Student Testimonials

“The program allowed me to better understand Islam, transforming my conception of what Islam ‘is’ and ‘is not’ through the manifestations and translations among the many peoples, cultures and languages of India. Most crucially, it gave me the tools to engage with religion and religious phenomena.”
—Reza H.

“One of the benefits of the program is its interdisciplinary character. The requirements provide you with a solid basis in traditional Islamic Studies, but other classes are incredibly diverse. This was a great way to gain a larger understanding of Islam in relation to other faiths.”
—Carolina M.

“The program granted me freedom to pursue academic interests, while core courses provided a foundation for engagement with debates in the broader fields of Islamic Studies. Thus, I feel prepared for a future in academia and fully in control of my education.”
—Raihan A.

Master of Arts in Islamic Studies

GW Department of Religion

Applications are due April 1, 2020, for fall 2020 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.

One of the unique features of our program since its inception has been the diversity of its students. This year, we continued to attract applicants from diverse regions and countries of the world. For the academic year 2020-2021, we admitted students from Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Canada, Iran, and the United States who will be joining us soon.

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.


Qualified applicants who intend to pursue the concentration in Shi'ism may be eligible for fellowships from the Imam Mahdi Association of Marjaeya (I.M.A.M.) of North America. These fellowships are not sponsored, awarded, or managed by the university.

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.


In Islamic Studies, a World of Students Share Insights

The Religion Department’s Islamic Studies program is attracting a diversity of students from around the globe—including a host of young people from Muslim nations.

New MA in Islam Bridges Gaps

Something rather special, even symbolic, happened at GW in 2012 when Religion Department faculty members Robert Eisen and Mohammad Faghfoory collaborated together to create a new master’s degree program  in Islamic Studies.

A Question of Faith

In a video conversation with Dean Ben Vinson, Professor Robert Eisen explores religion’s contrasting faces. How can faith instill caring and compassion towards others but also foment hatred and violence?

Meet the Chair

Irene Oh is Associate Professor of Religion and former director of the Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution Program at The George Washingt

Admissions Information
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