Religion Journalism Program

MA in Religious Studies with a Concentration in Journalism and Religion

As religion appears with growing force in the political, economic, social and cultural life of a globalizing world, its representation in various media, electronic and print, likewise grows in importance. The Program in Religious Studies has joined with the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute to provide a concentration within the Religious Studies MA program that provides education and training for students seeking careers as professional newspaper, magazine, or broadcast journalists with a special expertise on religious life. The area of study draws on courses offered by the Program in Religious Studies and the Journalism Institute. These courses are intended to provide students with the theoretical tools necessary to examine modern religious life and the issues that surround it in conjunction with training in journalistic writing, research, and ethics. The requirements for this concentration will include a final project in long-form journalism, an article aimed at a sophisticated general readership in expository, explanatory or investigative form on a subject related to religious life. Admission to the concentration will be made at the discretion of both the Program in Religious Studies and the Journalism Institute.

Journalism – Religious Studies – 36 credits total (20 Journalism, 16 Religious Studies)

The requirements for the concentration in religion and journalism include 36 points of course work (nine courses), distributed as follows:

Required courses in religious studies (16 points total)

RELST-GA.1001 Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion, (4 points)

RELST-GA.3397 Religion as Media, (4 points), or a substitute if it is not offered

Two elective courses focusing on the study of religion (8 points)

Required courses in journalism (20 points total)

JOUR-GA.1021-1022 Writing, Research, and Reporting Workshop I and II, (8 points)

JOUR-GA.2048 Introduction to Literary Reportage (4 points)

JOUR-GA.1044-1045 Portfolio Workshop I and II (8 points)

RELST-GA.1001 – Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion: Students explore fundamental theoretical and methodological issues for the academic study of religion, including some of the more important theories of the origin, character, and function of religion as a human phenomenon. Students cover psychological, sociological, anthropological, dialectical, post-colonial and feminist approaches, as well as some problems for the study of religion today: secularization theory and the intersection of religion and media.

RELST-GA.3397 – Religion as Media: Introduces students to the longstanding and complex connection between religious practices and various media, based on the premise that, like all social practice, religion is always mediated in some form or other. Religion does not function simply as unchanging content, while media names the ways that content is formed; instead, shifts in media technique, from ritual innovations to the invention of printing, TV, and the Internet, also shape religious practice. This course is interested in gathering theoretical tools for understanding the form and politics of this mutual dialectic.

JOUR-GA.1021-1022 – Writing, Research, and Reporting Workshop I, II: Provides a foundation in the principles and practices of basic news reporting. Includes lectures on reporting principles and techniques, study of specialized areas of reporting, and the completion of increasingly challenging in-class assignments. Students use New York City as a laboratory to gather and report actual news events outside the classroom.

JOUR-GA 2048 – Introduction to Literary Reportage The goal of this course is to help you create a distinctive body of work and, eventually, a capstone piece of literary reportage. It has three basic components. First, it will guide you through the research, reporting and thinking to refine and focus the project you will begin in Portfolio I. Second, it will introduce you to some of the authors, editors and publications of the genre. Third, it will familiarize you with some of the journalistic strategies you will use in your own work.

JOUR-GA 1044-1045 – Portfolio Workshops I, II.  A two semester, structured workshop during which Literary Reportage students will build a body of work. Additionally, every fall an expert in some facet of literary reportage will conduct a two session Master Class that focuses on a particular skill.


Elective courses for the concentration will be drawn from courses offered by both the Program in Religious Studies and the Department of Journalism. Courses could include but are not limited to: RELST-GA.1681 – Politics and Religion in America: 20th Century God, Gods and Godlessness; RELST-GA.1470 – Christianity and Culture in America; RELST-GA.1850 – Islam in the Contemporary World; RELST-GA.1019 – Religion: The R Word; RELST-GA.1050 – Literary Journalism: American Gods; and RELST-GA. 1231 – Magazine Writing: Journalism Faces Faith.

Application deadlines and requirements specific to the Concentration in Journalism

Journalism and Religion Application

Journalism requires applicants to write a personal essay. The essay is an extremely important part of the application, so treat it accordingly. The essay should be 1,000 to 1,500 words in length. In addition, applicants must submit at least two samples of their work, whether published or not.

As part of your personal essay, please include a discussion that provides the Admissions Committee with a sense of who you are as someone who aspires to a career in journalism, writing and reporting about important matters in the news and analysis of religious issues.

Besides the personal essay , two different writing samples are required. One should be an example of your strongest academic writing, preferably a paper written for an undergraduate course that demonstrates your ability to construct a coherent argument. It should not exceed 25 double-spaced pages. The second should represent your aptitude for journalism. A clip from your college newspaper, a personal essay, and an academic research paper are all acceptable.

Please append to your essay a brief statement of your plans for financing your graduate work. This statement must be included, whether or not you are applying for financial aid.

Please see below for Semester Sequencing of the Concentration in Journalism.

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Religious Studies

Literary Reportage