MA in Humanities

Total units required for the MA: 30

Program Description

The Department of Humanities and Religious Studies offers an integrated approach to the study of world cultures from ancient times to the present. In our courses, students undertake interdisciplinary study of core ideas, ideals, and values. The Humanities – known by Renaissance thinkers as studia humanitatis (“studies of humanity”) -- explore such subjects as literature, history, philosophy, religion, the visual arts, music, drama, and film. Religious Studies focuses on beliefs and practices of the world’s religions in their historical and cultural contexts. Employing the methods and insights of disciplines such as history, anthropology, sociology, psychology, and philosophy, Religious Studies approaches its subject matter with empathy while avoiding assumptions or judgments about religious truth claims.

The MA in Humanities provides graduate-level engagement with humanistic approaches to world cultures.

Students in all five available programs acquire concrete skills in critical thinking, analysis, research, writing, and organization that lead to attractive careers throughout the job market. Many of our students prepare for careers in teaching at the elementary level (as part of a Liberal Studies major program) or secondary level (as part of a single subject credential program in English/Humanities). Others pursue postgraduate study in the Humanities, History, Theology, and related fields in preparation for careers in teaching at the community college and university levels or in library, museum, or curatorial work. Humanities majors are also well-prepared for careers in government and fields such as law and counseling, which require interaction with people from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Admission Requirements

Admission as a classified graduate student in Humanities requires:

  • a baccalaureate degree from an accredited four-year college or university (or equivalent preparation if the student has done undergraduate work outside the U.S.);
  • an undergraduate major in Humanities or in a closely related field (subject to approval by the Graduate Coordinator);
  • a minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 semester units attempted and a minimum 3.3 GPA in Humanities courses (or in major in a related field);

Students with deficiencies in Admission Requirements that can be removed by specified additional preparation may be considered for admission with conditionally classified graduate status. Any deficiencies will be noted on a response to the admission application.

Admission Procedures

Applicants should file the California State University, Sacramento Office of Graduate Studies application for admission to the University, and complete the supplemental application for the Department of Humanities and Religious Studies. Please check with the Office of Graduate Studies for current application deadlines.

All applicants must file the following with the Office of Graduate Studies, River Front Center 215, (916) 278-6470,

  • an online application for admission; and
  • one set of official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, other than California State University, Sacramento

Applicants must also file the following supplemental application:

  • statement of purpose of approximately 500 words (typed) in response to the following question: How does the Humanities master's program fit with your talents, interests, and aspirations?
  • two letters of recommendation. Letters should ideally come from college/university instructors, but if these are not available, any other credible source who can address qualifications will be acceptable (e.g., work supervisor or community leader);
  • academic writing sample of 3-5 pages, to be accompanied by a brief explanation regarding the context (e.g., the course and assignment) for which the writing was produced.

Minimum Units and Grade Requirement for the Degree

Units required for the MA: 30
Minimum Cumulative GPA:  3.0

Advancement to Candidacy

Each student must file an application for Advancement to Candidacy, indicating a proposed program of graduate study. This should be initiated by the student as soon as the student has:

  • removed any deficiencies in Admission Requirements;
  • completed at least 12 units of 200-level courses in the graduate program with a minimum 3.0 GPA;
  • achieved a passing grade on the Humanities M.A. Preliminary Exam; and
  • received a placement Score Number of 80 on the Writing Placement for Graduate Students (WPG) timed essay exam or received a grade of "B" or better in a Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI) course in their discipline within the first two semesters of course work at California State University, Sacramento or met one of the graduate GWAR equivalency standards.

Advancement to Candidacy forms are available on the Office of Graduate Studies website. The student fills out the form after planning a degree program in consultation with his/her HRS advisor. The completed form is then returned to the Graduate Coordinator and the Office of Graduate Studies for approval.

Program Requirements

Required Courses (9 Units)
HRS 200ACulture and Expression: Prehistory to the Middle Ages3
HRS 200BCulture and Expression: Renaissance to the Present 3
HRS 202Western Aesthetics: Traditions and Revision3
Electives (18 Units)
Select 18 units from the following: 118
A. Ancient Humanities
Ancient Greek Culture
Ancient Roman Culture
Evolving Concepts of God: Portrait of Deity in Monotheistic Religions
Religions of the Roman Empire
Early Christian Literature
The Gothic Spirit
B. Modern Humanities
Space and Time
Versions of the Self in Western Literature and the Arts
Historical Reflections on the American Dream
Ordinary America
Transcendence & Transgression in the Romantic Period
Modernism: Contingent Realities of Self and World
Seminar in HRS: The Body
Seminar in HRS: The Hero
C. Global Humanities
Gender and Religion in Cross-Cultural Perspective
Seminar in Religious Studies
Global Citizenship and Culture
Seminar in HRS: The Many Realities of Consciousness
Seminar in HRS: Death & Afterlife
Culminating Requirement (3 Units)
HRS 500Culminating Experience3
Total Units30