MA in Religious Studies



What will I learn?

The MA Religious Studies at Leiden University is designed to equip students with the tools and knowledge required for studying, interpreting, and analysing religion as a diverse (human) phenomenon. With its world-class scholars and access to exceptional research collections, the programme offers the opportunity to explore a broad spectrum of religions and their manifestations from a comparative, multidisciplinary perspective.

Why study Religious Studies?

Religion permeates our world and remains highly influential across all domains of human society, including politics, culture, and economics. Religion also plays a critical role in everyday life as it provides meaning, motivation, and social support for billions of people. Despite trends of secularisation in some areas, on a global level religious identification is actually growing and a majority of people around the world continue to be affiliated with religious organisations and communities. It is not a stretch to claim that no matter the region, the issue, or the historical period, knowledge of religion is essential for understanding the world.

Why study Religious Studies at Leiden University?

This one-year MA programme offers you the best of Leiden University, from outstanding and dedicated lecturers to its library’s famous collections. The programme relies heavily on the research of staff members who bring together expertise in specific religions with a comparative approach that draws on a variety of humanistic and social scientific disciplines. Our generalist approach towards the study of religion focuses on skills, tools, methods, and theories, with students being taught how to collect data using a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methods and how to analyse and apply concepts and theories to real-world empirical findings. By the end of the programme, you will be equipped with everything needed to critically analyse complex situations around the globe and tackle problems in society at large.

We also offer a two-year variant of our programme, called MA Religie en Levensbeschouwing (MA Religion and Worldview). This variant is specifically targeted at the educational sector and is taught in both English and Dutch.

Career prospects

Create a world of opportunities with a master's degree from Leiden University.

Our graduates have pursued successful careers in research and in the public, private and non-profit sectors as editors, journalists, policy advisors, counsellors or teachers of religion or philosophy.

Positions of our graduates include

  • Teacher of Religion and Society at a secondary school
  • PhD candidate at an international university
  • Political Party Officer
  • Consultant at McKinsey
  • Member of Staff at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment
  • Traineeship Municipality The Hague
  • Policy officer at a Christian NGO

Which department am I in?

Faculty of Humanities

Study options

Full Time (1 Year)

Tuition fees
€17,716.00 (15,65,433) per year
Non-EEA/non-Swiss/non-Surinam: Full-time & Part-time: €18800. Part-time for EU/EEA/Surinam applicants: €2168.
Application deadline

Expected April 2024

More details

Start date

Expected September 2024


Leiden University

Rapenburg 70,



2311, Netherlands

Entry requirements

For students from United States

Applicants need a BA or BSc degree (or equivalent) to be admitted to any of Leiden University’s master’s programmes. English-language proficiency: IELTS - 6.0; Toefl (internet based): 80 (component score: 20); Cambridge C2 Proficiency (CPE), or C1 Advanced (CAE): Cambridge component score of 169.

For international students

  • A bachelor’s degree from a Dutch research university (in the specialisation): Bachelor programme Religious Studies
  • A bachelor’s degree in the field of the specialisation of the relevant programme(s)Theology or Islamic Studies provided the student has at least 30 EC from the relevant field, distributed over the field or knowledge of the discipline Religious Studies .
  • Completed the pre-Master's / bridging programme.

The Faculty Board may, on request, grant admission to applicants who can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Faculty Board that they possess a level of knowledge, understanding and skills equal to that of holders of a bachelor’s degree from a Dutch research university in Religious Studies.

The bachelor’s degree should be in the field of humanities or social sciences.

You should have:

  • knowledge in the field of religious studies and history; and
  • knowledge of the study of Christianity, Islam and/or Judaism; and
  • knowledge of methodologies of either social sciences or history; and
  • the ability to reflect on current debates and developments regarding religion; and
  • the ability to formulate problems and the skill to select the correct methodological approach as well as literature/data to analyse these problems.

If you have a Bachelor’s degree from a Dutch research university in Humanities or Social Sciences, and have successfully completed the minor ‘Religion in a changing World’, you are considered to have fulfilled these requirements.

In order to successfully participate in this programme, you must be proficient in English. The following requirements apply:

  • IELTS: 7.0 (for the 'writing' and 'reading' components a minimum score of 7.0 is required)
  • TOEFL: 100 (for the 'writing' and 'reading' components a minimum score of 25 is required)
  • Cambridge C1 or C2: 185

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.


Get in touch