The MA in Women’s Studies in Religion is designed to introduce students to the field of feminist scholarship in religion. The program allows students great flexibility in designing their course of study while the core courses introduce students to the important methodologies in these fields (see below). Students may also elect to do internships in agencies dealing with women or women’s issues through the MA in Applied Women’s Studies as part of their MA studies.
The program requires 38 to 46 units of course work and 2 to 10 thesis units, for a total of 48 units. These must include 12 units of courses in Women's Studies in Religion, 12 units in Religion or related disciplines, and 12 units in methods courses.
1. Methods Courses
REL 304 Introduction to Women’s Studies in Religion
This course explores the rapidly expanding field of Women’s Studies in Religion from a multi-cultural and multi-religious perspective. A comparative approach is used to examine women’s reconceptualizations of the divine in the major religious traditions, issues of hermeneutics, analyses of women’s approach to sexuality, spirituality, ethics and the environment. The global context of feminism will be highlighted by sessions devoted to women’s religious practices in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
REL 363 Major Interpreters in the Study of Religion
This course will provide an introduction to methodological issues in the study of religion through a reading of classic theories of religion (e.g., Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Freud, and Otto), as well as notable examples of contemporary theory and interpretation, against the backdrop of the history of Christian thought and the rise of the human sciences in the post-Enlightenment West.
Any course dealing with feminist methodological approaches to a discipline will fulfill the feminist theory requirement. These include Feminist Theory, Feminist Epistemology, Feminism and Post- Colonialism, Feminism and Queer Theory, Feminist Political Theory, etc.
2. Women’s Studies in Religion Courses
WSR students must take three courses in Women’s Studies in Religion (courses that deal with religion from a feminist perspective), for example, “Feminism and Process Thought,” “Gender, Violence and Religion,” “Matristics: Medieval Woman’s Theology.”
3. Related Courses
WSR students must take three courses in religion, women’s studies, or related disciplines. Women’s Studies in Religion students may elect to take upper division Women’s Studies courses at the undergraduate colleges (these must be at the 200 level), courses listed by the School of Religion, or any other courses available at the Graduate University.
Women’s Studies in Religion students will meet as a group each semester with a faculty person to discuss registration and to plan their coursework for the coming semester.
Women’s Studies in Religion is an international field with valuable scholarship being done in Europe, Asia and Latin America. To enable a student to participate in this larger world of scholarship reading knowledge of either French, German or Spanish is required. A student may demonstrate this proficiency by passing the French, German or Spanish exam. The examination text given to the student for translation will be taken from a text in the field of Women’s Studies in Religion. For more on the language exam, please see www.cgu.edu/sah/languageexam.
Advisory Group Meeting
The Women’s Studies in Religion students meet once a month for a meal and discussion in the home of one of the faculty members. The discussion is led by a student facilitator and the agenda is set by questions raised in the classroom: usually issues relating to the integration of course work and written work with the student’s statement of educational goals. Once or twice a semester the Women’s Studies in Religion Advisory Group meets together with the Women in Religion Salon to hear faculty and/or student presentations of recent research.
Thesis and Oral Defense
The Master’s thesis provides an opportunity for students to gain the skills for writing a publishable piece of work. The requirements for the Master’s thesis in WSR are the following:
1) a research project in the student’s area of specialization;
2) prepared in conjunction with the student’s advisor or advisory committee;
3) 60-85 pages in length;
4) three readers mandatory;
5) there will be an oral defense (1 hr.);
6) the completed and approved thesis must be submitted to the Registrar's office according to CGU guidelines
7) it is completed within the institutional time limit of five years for the MA program.
Early in the spring semester of each year there will be a master’s thesis workshop for the Women’s Studies in Religion students to provide guidance on formulating a topic and strategies for forming a committee. The thesis committee will consist of three persons: the Chair, who will have primary responsibility for directing the research; and two readers. The Chair will need to be a member of the Women’s Studies in Religion Faculty. After obtaining the agreement of faculty members to serve on the Supervisory (Thesis) Committee, the student will file the Supervisory Committee Request form. The Supervisory Committee Request Form needs to be signed by each of the committee members and submitted to the School of Religion Office.
The Proposal: After the Supervisory Committee has been formed, the student, in consultation with the advisor (who serves as chair of the committee), will prepare the thesis proposal. The advisor brings this to the committee for its approval. Proposals should be written clearly and accurately. When the committee has approved the proposal and the members have signed the Thesis Proposal Approval form, the student submits it with one copy of the proposal to the School of Religion Office.
The proposal should be 5 pages in length and include the title of the thesis, the research problem addressed by the thesis, the significance of the problem, the (tentative) thesis, a discussion of work previously done on the problem, and the scope and limitations of the thesis. The student will append a chapter outline and a bibliography.
The Completed Work: CGU guidelines for preparing theses are available in the Religion Office. All theses must conform in format and style to the CGU guide. When the thesis has been completed, the student submits copies of the work to the advisor for distribution to each member of the committee at least seven weeks before the expected date of the oral examination. In addition to the completed work, the original copy of the title page is to be submitted to the advisor. The advisor, then, will arrange to have this signed by members of the committee when the committee is ready to approve the work.
Oral Examination: When the Thesis Supervisory Committee concludes that the thesis is ready for the oral examination, the student provides copies, including any revisions, to the members of the committee. The student is responsible for securing a mutually acceptable date and time for the oral exam and for notifying the School of Religion Office. This must take place at least three weeks before the date of the exam. Exams are to be scheduled for one hour. After the oral examination has been passed, and corrections/revisions have been made, the student will present the original of the work and one duplicate to the Registrar, and a copy of the signed title page to the School of Religion Office. The binding fees are paid at the Registrar's office at this time. All scheduling deadlines are calculated in accordance with the institutional deadlines for completing thesis requirements in a given semester. Please consult the CGU Bulletin for further information regarding deadlines.