The Master of Arts in Islamic Studies examines Islam’s relation to other religious traditions and the contemporary debates and issues concerning Muslims globally.

From its inception to its place among contemporary nations and religions, Islam and its global identity are central areas of study in this unique master’s program. You will examine leading Islamic scholarship and gain broad understanding of Islam’s scriptural texts. A focus on the development of Islamic thought through the primary domains of Islamic literature—theology, philosophy, and mysticism—will enable you to understand the religion’s socio-historical, political, and cultural frameworks, a holistic view merging past and present perspectives. You will also address the relation of Islam to other religions by taking comparative courses in Christianity and Judaism. This program provides excellent background preparation for a doctoral degree in religion or to pursue a variety of careers in government, international corporations, media outlets and non-profit organizations.

Program Highlights
  • The MA in Islamic Studies offers three tracks of study: Quranic Studies; Sexuality, Gender, and Feminist Studies in Islam; and Environmental Studies in Islam.
  • Interdisciplinary concentrations are available to Religion students, including American Studies, Early Modern Studies, Hemispheric & Transnational Studies, Media Studies, and Museum Studies.
  • You will have access to the libraries of CGU and Claremont University Consortium which offer more than two million volumes – more than 250,000 in the field of religion alone.

Program at a Glance

40 units

2 years

*This estimate assumes full-time registration and pursuit of the degree. Actual completion times will vary and may be higher, depending on full- or part-time course registration, units transferred, and time to complete other degree requirements.

Fall | Spring


MA in Islamic Studies

Featured Courses

Introduction to Islamic Studies

Provides a comprehensive introduction to the rich, evolving, and multifarious religious tradition of Islam through an interdisciplinary and critical examination of salient readings and issues.

Classical Arabic Literature & the Qur’an

Examines the Qur’an as the document of a communication process and studies its inter-textual relation with ancient Arabic poetry and Biblical and post-Biblical traditions.

REL 444
Islamic Cosmology & Mysticism

Explores the interconnections between Islamic cosmology and religion, art, architecture, hermeneutics, and more, as well as Islamic cosmological contributions to contemporary ecological issues.

REL 458
Feminism & Quranic Studies

Explores feminist inquiry regarding Muslim women and their representation in the Qur’an, as well as Muslim feminist theological interpretations and exegeses of the Qur’an.

REL 362
Theories of Religion

Takes an in-depth survey of the major theories of religion as they are portrayed through some of their influential interpreters in the post-Enlightenment West.


  • 40 units of approved coursework
  • Competency in intermediate Arabic (students may complete intermediate Arabic courses at other institutions and transfer up to 10 units to fulfill this requirement, OR students must pass a translation exam administered by the School of Arts & Humanities to fulfill the requirement)
  • Research Tool: The requirement is fulfilled by passing a foreign language translation exam administered by the School of Arts & Humanities; in some cases, and with advisor approval, the Research Tool may be fulfilled by completing an approved research methods course.
  • Thesis

Tracks of Study Sample Courses

Quranic Studies

  • Introduction to Islamic Studies
  • Classical Arabic Literature & the Qur’an
  • Feminism & Quranic Studies
  • Western Quranic Studies
  • Scripturalization Seminar
  • Comparative Religion Seminar

Environmental Studies in Islam

  • Introduction to Islamic Studies
  • Environmental Ethics & Mystical Traditions in Islam
  • Islamic Cosmology & Mysticism
  • Divine Body: Religion & the Environment
  • Islamic Philosophy

Sexuality, Gender & Feminist Studies in Islam

  • Introduction to Islamic Studies
  • Engendering & Experience: Women in the Islamic Tradition
  • Gender & Sexuality in North Africa: Mernissi, al-Sadaawi & Djebar
  • Contemporary Issues in Gender & Islam
  • Seminar in Sexuality & Religion
  • Feminist Approaches to the Genre, Wives of the Prophet

Faculty & Research

  • Ruqayya Y. Khan profile image

    Ruqayya Y. Khan

    Professor of Religion
    Malas Chair of Islamic Studies

    Research Interests

    The Qur'an, Arabic literatures, progressive Islamic theologies, women in Islam, Islam and environmental ethics, Islam and the digital age, late antiquity and Islam, origins of Islam, cultures of Umayyad Damascus and Abbasid Baghdad

  • Sallama Shaker profile image

    Sallama Shaker

    Senior Fellow of Middle East & International Studies

    Research Interests

    Power Politics, Religion, and Culture in the Middle East; Feminization of Poverty and Global Challenges; Globalization

  • Nicola Denzey Lewis profile image

    Nicola Denzey Lewis

    Professor of Religion
    Margo L. Goldsmith Chair in Women’s Studies in Religion

    Research Interests

    Social and Intellectual History of the Roman Empire, Gnosticism, Women’s Studies, Religion in the Roman Empire and Late Roman Empire, Late Antiquity

  • Gawdat Gabra profile image

    Gawdat Gabra

    Clinical Professor of Coptic Studies
    Professor Emeritus

    Research Interests

    Religion, Coptic studies, Egyptian Christianity

  • Daniel Ramírez profile image

    Daniel Ramírez

    Associate Professor of Religion

    Research Interests

    American religious history; Latin American religious history; Religion, migration, and transnationalism; Religion in borderlands; Contemporary theories of religion

  • Tammi J. Schneider profile image

    Tammi J. Schneider

    Danforth Professor of Religion
    Chair, Religion Department

    Research Interests

    Ancient Near Eastern history, literature, archaeology, and religion;
    Women in the Hebrew Bible

Where You Can Find Our Alumni

Interdisciplinary Concentrations

As a student in the School of Arts & Humanities, you have the option of completing one of five interdisciplinary concentrations.

American Studies

The American Studies concentration takes a multidisciplinary approach to the study of United States culture, society, civilization, and identity through the curricular lenses of history, literature, critical theory, and more.

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Early Modern Studies

The Early Modern Studies concentration undertakes interdisciplinary examination of history, culture, politics, and society within the transitional and transformative period that stretched between Medieval and modern societies, marked especially by the advent of print, Christian confessional war, and the rise of the modern state.

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Hemispheric & Transnational Studies

A comparative analysis of culture in the Americas, the concentration in Hemispheric & Transnational Studies explores how scholarship on the Atlantic, borderlands, and diaspora have reshaped U.S. American Studies, Caribbean Studies, and Latin American Studies, emphasizing the topics of empire, race, religion, and revolution.

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Media Studies

Situated at the bustling intersection of cultural studies, new media, critical theory, and popular culture, the burgeoning field of Media Studies examines the creative and critical practices of media consumers, producers, artists, and scholars, focusing on questions of representation, power, technology, politics, and economy.

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Museum Studies

The Museum Studies concentration investigates the history and political role of museums in society, the interpretation and display of a wide variety of cultural productions, and topics of special concern to museums as cultural organizations, using a multidisciplinary, practice-based approach to understand the historical development of this evolving field.

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These concentrations are available for students pursuing the following degree programs:

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Jill Steggall

Assistant Director of Admissions
T: 909-607-1186