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Subject area:    Religious Studies/ Interfaith Studies Bachelor, Master, Doctorate

                             (keywords: comparative religion,  spirituality, theology)


Awarding body:            Calamus International University.  For further details of CIU please see the about page.


Status of course:          The degrees are non-UK qualifications. For status of CIU please see the status page.  CIU is accredited by the International Association for Distance Learning.  


Entry requirements:       Bachelor - by accelerated entry - approx. 50% credit from previous studies and/or experience needed for entry.

                                    Master -  a suitable bachelor's degree or professional qualifications are normally required.
                                    Doctorate -  a Bachelor's degree (and preferably a Master's) plus professional qualifications are normally required.


Method of study:            Distance learning (taught course units are textbook-based) Textbooks are not included in tuition fees. 


Start date:                        Any time of year (subject to availability)


Duration:                         The standard period of registration for an accelerated (advanced-entry) Bachelor's degree, a Master's degree or a Doctorate is a maximum of 18 months, after which registration lapses unless continuing registration fees are paid.  This plan ensures that students can (a) complete as soon as academic requirements are fulfilled and (b) do not have to pay for long compulsory registration periods of several years before the final requirements can be met.  In some cases, where the student needs to meet additional requirements, the agreed initial registration period will be up to 24 months.




This brochure should be read together with the Calamus general prospectus (catalogue) and Course Unit List.  Calamus International University degrees are not UK degrees and do not have government accreditation.  


Religious Studies / Interfaith Studies


We offer a BA in Religious Studies by distance learning validated/awarded by Calamus International University.  Enrolment at any time of year is possible.  The average student will take approx. 18 months to complete the BA degree.

The BA degree is offered on an accelerated basis according to which the student must have at least 50% general education credit towards a Bachelor’s degree. Credit will be assessed from a wide range of previous qualifications in any field including certificates, diplomas, vocational courses, in-house or in-service training, skilled or professional work experience, volunteer services, etc.  Credit is also possible for significant experiences with spiritual groups or spiritual practice, e.g. meditation, stay at an ashram or religious college, or other structured group experiences, solitary practice or learning, for which you do not get formal qualifications, and also for formal religious training. You may be required to write an essay on your experiences in order to gain credit.  General credit built up this way is added to tCIU course units taken in order to gain your degree. As long as the focus of your studies is related to religious studies (interpreted as the study of the group of subjects listed below) your major will be BA Religious Studies.

If you wish to know whether you have enough credit entitlement to enter the BA, please send your CV or resume, together with details of any relevant trainings/experience that might not be listed on your CV (you can simply add them to your CV if you wish).


 A M.Th. (Master of Theology) degree may be offered along similar lines.

We offer an MA in Religious Studies by distance learning validated/awarded by Calamus International University.  Enrolment at any time is possible.  The average student will take approx. 18 months to complete an MA degree.

Entrants should have a Bachelor’s degree and some interest in the fields of religion or spirituality. Direct entry to MA may be possible in exceptional circumstances, for example if you are an ordained minister from a recognised college, an experienced church leader or equivalent, or you have a qualification of a pastoral nature such as a recognised qualification in counselling or psychotherapy.


Most course units will require textbooks which you will need to purchase.

Please note that Calamus International University is not affiliated with or owned by any religious organisation, and is not a Christian institution. Our tutors, advisors and adjunct faculty members may follow a variety of paths or be primarily concerned with scholarly exploration of the phenomena of religion and spirituality.  If you are seeking a Bible-based Christian degree we suggest that you contact one of the many Christian distance learning schools in the USA, which will be able to cater for your needs more specifically. However, we do have some Christian clergy, pastors and lay students of various denominations amongst our students and graduates. 

There is no fixed syllabus as  an individualized syllabus will be negotiated with the student depending on his/her interests, which we will endeavour to cater for as far as possible.

At the moment there is a variety of units listed under Religious Studies in our course unit list, comprising the following key areas:

  • comparative religion,
  • history of religion/ religious ideas,
  • psychology of religion
  • psychology of belief and faith
  • interfaith studies (mostly Jewish-Christian themes such as looking at the origins of Christianity, Jewish views of Jesus)
  • intellectual, mythological and allegorical (non-fundamentalist) approaches to the Bible
  • and studies of special topics.

It is not necessary to take all of those key areas but you will normally be required to take some of them.

Units may also be chosen from fields such as: 

  • Contemporary Spirituality
  • Counselling psychology / counselling skills
  • Hypnotherapy (specifically its spiritual and transpersonal applications and religious attitudes towards Hypnotherapy)
  • Transpersonal psychology
  • Parapsychology
  • Metaphysics/ Esoteric Studies
  • Healing Studies
  • Holistic studies – philosophy of holism, integrative views of spirituality
  • Shamanistic studies
  • Regression and Reincarnation Studies
  • Coaching (especially spiritually-oriented coaching)
  • Personal development (many relevant topics available)
  • Management (e.g. spirituality in the workplace; values and ethics in business)
  • New Age Studies
  • Jungian studies/ Depth Psychology
  • Healing Studies
  • The art of blessing
  • Pagan spirituality

Certain fields are under-represented in our course unit lists but we are able to provide units for them by arrangements. In particular, we are able to offer units in the following fields for those with a special interest in them:

  • Jewish Studies (especially cultural and historical studies and reform/liberal thought)
  • Holocaust and Anti-Semitism Studies
  • Spiritualist Studies (including the history of Spiritualism in the USA)
  • New Religious Movements
  • Possession and Entity Release
  • Holistic Philosophy
  • Spiritual Aspects of Dowsing
  • Psychoanalytic Studies of Religion

There is also the possibility of a certain amount of independent study of topics that you research on your own and on which you write an approved “challenge essay” (normally 3,500 words).

