
Application for Graduation
Institute for Women's Policy Research
KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights
Consortium school schedules of classes