A Seventh-day Adventist Organization

MA in Religion and Society

Religions are always the most powerful forces for good and evil. They frequently use their vast resources to help and heal; however, too often they are used to destroy and slaughter.  Thousands suffer and die as the result in a seemingly endless cycle of bigotry and violence.  This happens most painfully from a misunderstanding of how religions interact with their societies.  This is why specialists are needed to integrate their professional skills with an advanced understanding of these complexities.

This program is designed to equip talented and dedicated people to fill this need.   Professors are specialists in various areas with this overall purpose in mind. They may focus on issues in ancient religions and societies or contemporary ones, but understanding how they interact is always the main focus.

Students may complete this program prior to beginning professional or graduate school.  Some will be emerging or practicing professionals in many different fields (i.e., lawyers, public health specialists, social workers, health care professionals, teachers, researchers, etc.)   Others desire to serve in non-governmental organizations all over the world.  The program will also prepare those planning to teach religion and social studies on the secondary level.  (Teacher certification must be obtained elsewhere.)   International students will be able to enrich their education by earning this degree in the United States.       

The program is interdisciplinary and individualized.  Using the resources of the School of Religion and the entire university, each student and his or her mentor will formulate and acquire faculty approval for a personalized Individualized Area of Emphasis that matches his or her interests and qualifications.  Several examples of emphases are outlined below.

Program Outcomes

Graduates of this program will be able to:

  • Evaluate the scholarly theories of religion today
  • Compare the prominent features of the most influential religions
  • Assess the successfulness of Christianity’s interactions with society in one of its major eras
  • Appraise the successfulness of one other religion’s interactions with society in one of its major eras
  • Make an original contribution to the study of religion and society

An undergraduate degree in religion is not required. Students may progress through the program at their own pace (up to five years maximum). All students must have a demonstrated proficiency with technology and have access to a personal computer and the Internet.
Professors in the Program represent areas of expertise such as biblical studies, theology, practical theology, marriage and family therapy, cultural psychology, American church history, health education, nursing, spiritual care, and ethics. This diversity of specialists provides you with a rich and balanced program of study.

All courses are taught from the Christian perspective at Loma Linda University. Students from over 65 religions and 80 countries study here. A mutual and shared respect for various cultures and beliefs is emphasized on the campus and in the classroom. Small class sizes allow for specified instruction and personal growth.

The Program draws upon resources from across the entire Loma Linda University campus. These include the Center for Spiritual Life and Wholeness and the Center for Christian Bioethics, both of which offer multiple programs, conferences, lecture series, etc., all intended for student enrichment.

Program Overview

The program consists of a minimum of 48 units. With the assistance of a faculty mentor and approval of the Program Director, the student will develop an individualized program that meets his/her distinctive interests and goals. This will consist of:

  • 12 units - Core courses
  • 16 units – Religion Electives
  • 16 units – Religion and/or Non-religion Electives
    • These may be taken from the School of Religion, or from another LLU School (i.e., Public Health or Behavioral Health)
  • 4 units – Final Project

Program Requirements

Students must complete a minimum of 48 quarter credits of course work (samples below), with an overall grade point average of B or better, with no grade lower than C, and no grade lower than a B- in a core course.

Core Course Work (12 units)

Objective: to provide students with an intense introduction to the theories, methods and sources of the study of religion.

RELT 501 Religion and Society Exploration of definitions, theories and typologies of "religion," as well as the impact of religion on society; specifically Christianity’s relationships with other religions throughout history. 4
RELR 502 Religion and Society Exploration of definitions, theories and typologies of “society,” including the significance of societies in shaping Christianity. Discussions will include the pre-modern, modern, and postmodern worldviews. 4
RELR 503 Religion and Society Exploration of theories and typologies of the interactions of religion and society. Topics include personal devotion and social change; influential leaders and transforming movements; and controversial cases. 4

Area of Emphasis (32 units)

Religion Courses To be taken from the LLU School of Religion 16
Religion or Non-Religion Courses Taken from School of Religion OR other LLU Department/School (i.e., Public Health, Behavioral Health) 16
  TOTAL 32

Final Project

RELG 696 Final Project 4

Sample Areas of Emphasis are outlined below for illustration purposes. Others are possible. Each student will develop a plan with the faculty advisor/mentor for designing an Individualized Area of Emphasis that focuses on a single topic, case, theme, era, problem, debate, or text, subject to approval by the Program Director.

