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The Master of Arts in Islamic Studies (MAIS) at Respect Graduate School offers the best of analytical Western scholarship in Islamic Studies. Students read from key texts of the classical Islamic disciplines and are introduced to classical and contemporary theories and methods of religious studies. They also study theories and methods in the rapidly growing field of interreligious studies, including the sub-fields of comparative theology and theologies of religious pluralism.

The required courses are designed to provide, on one hand, a strong background in traditional Islamic disciplines, and on the other, an ability to evaluate the tradition with the analytical mindset  needed in today’s rapidly changing world. The MAIS program at RGS fully prepares its graduates for a variety of future undertakings, such as continuing their graduate education in Islamic Studies or a related field, seeking training for a career in chaplaincy and community leadership, conducting research, embarking on a profession in a nonprofit organization, or simply continuing to learn and expand their knowledge.

The Master of Arts in Islamic Studies (MAIS) program at Respect Graduate School is a comprehensive, 36-credit-hour program, typically consisting of twelve courses. The structure of the program has three main components:

A. Introductory Courses

This stage of the program comprises five required courses.

B. Concentration or Elective Courses

At this stage, you can choose four elective courses within one of four possible concentrations or choose any four elective courses from different concentrations.

C. Final Research Project

The final phase of the program consists of three required courses dedicated to a research project.

A. Introductory Courses

All students are required to complete the following set of introductory core courses:

Course Number and Name Credit Hours Prerequisite
*MAIS 501 - Qur'anic (Classical) Arabic Reading Competence I: Morphology (Sarf) 3 Knowledge of Arabic Script
*MAIS 502 - Qur'anic (Classical) Arabic Reading Competence II: Grammar (Nahw) 3 MAIS 501
MAIS 503 - Introduction to Qur'anic Studies 3 None
MAIS 504 - Introduction to Hadith 3 None
MAIS 505 - Survey of Islamic Thought 3 None

*Important Note

Students can be exempted from the required courses MAIS 501 and MAIS 502 if they pass the Exemption Exam, which is available to applicants who are already fluent in classical Arabic. Students who have passed an exemption or competency examination at another institution must still take the RGS examination.

Students who do not pass the Exemption Exam must pass MAIS 501 and MAIS 502. If they do not pass these two courses or the Exemption Exam by the time they complete the introductory courses, they may not become official candidates in the graduate program and will not be permitted to continue into a concentration area or write a comprehensive research project/paper.

The introductory courses for the MAIS program are crucial to Islamic Studies and key to the program’s excellence, for the following reasons:

  1. The most important Islamic sources, including the Qur’an and the Hadith, two foundational sources of Islam, are in Arabic. Therefore, without a thorough understanding of the Arabic language, it is impossible to appreciate the essence of Islamic Studies. We have designed a highly effective teaching approach to reading classical or Qur’anic Arabic, with the goal of teaching students to understand Islamic texts in their original language over the course of two semesters. To achieve this, we use intensive lessons that focus solely on reading skills.
  2. The Qur’an and the Hadith, the authoritative sources of Islamic knowledge and the Islamic worldview, are at the center of the introductory core curriculum. Both are examined from a variety of perspectives, which consider their history, structure, and content, and how they have been interpreted.
  3. Past and present Muslims have generated a diverse range of views based on their various readings of the Islamic scriptural sources, the Quran and the Hadith. In Survey of Islamic Thought (MAIS 505), students are introduced to four intellectual traditions within Islam: Islamic theology, Islamic philosophy, Islamic jurisprudence, and Islamic spirituality. After this introduction, they can learn more about each of these traditions by enrolling in self-contained elective courses based on their interests.

B. Concentration Areas or Electives

To complete the 36-credit-hour requirement of the program, students must complete 12 credit hours of electives and/or independent study courses. This should be done in consultation with their advisor. A student may satisfy this 12-credit-hour requirement by working within one of the four concentrations shown below.

Choosing a concentration can be useful and effective for professional career growth. Because Islamic Studies is such a large discipline with so many fields and subject areas, a graduate program cannot possibly cover them all.

However, choosing a concentration is optional. A student may earn 12 credit hours by selecting freely from any of the courses listed in the concentrations below and any of the additional elective courses listed below.

1. Theoretical Disciplines (MAIS 509, 510, 511, 520)

Course Number and Name Credit Hours Prerequisite
MAIS 509: Islamic Theology (Kalam) 3 MAIS 505
MAIS 510: Islamic Philosophy 3 MAIS 505
MAIS 511: Islamic Spirituality 3 MAIS 505
MAIS 520: Islamic Ethics 3 None

2. Practical Disciplines (Pick four from MAIS 512, 513, 514, 520, 521, 522, 527)

Course Number and Name Credit Hours Prerequisite
MAIS 512: Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh and Usul al-Fiqh) 3 MAIS 505
MAIS 513: Islam and Contemporary Issues 3 MAIS 505
MAIS 514: Islam and Gender Issues 3 MAIS 505
MAIS 520: Islamic Ethics 3 None
MAIS 521: Skills for Islamic Ministry 3 None
MAIS 522: Introduction to Islamic Banking and Finance 3 None
MAIS 527: Islam and Global Politics 3 None

3. Historical Disciplines (Pick four from MAIS 515, 516, 517, 526, 529)

Course Number and Name Credit Hours Prerequisite
MAIS 515: History of Islamic Civilization I: From Beginning Until Pre-Modern 3 None
MAIS 516: History of Islamic Civilization II: From Pre-Modern Until Today 3 MAIS 505
MAIS 517: Sira: The Life of the Prophet (SA) 3 None
MAIS 526: Science and Civilization in Islam () 3 None
MAIS 529: History of Christian-Muslim Relations 3 None

4. Intercultural and Dialogical Disciplines (Pick four from MAIS 518, 519, 521, 524, 525, 529)

Course Number and Name Credit Hours Prerequisite
MAIS 518: Islam in America 3 None
MAIS 519: World Religions 3 None
MAIS 521: Skills for Islamic Ministry 3 None
MAIS 524: Dialogue in the World of Diversity 3 None
MAIS 525: CPE: Clinical Pastoral Education 3 None
MAIS 529: History of Christian-Muslim Relations 3 None

Additional Electives:

MAIS 523: Reading Islamic Texts in Classical Arabic (3 credit hours – Prerequisite: MAIS 501 and 502)

MAIS 528: The Near East (3 credit hour – Prerequisite: None)

MAIS 530: Independent Study (3 credit hour – Prerequisite: None)

C. The Final Research Project

Studying in our MA program entails more than just reading and learning in Islamic Studies. Researching and publicizing one’s knowledge equally important. Because of this, the curriculum provides students with essential research and writing skills and techniques. Students compose essays for each course under the supervision of the professor.

In addition, to complete the program students must write a comprehensive research paper that fulfills a 3-credit-hour requirement. Ideally, this paper should be written within the concentration or set of electives the student has chosen, and an oral defense of the paper is required before it can be officially submitted. While students may begin their research early in the program, they must complete their research paper during their last semester of study.

Course Number and Name Credit Hours Prerequisite
MAIS 506: Research Techniques in Islamic Studies and Resources 3 MAIS 501
MAIS 507: Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion 3 None
MAIS 508: Research Paper 3 All required and elective courses.

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