Faculty of Theology

Study programs

Master's in Religious Studies

The Faculty of Theology at the University of Bern is the first faculty in the German-speaking world to offer a Master program in Religious Studies.The program has existed since 2005. Today's multicultural societies increasingly need to take into account different religious identities. Well founded and reflective knowledge of one's own religious tradition and the traditions of other religions is extremely important here. Experts familiar with different traditions are therefore very much in demand.

Basic information
Degree: Master of Arts in Religious Studies, Universität Bern
Number of credits: 120 ECTS credits
Degree programs:
  • Major Religious Studies/Interreligiöse Studien 90 ECTS credits

 

Offer for other degree programs:

  •  Minor Interreligious Studies/Interreligiöse Studien 30 ECTS credits
Combination possibilities: several
Duration: 4 semesters
Language: German
Beginning of studies: Fall or spring semester

The program has several components. Christianity is studied in all of its historical forms down to the present day. Students attend courses on Christianity in the Faculty of Theology.

Courses that address other major religious traditions (Judaism, Islam, religions of India, Buddhism) are offered in part in cooperation with other institutes (Institute for the Science of Religion, Institute for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies).

Students in the Master program also learn to develop their own views of religious diversity.

The program leading to the title of Master of Arts in Religious Studies takes. Students who study this major also take a minor at another faculty. The Master's degree is a requirement for obtaining a Secondary Level II Teaching Diploma.

The following subject fields are covered (the numbers refer to ECTS credits):

 

Subject field 1: Christianity (21):

  • Bibel (18 + 3)
  •  History of Christianity, Christian theology and practice (15 + 6)
  • Judaism (18 + 3)

Subject field 2: Islam, religions of India and Buddhism (9):

  • Islam (3-6)
  • Religions of India and Buddhism (3-6)
Subject field 3: Inter-religious and intercultural topics, questions related to the theory of religion (15)
Subject field 4: Master thesis (30)
Subject field 5: Electives (15) 

«'Religion' is no longer = Christianity or = Judaism; many people in our Western industrialized world claim to have their own religions. If one understands religion as re-ligare ("reconnect"), than it can be expected to be found where mechanisms that connect people to themselves are at work (identity). However, such mechanisms also connect people to one another (through relationships and groups).
While studying in the BA and MA programs in Religious Studies, I acquired extensive knowledge of the major religious traditions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism). I also learned how to view religion as a multifaceted phenomenon that plays a role in processes of individualization, especially in today's globally networked world. In other words, it's not simply something locked in confining institutions. Such a multifaceted view of 'religion' will most definitely be a big help to me in my career as a secondary school teacher.»

Jonas Widmer (MA Religious Studies)

«Globalization is impacting religion as well. Religions have moved closer together and become intertwined, so to speak, not least due to patterns of global migration. Their attempt to convey meaning, as well as the potential for conflict they harbor, have now come closer to a world in the West that is no longer rooted in a religious tradition but which nevertheless persistently searches for guidance and meaning, sometimes very uncritically as well. That's reason enough to become more familiar with religions, systematically analyze them and learn to examine their claims in an objective manner. The program in Religious Studies offers an opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to responsibly shape a society that has become very pluralistic.»

Prof. Benz H.R. Schär, former Director of the Center for Migration at the Evangelical Reformed Church of the Canton Bern-Jura-Solothurn, and Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Theology at the University of Bern

«The Talmud describes how every drop of rain follows a unique path that is different from that of any other drop of rain. The Talmud concludes from this that every individual may and should follow their own unique path. I think this applies to all religions. The resulting differences between people are a given for us as Jews and these differences are something that should be cultivated. Such discussions make the Talmud a reservoir of diversity. Inter-religious dialog offers a good opportunity for a peaceful exchange of ideas, especially with regard to the education of children and young people. The Jewish community is open to inter-religious discussion. Our efforts here focus on eliminating prejudices and the fear of contact. That's because mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence is very important to us.»

David Polnauer, Rabbi of the Jewish Community Bern

The Master's degree program in Religious Studies consists of a major with 90 ECTS credits and a minor with 30 ECTS credits.

The major can be combined with any minor subject taught in a sufficient scope at the University of Bern, with the exception of Religious Studies.

Structure
Major ECTS
Minor ECTS
90 30 
Minors you may choose

Individual academic requirements

The following academic qualifications are required for admission to the master’s degree program in Religious Studies (major):

a)

Bachelor's degree from a Swiss university with a major in Religious Studies. Additional knowledge and skills not acquired during the completed bachelor’s degree program may be required to complete the master's degree. *
b) Bachelor's degree from a recognized university with a major or mono in a related field (theology). Additional attainments of up to 60 ECTS credits may be required. *
c) Bachelor's degree from a university with a major in a different branch of studies, provided that the master's degree can be successfully completed with an additional maximum 60 ECTS credits. *
* Additional attainments can either be admission requirements which must be fulfilled in order to complete the master's degree program or admission requirements which must be fulfilled before admission to the master's degree program. The ECTS credits will be listed separately in the diploma supplement as extracurricular attainments.

Please consult the admission requirements for the minor as presented in the plan of studies.

The bachelor's degree may not be more than 15 years old. Exceptions are possible where justified. 

 
For questions regarding application and admission, please contact the Admissions Office.

Current UniBE students

Apply for a change to the M A in Religious Studies, Universität Bern, by self-service as part of the re-registration for the next semester.
Renewal of semester registration → Self-service
Recognition of academic achievements
Procedure and timing of the renewal of semester registration
   

Application with a Swiss degree

Online application
Assessment
Steps from application to registration
 

Application with an international degree

Online application
CHECKLIST - Documents for your application / Important information
Steps from application to registration

 
For questions regarding application and admission, please contact the Admissions Office.

Doctoral studies

The Faculty of Theology offers students the possibility to contribute to further research in their field with a dissertation.

Career possibilities

Like any course of study in the humanities, the program offered here does not prepare students for a specific career but instead teaches them methods and skills that can be applied in a variety of fields (e.g. research, media, education, diplomacy, culture, dialog between religions).

Find out more