See also: General Information | Ph.D. ProgramFields of Study | SGS Calendar | Graduate Handbook

Graduate Admissions Information Session

We will be hosting an information session on opportunities for graduate education in the Department for the Study of Religion. The Director of Graduate Studies and current graduate students will be on hand to answer your questions about how to submit the best possible application, what to expect in your first year of graduate school, expectations regarding language preparation, and other common questions.

October 17, 2019
11am-12:30 pm

Department for the Study of Religion, 170 St. George St. Room 318

Admission to the M.A. Program

Admission to the master’s program is governed by the Department’s ability to match the possible subject interests of applicants with the Department’s resources for graduate supervision.

At the master’s level, applicants for admission are asked to present a statement of an intended subject for graduate study. Admission is offered only to those with appropriate academic preparation and whose subject interests can be matched with the faculty resources of the Department.

Please note that admission into the M.A. program does not entail automatic subsequent admission into the Ph.D. stream; applications for the Ph.D. program are evaluated independently each spring.

Students who are thinking of applying for graduate study in the Department are advised to consider thoroughly the research topics and teaching interests of Department faculty members when formulating their statements of intended study. Consultation of the academic profiles of the Department’s faculty—on the website and published in the Graduate Handbook—is therefore strongly recommended. It may also prove useful to review the list of completed doctoral theses that Department faculty have supervised, which is available on our website. Prospective students are also invited to make direct contact, by email or telephone, with professors whose research interests appear to correspond or overlap with the intended area of inquiry.

The Department strives to admit the most qualified students, while at the same time securing a manageable distribution of students around a range of topics and areas of specialization. In the past few years, the Department has had incoming classes of between 8-18 new master’s students. The effects of these policies may mean that some highly qualified applicants are not offered admission. Students needing to undertake prerequisite undergraduate work are directed to apply for special student status via the Enrolment Services office, 172 St. George St. ( 416 978-2190.  /

Admission Eligibility, M.A. Program

To be eligible for admission to the M.A. program, applicants must normally have an appropriate undergraduate degree with specialization in Religion or in cognate subjects, with courses broadly equivalent in number and distribution to the University of Toronto’s Specialist program in Religion. Applicants must also have suitable language preparation and an average of at least A- in the final year, i.e. the courses that constitute the final quarter of a four-year program. In practice, the students admitted tend to have cumulative GPAs in the A- to A range.

Toronto’s B.A. Specialist program in Religion includes the equivalent of ten full-year courses (10 Y), distributed broadly as follows:

1Y – World Religions, or equivalent breadth in the religions of the world

2Y& 3Y – study in at least two religious traditions;

4Y, 5Y, & 6Y – courses using a variety of methods to study religion: e.g., history, sociology of religion, anthropology of religion, psychology of religion, literary criticism, philosophy of religion;

7Y to 10Y – at least four advanced courses in religion.

The Department  interprets equivalency very broadly, and considers courses taken in departments other than the Study of Religion as potentially appropriate, so long as the course content or the student’s work in the course included substantial study of religion.

Students will need to have language preparation that enables them to meet the language requirements of the M.A. program. Students who are contemplating graduate study in this Department are advised to secure in advance the languages requisite for their areas of scholarly interest.

Students without sufficient breadth or quantity of course work in religion, or without appropriate language preparation, will be asked to take additional work, either before admission or during an extended M.A. program as stipulated in their admission offer.

Application Procedures: M.A. Program

Application information, including a link to the online application, is available  at . Please note that the online application for September 2020 admission will be available as of October 1.  The Department uses a self-administered online application form. Applicants are required to complete the online application form, make their application payment, arrange for 3 reference letters, and upload scanned copies of their transcripts.

A complete application consists of:

1. Scanned copies of all previous post-secondary transcripts.

2. A statement (two pages maximum) of proposed study. For M.A. applicants, this should be a succinct statement of an intended topic or area of graduate study, a summary of preparatory training in appropriate theories, methods, and languages, and an indication of why the Department for the Study of Religion is a suitable place for the intended area of study.

3. A brief academic CV, with details of education, awards, and other information of academic interest.

4. A sample of written work of under 20 pages.

5. Three reference letters.

English Facility Requirement

If your primary language is not English and you graduated from a non-Canadian university where the language of instruction and examination was not English, then you must demonstrate your facility in English using one of the following methods. This requirement should be met at the time you submit your application.

1. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
2. Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB)
3. International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
4. The Certificate of Proficiency in English (COPE)
5. U of T School of Continuing Studies Academic Preparation Course

For further details please visit

Please note that it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all materials are provided by the application deadline.

Application Deadline, M.A. Program

The Department admits applicants only in September. The deadline for the receipt of completed applications for the 2020-21 year is December 15, 2019. Supporting documents must be submitted by December 20, 2019. 