Scripture

Possible Religion Electives Units
RELT 500 Biblical Hermeneutics   4
RELT 558 Old Testament Thought   4
RELT 559 New Testament Thought   4
RELE 527 Biblical Ethics   4
Possible Religion and/or Non-Religion Electives
RELT 526 Creation and Cosmology 4
RELT 560 The Gospel of John 4
RELT 564 The Life, Letters and Legacy of Paul 4
RELT 565 The Message of the Book of Revelation 4
  TOTAL 32

Ethics and Advocacy

Possible Religion Electives Units
RELT 558 Old Testament Thought 4
RELT 559 New Testament Thought 4
RELE 535 Ethical Issues in Public Health 4
RELE 548 Christian Social Ethics 4
Possible Religion and/or Non-Religion Electives
HADM 510 Health Policy Analysis and Synthesis 3
HADM 514 Health Care Economic Policy 3
HADM 516 International Economic Policy 3
NRSG 516 Health Policy 3
SPOL 615 Economic Theory and Social Policy 4
  TOTAL 32

Natural Sciences

Possible Religion Electives Units
RELT 558 Old Testament Thought 4
RELT 559 New Testament Thought 4
RELE 526 Creation and Cosmology 4
RELE 557 Theology of Human Suffering 4
Possible Religion and/or Non-Religion Electives
BIOL 558 Philosophy of Science 4
RELE 525 Ethics for Scientists 4
RELT 615 Seminar in Philosophy of Religion 4
RELT 617 Seminar in Religion and Science 4
  TOTAL 32

Behavioral Sciences

Possible Religion Electives Units
RELT 558 Old Testament Thought 4
RELT 559 New Testament Thought 4
RELR 584 Culture, Psychology and Religion 4
RELR 585 Psychology of Religion 4
RELR 586 Psychology of Moral and Faith Development  
Possible Religion and/or Non-Religion Electives
RELR 587 Religion and the Social Sciences 4
RELT 617 Seminar in Religion and Science 4
SPOL 613 Social Science Concepts 4
SPOL 614 Social Science Concepts 4
  TOTAL 32

Philosophy and Theology

Possible Religion Electives Units
RELT 558 Old Testament Thought 4
RELT 559 New Testament Thought 4
RELT 520 Church History 4
RELT 555 Adventist Experience 4
Possible Religion and/or Non-Religion Electives
RELT 508 Contemporary Christian Theology 4
RELT 526 Creation and Cosmology 4
RELT 615 Seminar in Philosophy of Religion 4
RELT 617 Seminar in Religion and Science 4
  TOTAL 32

Transfer credits

Students may transfer approved graduate-level courses from other accredited institutions, up to a maximum of 8 quarter units.

Admissions and Application Process

Students applying for admission must meet the following requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally-accredited institution
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 minimum
  • Essay (1,000 words minimum) describing how this Program would benefit the applicant personally and professionally
  • Personal Interview

Apply online at www.llu.edu/apply. The School of Religion has a rolling admission policy in which completed applications are reviewed and students are accepted on a continual basis. Your application must be submitted by the deadlines listed for the quarter you wish to enroll:

  • Fall quarter: August 1
  • Winter quarter: November 1
  • Spring quarter: February 1
  • Summer quarter: May 1

Documents required beyond the online application include:

  • All official transcripts of college/university work (mailed directly to LLU)
  • Three letters of recommendation (two academic and one from clergy)
  • Graduate Records Exam (GRE) scores, not more than five years old. Other standardized tests may be accepted upon request.
  • International applicants must submit current TOEFL scores and evaluations of any international transcripts – please visit http://www.llu.edu/apply/intltrans.html.

Note: All documentation should be received within two weeks after the application deadline for the quarter of choice. The online application will prompt you with instructions and timelines to successfully complete the process.