School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Religious Studies



“The School of Religion’s one-year intensive master’s degree provided me with essential tools for my continued academic career. The program gave me a strong theoretical base with which to engage with current issues and trends in the academic study of religion and inspired my current Ph.D. research. The MA program at Queen’s offers an approach to the study of religion that is very student-focused, where student success is measured not only in terms of publications and conference presentations but also in terms of individual intellectual growth and development.”

Ian Cuthbertson, M.A.. 2009

Program Contact

Levanna Schonwandt
Graduate Assistant
School of Religion
Theological Hall
Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L3N6

Phone: 613.533.2109


Program Overview

Queen’s University’s School of Religion offers a theoretically challenging and internationally-acclaimed twelve-month M.A. program in Religious Studies. Students may pick varied courses through which they broaden and deepen undergraduate backgrounds. The program focuses on the relationship between religion and culture (ancient or contemporary). Our courses equip students with the tools to analyze and question issues of politics, culture, race, gender and science in the construction of religion. The program also places an emphasis on contemporary theories and methods in the study of religion. Developing excellent research and writing skills is one of our most important goals. These skills are further honed as students have the opportunity to write a research essay that focuses on a particular religious tradition or phenomenon.


Our program is small and selective, and gives students and faculty the opportunity to work closely together on research projects.

Career paths – employment opportunities

An M.A. in Religious Studies can lead to a variety of opportunities such as:

  • Admission to Doctoral work
  • Public policy research and analysis
  • International development work
  • A career in education
  • Journalism
  • Work in any setting which values an understanding of multi-culturalism and diversity

Graduates of our program have been accepted into Ph.D. programs at Queen’s University, University of Toronto, McGill University, University of British Columbia, York University, University of Waterloo, University of Ottawa, McMaster University and institutions in the USA and UK. Others have worked for private or public sector employers as journalists, public policy analysts, researchers and educators.

Degrees Offered/Method of Completion

Degrees Offered

M.A.:12 months

Method of Completion

Students take one core course and two elective courses in both the fall and winter terms, then write a master’s essay over the summer.

Before graduating, students are required to give evidence of a reading knowledge of at least one language, in addition to English, selected from the languages of modern scholarship and/or necessary source languages.

Fields of study and Supervisors

Students are assigned a supervisor once they have been accepted into the program.

Dr. Amarnath Amarasingam, Assistant Professor of Religion and Social Justice

Research Focus: Terrorism and political violence; Sociology of religion; religion and violence; social movements; religion and politics in the Middle East; South Asia/Sri Lanka; Religion and the public sphere; Diaspora politics and activism; religion, ethnicity, and youth identity; media/social media/online communities; atheism and non-religion; hate movements and the far-right.

Dr. Richard S. Ascough, Professor of Christian Origins

Research Focus: Prof. Ascough’s research focuses on the history of early Christianity and Greco-Roman religious culture with particular attention to various types of associations. He is currently researching the dynamics of religious interaction and community development in small religious associations in the Greco-Roman world. His project is part of a larger movement that is exploring modern theories of Christian origins. He regularly teaches courses on religion in Greek and Roman antiquity, with particular emphasis on the first two centuries of the development of what will come to be called “Christianity.” Not wanting to remain solely in antiquity, he also teaches courses on religion and film and religion and business ethics. He has been honoured for his innovation as an educator through many teaching awards, most recently having been selected for a 3M National Teaching Fellowship (2018), “Canada’s most prestigious recognition of excellence in educational leadership and teaching at the university and college level” (

Dr. Dustin N. Atlas, Director of Jewish Studies and Assistant Professor of Contemporary Jewish Religion and Globalized Identities

Research Focus: Judaism; Critical Theory; Mysticism and Philosophy; Religion and Identity; Religion and Ecology; Religion and Enlightenment; Aesthetics; Anxiety; Animals.

Dr. Forough Jahanbakhsh, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies

Research Focus: Islam, democracy and modernity

Ms. Danielle Lagrone, Continuing Adjunct Professor of Religion

Research Focus: Her scholarly interests include critical theory of religion, gender, and Buddhism and her publications include co-editing a four-volume collection of essays on women and religion (Routledge 2009). 