Application Timeline, M.A. Program

December 15:  Deadline for all applications for September 2020 admission
Mid January-late February: Department reviews files and makes admission decisions
March 1:  First round of offers sent out
March 31: Deadline for response to first round of offers of admission
Early April: Second round of offers sent out
Mid-late April: Deadline for response to second round of offers of admission
April 30: All final admission decisions will be communicated

The Advising Process, M.A. Program

The Department’s advising process starts to work as soon as a potential student makes contact with the Department. It works intensively through admission and first enrolment, and continues until a student completes the program.

The potential student’s initial contacts with the Department are usually with the Graduate Administrator. Opening conversations and emails focus on whether the student is prepared for the Department’s program and whether supervision can be provided for the intended subject of study. During the application process the conversation continues, usually expanding to involve the Graduate Director and also professors whose research interests are similar to those of the applicant.

Following acceptance of the offer of admission, students will be contacted by the Graduate Director—usually by email or telephone—to begin discussions about their programs. Incoming students will be provisionally assigned an Academic Advisor, chosen on the basis of supervisory expertise in the student’s stated area of scholarly interest. Before the start of the academic term, the student, the Academic Advisor, and the Graduate Director will meet to work out the student’s individualized program of study.

Degree Requirements, M.A. Program

The Calendar of the School of Graduate Studies contains the regulations governing graduate study and degrees. The section on the Study of Religion gives the regulations applicable specifically to graduate study and degrees in the Department for the Study of Religion. This Graduate Handbook elaborates on the information published in the Calendar.

The M.A. program has two components: courses and languages. In consultation with the student and his or her assigned Academic Advisor, the Graduate Director approves the courses to be taken, and the language or languages needed to fulfill the language requirement.

1. Courses

The regular M.A. program requires FOUR full-year graduate courses, or the equivalent combination of half-year courses. Included in this total are the MA Method and Theory Group (RLG 1200H) and the Major Research Paper (RLG2000Y).

2. Major Research Paper

M.A. students must produce a Major Research Paper, which is credited under the designation of RLG2000Y. The Major Research Paper is written under the supervision of the Academic Advisor, and is usually completed in the summer. The MRP is based on primary research and is usually between 50 – 70 pages in length.

3. Languages

Before completing the M.A. degree, students are required to give evidence of reading knowledge of at least one language, in addition to English, selected from languages of modern scholarship and/or necessary source languages. To satisfy the language requirements, students must pass a language requirement examination conducted by the Centre. Language courses are not accepted as equivalent.

The M.A. program may be taken part-time, provided the student enrols and completes all the requirements for the degree within five years for the regular program, or six years in the case of an extended program requiring additional courses or language study.

Registration and Enrollment, M.A. Program

Registration materials are sent by mail during the summer from the School of Graduate Studies to all new and returning students. Students register by paying their fees.

New M.A. students: Incoming M.A. students will meet with the Graduate Director and their assigned Academic Advisor before the first enrollment, to discuss the details of their programs and to complete their enrollment form.

Returning students: Returning M.A. students taking course work and language study should meet with the Graduate Administrator during the enrollment period if they have questions about their program.

T-Cards: New students must obtain a T-card, which serves as a student identification and library card. T-cards are issued at Robarts Library upon presentation of appropriate identification and documentation. For information, consult the library website at:

Course timetable: During the summer, the Department publishes a timetable of all graduate courses to be offered in the coming academic year by faculty members of the Department (including most cross-listings with cognate departments). The list will also include courses that have received approval too late to be published in the SGS Calendar. The timetable is posted on the Department’s web site.  Directed Reading courses meet according to the arrangements made with the professor in charge.

Other courses: Students are eligible to take any course offered in the School of Graduate Studies for which they have prerequisite knowledge, on condition that the instructors and departments offering the courses grant permission. Students are also eligible to take a course offered in the Toronto School of Theology (TST), provided it is an Advanced Degree course (5000 level only), and is taught by a TST faculty member who is also a member of the Graduate Faculty of SGS. For purposes of SGS registration, such a course is assigned the Department designation RLG4001 (Directed Reading: TST Seminar).

Funding, M.A. Program

Unfortunately, there are only a few limited options available for funding at the master’s level; these are rare and none can come with any guarantee or assurance in the terms of admission.

Depending on the fluctuating enrollment figures for undergraduate courses, Teaching Assistantships may, on occasion, become available for some M.A. students. Master’s students are also encouraged to apply for fellowships and scholarships awarded by sources external to the university. Applications for these awards may be made during the year prior to entering graduate school. The Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) awards Canada Graduate Scholarships, intended specifically for M.A. students. In 2013-14 this award’s value is $17,500. Note also that Ontario Graduate Scholarships(OGS) are awarded to master’s students as well as doctoral students and have a value of $15, 000. More information can be found on the SSHRC and SGS-OGS websites.

M.A. students who meet the eligibility requirements may apply for Work-Study positions offered by the Department for the Study of Religion or by individual professors.

Those who meet the relevant requirements may apply for student loans through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) or the equivalent agencies and institutions in their home jurisdiction.

Master’s Tuition Fee Bursary

These bursaries are available to full-time master’s students who must go beyond their initial registration period in order to complete a small amount of remaining work. Applications are available at