College of Arts, Languages & Letters
2530 Dole Street
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-8299
Fax: (808) 956-9894
*J. Lyon, PhD (Chair)—Christianity, Hebrew Bible, New Testament, history of religion in Hawai‘i
*H. J. Baroni, PhD—Japanese and East Asian religions, Buddhism in America
*M. A. Brown, PhD—Hawaiian/Polynesian religions
*R. Lamb, PhD—South Asian religions, Asian monasticism, ethics
*M. Mohr, PhD—Japanese and Asian religions
*J. E. E. Pettit, PhD—Daoism, Chinese religions
Cooperating Graduate Faculty
G. D. Panisnick, PhD—Western religions
Degrees Offered: Undergraduate Certificate in Islamic Studies, BA (including minor) in religion, MA in religion
The Academic Program
In keeping with the goals of UH Manoa, the Department of Religion takes advantage of the state’s strong social and cultural ties with Asia and the Pacific and seeks to enhance those ties. Within this extraordinary multicultural milieu, the Department of Religion serves as a link between the academic community and the many Asian and Pacific religious communities that flourish in Hawai‘i. Most of the major religious traditions– Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Daoism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Shinto, as well as Hawaiian and Polynesian religions–are represented and make Hawai‘i an ideal site and context for a study of Asian and Pacific religious communities and activities.
The Department of Religion is dedicated to the cultivation of a humanistic understanding of a wide range of religious traditions, ritual practices, philosophical speculations, ethical imperatives, and institutional histories. Its investigative approach is interdisciplinary and intercultural.
Undergraduate education in religion includes survey courses in Western, Asian, and Pacific religions. There are also thematic courses dealing with such issues as sexuality and death, politics and ethics, and the relationship between religion and other disciplines, such as anthropology, medicine, political science, and sociology.
Students must complete 30 credit hours in religion, including at least 18 credit hours in 300- and 400-level courses. A minimum 2.5 GPA in religion courses must be maintained for graduation. Required course: REL 300.
For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to programsheets/.
Students must complete 15 credit hours at the 300 level and above. Required course: REL 300.
The department has developed two graduate program plans leading to the MA degree: a thesis-based MA program (Plan A) and a non-thesis track (Plan B). Both Plans A and B are two-year programs.
Applicants to the MA program in religion must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited U.S. college, university, or its equivalent from a recognized foreign institution of higher learning. Applicants should include in the Statement of Objectives an explanation of how their academic background has prepared them for study in the religion MA program.
The thesis program provides students with an opportunity for graduate study in Asian or Polynesian religions. 30 credits are required.
Advancement to Candidacy: Candidacy may be granted after the first semester after completing 9 graduate credits plus REL 600 with a GPA of 3.0 or better (total 12 credits) and the language requirement.
Required courses (9 credits)
- REL 600 History and Theory of the Study of Religion (3)
- REL 700 Thesis Research (3, 3)
Area requirements (9 credits minimum)
Students must take at least three 600-level courses in their area of specialization (Asian or Polynesian).
Electives consist of any Religion course (400 level and above, excluding 499), other than those that fulfill program and area requirements. Two complementary graduate courses (3 credits each) from other disciplines may be accepted at the discretion of the thesis advisor and graduate chair. No more than two 400-level courses may be used to satisfy this requirement.
To achieve a mastery of language at the second-year level, students are required to complete two years of a language appropriate to their field of specialization (e.g., Chinese, Hawaiian, Hindi, Japanese, Sanskrit, Samoan, Tahitian, or another Asian or Polynesian language approved by the area advisor) with a minimum B-minus grade in the fourth semester of class.
This language requirement will be waived for students demonstrating language proficiency by an equivalency exam. These exams will be set by the student’s advisor and assessed by two faculty readers (one from the Department of Religion and one from the department in which the language is taught).
Language courses will not count towards the 30 credits required for an MA in religion.
Thesis (REL 700)
A maximum of 3 credits per semester for a total of 6 credits of REL 700, usually taken over two semesters is required. Students must be admitted to candidacy and must complete 12 credits before they can register for REL 700.
Completion of an original thesis, demonstrating a mastery of advanced research, analytic, and discursive skills, is required of all students in Plan A.
Each candidate must form a committee of three members of the graduate faculty, one of whom is from outside the department. Faculty reserve the right not to serve on a thesis committee.
After submission of a completed thesis to the committee for its consideration, the candidate must be present for the final oral examination on the subject of the thesis.
After all revisions as determined by the thesis committee have been incorporated and the thesis is in final form, the majority of the committee, including the chairperson, passes the student for the master’s degree. A candidate who fails may be re-examined once, provided it is done within one calendar year of the initial examination.
After a candidate has taken 6 credits of 700, the candidate must register for 1 credit of 700 in subsequent semesters and in the semester of graduation.
One bound copy of the approved thesis shall go on file in the department office and must be submitted to the department office at the same time the final thesis is deposited with Graduate Division.
The Plan B degree program provides students with a non-thesis opportunity for graduate research and study in Asian or Polynesian religions. Plan B is designed for students who wish to articulate the results of their research in innovative ways using various available technologies. In place of a thesis, the culminating requirement is a Plan B Project, an original research project as described below. 30 credits are required.
Master’s Plan B Procedures
- Preliminary conference with the graduate chair for the purpose of determining an advisor, proposed courses to fulfill the requirements, and the foreign language for the degree.
- Candidacy for Plan B students requires a memo from the graduate chair indicating that 12 graduate credits, including REL 600, have been taken with a GPA of 3.0 or better and that the student has prepared a preliminary proposal and secured the support of two graduate faculty members from the Department of Religion to serve on their committee. Committee members will have the responsibility of approving, supervising, and evaluating the project as completed in REL 688 (Plan B Research).
- Completion of a research project demonstrating a critical understanding of religion in a particular area of Asia or the Pacific or of a topic within the overall region. The project should reveal original insights into selected religious phenomena or area of concentration. Students will be expected to present the results of their research in innovative ways that utilize the arts, various media, or developing technologies, and thereby show their relevance to scholarly discourse. Research projects will be presented in a public forum during the student’s final semester.
Required courses (6 credits)
- REL 600 History and Theory of the Study of Religion (3)
- REL 688 Plan B Research
Area requirements (9 credits)
Students must take at least three 600 level courses in a particular region of Asian or in Polynesian religions.
Electives (15 credits)
Electives consist of any religion course (400 level and above, excluding 499), other than those that fulfill program and area requirements. Two complementary graduate courses (3 credits each) from other disciplines may be accepted at the discretion of the advisor and graduate chair. No more than two 400-level courses may be used to satisfy this requirement.
To achieve mastery of a language at the second-year level, students are required to complete two years of a language appropriate to their area of specialization (e.g., Chinese, Hawaiian, Hindi, Japanese, Sanskrit, Samoan, Tahitian, or another Asian or Polynesian language approved by the area advisor) with a minimum B-minus grade in the fourth semester of class.
This language requirement will be waived for students demonstrating language proficiency by an equivalency exam. These exams will be set by the student’s advisor and assessed by two faculty readers (one from the religion department and one from the department in which the language is taught). Language courses will not count toward the 30 credits required for an MA in religion.