Master of Arts in Religious Traditions of Asia and the Pacific
**Now Accepting Applications for Fall 2022**
The Department of Religion at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is excited to introduce our newly redesigned graduate curriculum. All of our graduate faculty members have expertise in the religions of Asia and the Pacific, encompassing a wide range of religious traditions, including Hinduism, Chinese and Japanese Buddhism, Daoism, Christianity and Ho‘omana Hawai‘i (Hawaiian religion). Collectively, our faculty represent the interdisciplinary nature of the contemporary study of religion; for this reason, we can provide a broad framework for training graduate students in a wide range of approaches through our core curriculum of graduate seminars. Students are encouraged to bring their specific area of interest to the seminar table, where students and faculty together explore methodologies for studying religions, sacred space, the practice of religion through meditation, prayer and ritual, new religious movements, healing practices in religious traditions, and indigenous religions of Asia and the Pacific. It is particularly exciting that our program now balances the history of the study of religion, necessary to navigate most existing literature in the field of religious studies, with a cutting-edge approach of decolonial methodologies in the study of religion.
All graduate students in the program have the opportunity to conduct original research, whether text based or grounded in field work, which they can present in one of two forms: a thesis, which is recommended for students planning to continue their education in a doctoral program after completing the MA, or a research project that articulates the results of their research in an innovative way.
● REL 600 The Study of Religion Survey of development of history of religions; application of methodologies from anthropology, history, philosophy, political science, psychology, and sociology.
● REL 601 Sacred Space This course introduces ways that sacred sites are used by religious adherents in Asia and the Pacific. Students will survey different methodologies, and develop a final project on a single sacred site.
● REL 602 The Study of Religion in Practice The study of rituals and practices in the religious traditions of Asia and the Pacific, with a focus on the importance and significance they play in people’s lives.
● REL 603 The Study of New Religious Movements Seminar exploring methods developed for the study of New Religions, particularly in the USA, Asia and the Pacific. Considers implications of these methodologies for studies of other religious traditions.
● REL 604 Indigenous Religions & Decolonial Theories and Methods Surveys decolonial approaches to the study of religion(s) and focuses on a specific Indigenous religion of Asia and the Pacific to examine the ways that historical paradigms have adversely influenced the study of indigenous religions.
● REL 605 Healing in the Religious Traditions of Asia and the Pacific Seminar focused on approaches to healing in the religious traditions of Asia and the Pacific. Explores commonalities between religious traditions, geographical areas, historical periods, and disciplines.
Graduate Curriculum in Detail
The department has two graduate program plans leading to the MA degree: a thesis-based track (Plan A) and a project-based track (Plan B). Both plans are designed as two-year programs.
Under both plans, students will have an opportunity to carry out in-depth research in Asian and/or Pacific religions. 30 credits are required (excluding courses used to fulfill language requirements), including the following six courses (18 credits):
● REL 600 History and Theory of the Study of Religion (3)
● REL 601 Sacred Space (3)
● REL 602 The Study of the Ways Religion is Practiced (3)
● REL 603 The Study of New Religious Movements (3)
● REL 604 Indigenous Religions & Decolonial Theories and Methods (3)
● REL 605 Healing in the Religious Traditions of Asia and the Pacific (3)
Electives consist of any course in the department (400-level and above, excluding 499). Two complementary graduate courses (3 credits each) from other disciplines may be accepted at the discretion of the thesis advisor and graduate chair. No more than two 400-level courses may be used to satisfy this requirement. Any courses from outside the department must be approved by the graduate advisor or committee chair.
Students are required to complete two years of an Asian or Pacific language closely connected to their research. The choice must be approved by the thesis advisor and graduate chair. The grade for the fourth semester of language study must be a B-minus or better.
This language requirement will be waived for students demonstrating language proficiency by an equivalency exam. An exam will be set by the student’s advisor and assessed by two faculty readers (one from within the department and one from a department in which the language is taught).
Upper-division language courses must be approved by the graduate chair in order to count towards the 30 credits required for an MA in Religion. Students cannot use any language course to satisfy both graduate credit and language requirements.