From examining the terminology used by different religions to experiencing faith communities other than their own, our students are immersed in a collective – rather than comparative – application of theological education – strengthened by interfaith dialogue with faculty and peers.
You will graduate with confidence in your knowledge of the foundational concepts of Abrahamic religions and the role of faith in local, social, and political contexts, as well as advanced-level research experience that enables you to articulate this understanding in professional roles across fields that apply faith as a means to care for others.
The MA in Interreligious Studies (MAIRS) is a 36-credit-hour academic graduate degree curriculum built around the engagement of students from different religious traditions who study the various topics and disciplines of religion and develop skills in religious performance. Students complete core interreligious coursework, choose a specialization and complete a final capstone project or thesis.
Students choose one of three specializations:
- General Studies
- Islamic Studies
- Ministerial Studies (Please select this specialization if you are interested in the Cooperative M.Div. pathway)
Language Proficiency in reading scriptural texts, such as Hebrew, New Testament Greek, or Qur’anic Arabic is highly recommended for students in the Ministerial Studies specialization or the Islamic Studies specialization.
Where Your Journey May Lead
MA in Interreligious Studies Career Paths
While you, like many HIU alumni, can pursue more traditional career paths in faith-based organizations and clergy roles, studying religion in a multi-faith classroom prepares you for careers that make the world a better place in many shapes and forms.
Start a Non-Profit or NGO
Advocacy & Social Services
International Diplomacy & Foreign Affairs
Teaching in Public & Private Schools
Become a Business Owner
Pathway into Chaplaincy
Courses you may take
Here is a small sample of courses students in the program take. To view the entire course listing, use the link below.
The Value of Experience
Research & Projects
Our students have used their capstone projects to create interfaith clergy networks and research projects to examine questions of religion in contemporary society like “When Did Black Lives Begin to Matter? Race Dynamics and American Muslims” and “Spiritual Connections Between Christians and Muslims in a Hospital Chaplaincy Context.”
Our faculty bring years of academic and practical experience teaching and serving different faith communities across the globe. They are award-winning authors, scholars of religion, and passionate leaders in interreligious and religious relations, as well as higher education. They have spoken to their research on international stages, emphasizing sociological contexts, gender, and religion in the modern world.
With a foundation in interreligious thought, dialogue and critical thinking, our alumni are set on a path to many fields such as social justice, policy, human rights, foreign diplomacy, community organization, social work, nonprofit leadership and psychology – in addition to traditional religious roles.
The People Who Thrive Here
Despite coming from different faith, cultural, and professional backgrounds, your interreligious studies peers share your curiosity, willingness to embrace complexity, and love for all of humanity. Together, we embrace our differences and see faith as a means to connect with and care for others.
Rochelle Bayless ‘13
Founder & Executive Director, Grace Café
Rochelle’s HIU master’s thesis, A Theology of Food as Acts of Grace, became the blueprint for Grace Café, a non-profit restaurant that addresses hunger and food insecurity by serving people without regard for their ability to pay in Danville, KY. https://www.linkedin.com/in/rochellebayless/
Junaid Sulahry ‘14
Supervisory Asylum Officer – Refugee, Asylum, & International Operations, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Junaid is an attorney with expertise in immigration law who has served refugees in non-profits, law firms, a national civil rights organization, the U.S. Public Defenders Office, and as a Policy Intern at the Pentagon before joining the DOHS. He also met with President Obama while advocating to reform federal surveillance practices.
Kyra E. Jenney '22
Kyra is the Department Head of History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences at Choate Rosemary Hall, a private, college-preparatory boarding school for grades 9-12. She says, “We seek to employ interdisciplinary and individualized approaches to learning and to create spaces for students to develop the reflective practices of critical thinking, identity cultivation, and cultural humility.”
Jean Amos Lys ‘11
Owner & Therapist, Lys Counseling & Consulting, LLC
A psychotherapist with over 7 years of experience in the mental health field and ministry, Jean combines science and the sacred for healing. He provides both faith-based and secular counseling and is dedicated to the stability of people of color's mental health in the context of faith-based trauma.
Emily Barger ‘18
A Filmmaker, photographer, and producer with a BA in Film Production from Emerison College, Emily depicts complex themes like the struggles of teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic and stereotypes Muslim women face in the U.S and interviews activists and congresspeople.
Cathi Nelson ‘07
President & Founder, The Photo Managers; Speaker; Author
A passionate photographer, Cathi added to her BA in Communications from the University of Connecticut and MA in Humanities from Wesleyan University to build a business that empowers others to use visual storytelling to preserve and share their personal life journeys and family stories.
Opportunities & Highlights
Hartford International students can take classes through the Boston Theological Interreligious Consortium, a consortium of seminaries and theological schools including Boston College, Boston University, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Harvard Divinity School, Hebrew College, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Seminary, and St. John’s Seminary & Theological Institute.Read More
A Pioneer for Muslim-Christian Relations
The Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations is the country’s oldest center for such study, opening in 1973.Read More
United States and Canada, the New England Commission of Higher Education and approved by the Office for Financial and Academic Affairs for Higher Education of the State of Connecticut.Read More
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Broaden your perspective. Deepen your ability to make a difference. Hartford International University programs prepare religious leaders and peacemakers who go beyond their own beliefs to embrace people of all faiths.