Dr. Jorge Legoas P., Assistant Professor in Indigenous Knowledges

Research Focus: Anthropology of nature. Indigenous knowledges and practices. Rationality, performance and ritualization. Traditional agriculture and land. Indigenous governance of the environment. Sustainability and postcolonial development. Indigenous citizenship and cosmopolitics of the State. Ethnography, discourse analysis, STS, Actor-Network Theory.

Dr. Sharday C. Mosurinjohn, Assistant Professor of Religion and Culture

Research Focus: Dr. Mosurinjohn studies the discursive construction of spirituality and religion as well as concepts of nonreligion and secularity. Specific interests include the study of "new religious movements" (NRMs), ritual, and religion and/as media. Her broad interest in the material turn touches on contexts of contemporary (especially conceptual) art; museums; everyday aesthetics; digital contexts (eg. social media; surveillance cultures), and affect. Her major line of research continues to be about boredom and spirituality—taking the modern concept of boredom as a spiritual crisis as a heuristic through the late modern context of choice and information overload.

She supervises RELS MA and Cultural Studies PhD students in these and related areas.

Dr. Aditi Sen, Continuing Adjunct Professor of South Asian Studies

Research Focus: South Asian religion, sexuality, gender and food history. My recent research has been in the field of history of horror in South Asian cinema and popular culture. Drawing from a criminal case from 1892 in Bombay, my current project is on forensics in colonial India and the role it played in determining criminal cases.

Dr. Tracy J. Trothen, Professor of Ethics

Research Focus: Dr. Trothen is an ethicist who is interested in biohacking, artificial intelligence, sport, moral and spiritual distress, and religion. Jointly appointed to the School of Religion and the School of Rehabilitation Therapy, her areas of research and teaching include biomedical and social ethics, Christianity, spiritual health, aging, human enhancement technologies, and sport. Professor Trothen has published eight books including the recent Spirituality, Sport, and Doping: More than Just a Game (2018). Her other books include Winning the Race? Religion, Hope, and Reshaping the Sport Enhancement Debate (2015), and the co-edited anthology Religion and Human Enhancement: Death, Values, and Morality (2017). She is working on a textbook with Dr. Calvin Mercer introducing the intersection of biohacking, artificial intelligence, and religion to university students. She loves teaching about these topics.

Dr. M. Shobhana Xavier,  Assistant Professor of Religion and Diaspora

Research Focus: Dr. Xavier works on contemporary global Islam and Sufism, with particular regional interests in North America (United States and Canada) and South Asia
(Sri Lanka). She broadly examines how Sufism transforms and/or maintains continuity as it is transmitted to new regions, such as through migration, diaspora, literature, and popular culture (i.e., Rumi).
In doing so, she engages sacred spaces (Sufi shrines), rituals, practices, and memory, in addition to gender dynamics. 

Dr. Pamela Dickey Young, Professor of Religion in Contemporary North America

Research Focus: Dr. Young's research focuses on Christianity and the Social Construction of Sexuality.

Funding, Academic Prerequisites & Deadline

Funding Information

Basic Funding Package: $13,800 (minimum)

Our funding package includes internal and external awards and teaching and research assistantships. Many students also qualify for Ontario Graduate Scholarships and Canada Graduate Scholarships and SSHRC awards.

Entering graduate students who win federal government tri-council awards are automatically provided a $5,000 top up award by Queen’s.

Academic Prerequisites

We require a GPA equivalent to “B+” on the Queen’s scale in a four-year Honours Bachelors degree program in Religious Studies, or equivalent (e.g. history, anthropology, etc.), awarded by a recognized university, with sufficient background in the study of religion.

We consider all courses taken over 4 years.

Other Requirements

We ask all applicants to send a writing sample (an essay you have already written) directly to the department, and answer a couple of questions on background preparation (on application).

Test Requirements

For international students, if required, a TOEFL total score of at least 600 (paperbased) or TOEFL iBT minimum scores of: writing (24/30); speaking (22/30); reading (22/30); listening (20/30), for a total of 88/120. Applicants must have the minimum score in each test as well as the minimum overall score.

Key Dates and Deadlines

Application Deadline: February 1st.

Notification of Acceptance: March 31st

Learning Outcomes

Grad Maps

View the Grad Maps for this department and all graduate degrees on the Career Services website


Nathan TownendNathan Townend
Religious Studies
Is religion something only humans do?