Combined B.A./M.A. Degree in Religious Studies


Submatriculation toward the M.A. degree in Religious Studies is possible for outstanding majors who submit an acceptable proposal of study that is approved by both the Undergraduate and Graduate Chairs. The application process requires the submission of a research statement of 500-700 words that includes: 

  • An overview of the student’s research interests.
  • A tentative list of the eight credits students intend to pursue for the M.A. (The exact courses taken may change depending on availability.)
  • A proposed timeline to completion.
  • Students must also fill out and include the application for submatriculation form.

These materials should be sent directly to the Undergraduate and Graduate Chairs no later than April 30 of their junior year at Penn. The Chairs will review the proposal and determine its viability. Chairs may also request an interview with the applicant. Submatriculation into the BA/MA program is entirely at the discretion of the Undergraduate and Graduate Chairs.

If the student’s application for submatriculation is approved, they must then fill out the relevant online application at this link. Students should also examine the College’s policies on submatriculation. Students on financial aid should consult with a financial aid officer as part of determining whether this program will be compatible with their existing aid package. Please note that students should plan to pursue submatriculation on their own initiative, including scheduling coursework, filling out paperwork, and filing relevant forms.


  • A student applying for submatriculation must be a declared RELS major.
  • The minimum requirement for the M.A. degree is eight credits at the 5000-level or above. Of these eight, a maximum of four may be double-counted for the M.A. and the B.A.
  • A maximum of two 5000-level independent studies may be counted for the M.A.
  • A maximum of three 5000-level credits may be taken outside RELS.
  • To count as credit toward submatriculation, all classes taken must receive a minimum grade of B+.
  • Students must file for graduation from the MA program separately from filing for the BA program.

N.B.: This program of study is distinct from simple enrollment in one or more graduate courses, which undergraduates may do with the permission of the instructor in each case. It is also distinct from a terminal M.A. degree.

N.B. The online application for submatriculation is currently unavailable while Penn reworks its admissions system. Successful applicants for submatriculation will be put in touch with the relevant university officer who will process their registration directly.