Master of Arts in Islamic Studies

GW Department of Religion

Applications are due April 1, 2018, for fall 2018 enrollment!

Bridging the Modern With the Ancient

The MA degree in Islamic Studies offers an insider’s perspective of Islamic tradition as a religion, a civilization, a culture and a political force. Unlike other Islam programs, the degree incorporates a historical component, whether focusing on classical texts or modern Islam.

The curriculum is constructed with this dual focus in mind: Students are immersed in core religion courses to provide a grounding in the history of Islam, but they also are exposed to courses in history, political science and international affairs to gain insight into current politics, society and cultures of the Islamic world.

Exploring All Facets of Islam, Sunni and Shi’ite

The division between Sunnis and Shi’ites lies at the root of much of the strife in the Islamic world today. Our program uniquely features not only an education in Sunni Islam, but Shi’ite Islam as well. A comprehensive study must include both major branches of Islamic tradition for a full understanding of current issues in the world of Islam, and what its future holds.

The GW Advantage

Located in the heart of D.C., GW offers students unparalleled access to:

  • U.S. government agencies, think-tanks, NGOs, the Library of Congress, national American-Muslim organizations and the large Muslim community residing and working in the greater Washington area
  • Top faculty of scholars and guest lecturers who include noted diplomats and spiritual leaders
  • Opportunities to move beyond a master’s and into a PhD to provide further study of Islam and the Islamic world
  • Career advancement opportunities to employees of government and international agencies whose work involves the Islamic world and who wish to deepen their understanding of the languages and cultures within it


Graduates of GWU's Islamic Studies program have been accepted to PhD programs from such top universities as Princeton, Emory, Harvard Divinity School, the University of Pennsylvania, Kings College London, and the University of Virginia.