A project is optional and the whole Bachelor's, Master's or taught Doctoral (e.g. D.R.S.) degree may be completed by taught units plus challenge essays (subject to approval).

If you are a member of a particular spiritual or religious church, sect or movement, or you follow a particular spiritual leader, and wish to concentrate on study relevant to that approach, it is essential to ask our advice, giving as much information as possible. A certain amount of independent study may be possible. We will need to ensure that your taught degree contains a variety of perspectives and that you are able to take a broad-minded, comparative and analytical view of the material you are studying.  This must include material outside the point of view of your own spiritual affiliation.  This degree is for people who wish to explore the field with an open mind, and is not for those who are convinced that their path is the only right or true one.  Essays and projects should not “preach”, and should not consist of arguments for converting the reader.

We do not discriminate against any path: however we must ensure that the student is academically suitable, taking into account learning skills, English language skills, previous education, and willingness to engage in critical and analytical study as well as to appreciate a wide variety of experiences and approaches to spirituality. This might involve the study of texts and viewpoints which are critical of one’s own path.

You are naturally welcome to hold your own beliefs and we honour your right to do so. However, academic thinking is separate from faith and it is possible to be faithful to your  beliefs and also to engage in open academic enquiry. Students who do so might discover that their studies can contribute to the understanding of their own beliefs and the affirmation of their own path, whilst respecting other approaches.

You are welcome to contact us to discuss your study possibilities in more detail.

Please email if you have any queries.


Calamus International University can provide a taught programme leading to the degrees of Th.D. (Doctor of theology), DRS (Doctor of Religious Studies) or DRE (Doctor of Religious Education) with an optional project, or consider a doctorate mainly by suitable project and independent study. The doctorate may need taught courses to be completed in addition to the dissertation if appropriate postgraduate transfer credit is not available, in order to attain the necessary credit for the award of the doctorate.   

A taught course route to a Doctorate can also be provided in a similar way to the Master’s degree (see above).  This taught course route is suitable for those who wish to study comparative religion or contemporary spirituality.

A Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) degree in Religious Studies is available by research and dissertation – unpublished book projects will also be considered for the Ph.D. The Ph.D. may need taught courses to be completed in addition to the dissertation if appropriate postgraduate transfer credit is not available, in order to attain the necessary credit for the award of the doctorate.  

Calamus International University can also award the honorary DD (Doctor of Divinity) degree to suitable candidates who should be ordained ministers, priests, pastors or chaplains (or their nearest equivalent) in any faith.  Independent spiritual counsellors are also welcome to apply for the D.D.  If you are interested in the D.D. but are not sure if you would qualify, please send your curriculum vitae or resume with details of your spiritual or religious affiliations and activities and we will contact you.

Other doctorates available are:

Ph.D. in Contemporary Spirituality by research and dissertation (or by manuscript in lieu of dissertation) - see Contemporary Spirituality brochure

D.R.S. (Doctor of Religious Studies) or Th.D. (Doctor of Theology) which work in the same way as an M.A. degree

Met.D. (Doctor of Metaphysics) if your interests are mainly metaphysical - see Metaphysics brochure

D.E.S. (Doctor of Esoteric Studies) similar to Met.D. - see Metaphysics brochure 

Ordinations and Ministerial Qualifications Are Not Available Through Calamus

Calamus International University and Calamus Extension College Ltd. do not offer any form of ordination: we are aware that some US universities do, but Calamus International University is not a US university or a church of any kind, and unconventional ordinations are uncommon outside the USA.  If you are seeking ordination you will need to enquire elsewhere, but it is possible that we could suggest a suitable religious organisation that may offer a path to interfaith or alternative ordination via distance learning.  If you are currently studying towards such ordination, or are already ordained as a minister (of any path except “instant” Internet or mail-order ordinations) we may be able to give credit for your ministerial studies.

You are welcome to contact us to discuss your study possibilities in more detail.

Please email if you have any queries.


Credit requirements


Bachelor - 120 credits including transfer credits.

Master -   45 credits including any transfer credits if the degree includes a thesis, or 48 credits without a thesis.

Doctorate (taught or research) - minimum 60 credits including any transfer credits if the degree includes a dissertation, or 70 credits without a dissertation.  The Ph.D. must include a dissertation.  A research doctorate will normally incorporate postgraduate transfer credits or credits from professional trainings.  If insufficient transfer credit is available then some CIU taught course modules may need to be taken in addition to the research programme and dissertation.   


One credit is nominally equivalent to one semester hour as in the typical American degree programme. The average course unit taken with CIU has a value of 3 credits or 3 semester hours.


Further advice


This brochure cannot cover everything, and further advice is available on enquiry. For best advice, please send us a copy of your curriculum vitae or resume with details of all relevant trainings you have done.

To see our prospectus and course unit list, and also to download an application form, please go to our downloads page

To see our tuition fees on-line please go to our tuition fees page

Calamus International University which awards the degrees is not a UK or US university - for status details click here.

If you have any queries please contact us, preferably by email on

Page updated 23 April 2011

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