Religion and Society — M.A.

Program director
David R. Larson

Drawing upon the entire faculty of the School of Religion, plus professors in other LLU schools and nearby universities on a case-by-case basis, this degree integrates with different specialties the serious study of religion—one of the most powerful forces for both good and evil today. Taking courses and seminars in religion, as well as other disciplines, each student develops, with the assistance of a mentor, an individualized program that meets his or her own distinctive interests and goals.  This program is not designed to prepare persons to become ordained Christian ministers; rather, it hopes to enrich knowledge about religion and enhance skills in dealing with such.

Mentors

As soon as possible, but in every case before the student has completed half of the program, the program’s administrative committee will link the student to a mentor who will provide support and guidance.  Until then, the program director will mentor the student. 

Learning outcomes

Upon the successful completion of this program, each student will be able to:

  1. Analyze the prominent features of the most influential religions in the world today.
  2. Assess how effective Christianity was in its interactions with society in one of its major historical periods.
  3. Describe the ways human beings have organized their societies over the centuries.
  4. Evaluate the effectiveness of one past or present major human society in meeting human needs and protecting its environment.
  5. Appraise the variety of ways religions and societies typically interact.            
  6. Critique interpretations of how religion and society interacted in one major episode that made a lasting difference.

Periodic review

In addition, each student’s achievements will be assessed every twelve units to determine the advisability of his or her continuing in the program. 

Prerequisites

There are no prerequisites for this program; however, those who enter having taken few or no courses in religion will have to structure their program considering the requirements. The opposite will be true for those who enter the program after having extensively studied religion but not the other subject(s) they desire to explore.

Core courses

Four of this program’s twelve courses are required: RELT 501, 502, 503; and RELG 696. The religion in science cluster—RELT 501 Religion and Society, RELT 502 Religion and Society, and RELT 503 Religion and Society—which may be taken in any sequence, provides intensive introductions to the field as a whole.  One course is offered each quarter during the academic school year, and a course may be offered in the summer as well.  The fourth required course is the Final Project (RELG 696 Project). These four 4-unit courses, totaling 16 units, constitute one-third of the program.  The remaining eight courses, totaling 32 units and two-thirds of the program, are selected by the student and approved by the administrative committee. 

Transfer credits

Students are permitted to transfer up to 8 units of approved graduate-level courses from other accredited institutions into the Religion and Society Program.

In addition to Loma Linda University and School of Religion admissions requirements, the applicants to the M.A. in Religion and Society Program are expected to present/complete:

  1. A bachelors degree from an accredited institution.
  2. An overall undergraduate Grade Point Average (G.P.A.) of at least 3.25.
  3. Acceptable scores in an approved standardized test such as the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), Medical School Admissions Test (MCAT) or Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).
  4. A brief essay (1,000 words) that specifies how this degree would benefit the applicant personally and professionally.
  5. An interview.
  6. Two Letters of Recommendation from previous teachers. 

In addition to these considerations, acceptance into this program depends upon whether, at the time the student wishes to study, the School of Religion’s resources and his or her interests and goals overlap enough to make it a mutually beneficial experience

Provisional Admission

A student who seems promising even though he or she does not meet one or more of the admission requirements might be given a Provisional Acceptance for up to 12 units after which the administrative committee will determine whether or not he or she will be permitted to continue. 

In order to receive the Master of Arts in Religion and Society, the student will complete a minimum of 48 units of course work as herein specified, with an overall grade point average of B+ or better, and no course lower than a B in a core course.

Required
RELT 501Religion and Society3
RELT 502Religion and Society3
RELT 503Religion and Society3
RELG 696Project4
Individual area of emphasis
Minimum of 32 units that focus on a single topic, case, theme, era, or text:
Selected from the School of Religion19
Selected from the School of Religion or another school on campus16
Total Units48

Areas of Emphasis

These are approved clusters of courses that focus on a single topic, case, theme, era, problem, debate or text.  At least 19 of these units must be taken from the School of Religion.  The other 16 units may be taken either at the School of Religion or elsewhere on campus.

Illustrative areas of emphasis

These are representative of the kinds of individualized programs that students and their mentors may formulate. 

  • Public Policy
  • Health
  • Ecology
  • Behavioral Sciences
  • Natural Sciences
  • Nursing
  • Scripture
  • Theology

Inquires about other possibilities are encouraged.

Individualized program proposal

Before completing half of the program (24 units), with the mentor, the student will submit for approval to the administrative committee an Individualized Program. This will detail courses and other experience that will fulfill the degree’s requirements as well as establish the acceptable area of emphasis and make original contribution.

Noncourse requirements

Student portfolio

This noncourse requirement assesses the student’s progress and contains all the items from the entire program which the student submitted and received back after being

Integration papers

At the conclusion of each course, students write a brief (3 – 5 pages) Integration Paper that will summarize and appraise how it interacted with at least two of the University Student Learning Outcomes and at least two of the Program Learning Outcomes. At the conclusion of their studies, students write a longer (10 – 15 pages) Integration Paper that does the same thing for the program as a whole. The integration papers will be part of the student portfolio.

Comprehensive examination

Successful performance on this test establishes that the student is qualified to complete their Final Project. It is passed to the administrative committee’s satisfaction before the Final Project is approved.

Final project

Within the contours of what is appropriate for Master of Arts degrees, the final project is to make an original contribution. It can be a major paper reporting on significant literary, historical, social science, laboratory or field research; however, it can also be a video, program proposal, pilot project or work of art and drama. The project’s acceptability is determined by the administrative committee.

Normal time to complete the program

1.66 years (6 academic quarters) based on full-time enrollment; part time permitted.