Master of Arts in Islamic Studies (MAIS) is a 36 credit-hours dual-track program. In this program, all students are required to include the following core courses to their study:
* MAIS 620 Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion
* MAIS 621 The Qur’an and its Interpretation
* MAIS 622 History of Islamic Thought and Literature
The core courses are designed to provide a broad background both in the study of religion and in the foundations of Islamic Studies. After completing the core courses, students choose either the Academic or the Professional track of the program to complete their study. The academic track of MAIS is designed for students who aim to continue their education on a Ph.D. level in preparation for an academic career. The professional track of the program is for students who are interested in Islamic Studies for careers, which may vary in a wide range from Islamic Ministry to journalism.
The RGS dual-track system affords all of the students in the program the opportunity to explore the foundations of the program in partnership not only with students who share similar track-specific career goals, but also with students pursuing the alternative track and associated career goals. In other words, in the core courses, students in the professional track will have the opportunity to explore the course material in conversation with their colleagues in the academic track, and vice versa. In this way, students in both tracks will be programmatically positioned to recognize the critical importance of integrating the academic with the professional and vice versa. Thus, the core experience is, in part, designed to cultivate an awareness in students that their developing expertise in either the academic or professional area is a matter of specialization and emphasis, and not a matter of operating in silos of professional exclusivity. The core experience is designed to signal to students that their graduate formation as religious leaders will be deficient to the extent that the aspiring academic professional fails to integrate an ongoing concern with the practical dimensions of religious leadership, or to the degree that the aspiring practical professional fails to so the same with the academic dimensions.
Another important aspect of MAIS curriculum is its interdisciplinary nature in a way that it interweaves, throughout the curriculum, its multiple commitments to:
* The best of critical Western scholarship in Islamic studies and related disciplinary fields such as history, political science, sociology, anthropology, and comparative literature
* Key texts and other elements of the classical Islamic religious sciences, as well as some of their concomitant methods of classical pedagogy e.g., Qur’anic recitation, and memorization
* The classical and more recent theories and methods of the history of religions (a.k.a. “religious studies”)
* The theories and methods of the burgeoning field of interreligious studies, including the sub-fields of the theologies of religious pluralism and comparative theology