Master of Arts in Religious Studies

We Understand Where You’ve Been. We’ll Help You Get Where You Want to Go.

Apply By: 4/19/2021

Classes Start:

About the Online MA in Religious Studies

Religion has existed since the dawn of humanity, with evidence showing our earliest societies engaging in some sort of religious practices. Considering this ever-present nature of religion, what does our everlasting devotion to higher powers say about the very nature of human beings? Athens State University’s online Master of Arts in Religious Studies allows you to explore that question to the fullest extent, fueled by a dedicated PhD-level faculty who will push you to develop the critical thinking and leadership skills you’ll need to passionately pursue research and career opportunities that explore humanity’s connections to religion.

As one of the few religious studies graduate degrees that are nondenominational and unaffiliated with any specific religious groups, our online religious studies master’s program examines religion from an objective, neutral perspective. Our faculty will help you uncover your own interests in the field of religion and work with you to develop research that aligns with areas you’re passionate about.

What You’ll Learn

We offer our MA in Religious Studies in two tracks, based on your goals — thesis and non-thesis:

  • The 30-credit thesis track is perfect for students who are interested in the academic pursuit of religious studies, as it is specifically designed to propel them toward doctoral degrees, teaching positions, or research-related careers.
  • The 36-credit non-thesis track helps students develop the skills to advance to leadership positions in faith-based communities and nonprofits with additional courses such as Advanced Study of Social Change and Transformational Leadership and Advanced Study of Leading Change in Faith Communities and Other Nonprofits.

Students in this online program broaden their perspective on the basic tenets of religion while comparing major world religions and their beliefs. They gain a deeper understanding of:

  • The historical development of religion
  • The cultural significance of religion 
  • Religious orientation’s relation to society

Affordable Tuition

Cost per credit for the online MA in Religious Studies program is just $348 plus fees.

Athens State boasts one of the most affordable tuition rates among state universities in Alabama and Tennessee.

Athens State offers a flexible tuition payment plan that works with your budget.

Online Tuition, In-State or Out-of-State:
$325 per credit hour

Support You Can Count On


83% of Athens State alumni are employed following graduation — outperforming average national employment rates.

Experienced Faculty

The majority of our religious studies faculty members are full-time professors, meaning you’ll get unparalleled attention and engagement — including frequent Zoom workshops that mimic the face-to-face experiences you’d receive on campus.

Small Classes

Small class sizes — typically around 18 students — deliver a personalized learning experience.


Because our tuition is affordable, our alumni typically recover the costs of their education within six years of graduation.


Our online graduate degrees are designed with flexibility at the forefront, so students can balance their studies with their busy lives.


Founded in 1822, Athens State University is the oldest continuously operating institution of higher education in Alabama, with 200 years of academic excellence.

*according to a 2019-20 Alabama economic impact study by Emsi Burning Glass

How to Apply

To be considered for admission to the online MA in Religious Studies program, prospective students must:

  • Complete an application for graduate admission and submit all official transcripts
  • Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Submit official test scores required by the particular program (e.g., GMAT, GRE, or MAT) 
  • Submit all additional documents required by the program, noted in the application
  • Meet all published deadlines for submitting application materials

Prospective students who earned a bachelor’s degree with a GPA below 3.0 but above 2.5 may be eligible for conditional admission. Contact an admissions advisor for more details at

Master of Arts in Religious Studies student studying

Religious Studies Careers

A religious studies master’s will prepare you for a variety of careers in everything from church leadership to social work and work with nonprofits. The program will also prepare you for Ph.D. work in religious studies.

Possible Careers:

  • Pastoral leadership
  • Children, youth, and adult education
  • Teaching and/or research
  • Social work
  • Nonprofit and community service
  • Counseling

Fill out the form below to find out more about Athens State University’s online master’s in religious studies program.