MA in East Asian Studies


Program Description

How can we interpret the influence of religion on local and global developments? What are the relationships between religion and other cultural domains such as science, philosophy, and politics?

In this Research Master's Program, you will study how religion is embedded in present-day and in historical-cultural contexts. You will explore the impact of local and global socio-economic and political developments on religion, and how religion contributes to such developments. A staff member whose research interests in religion matches your best will act as your supervisor throughout the program.

You will acquire an overview of central debates in the study of religion and develop key research skills by following three compulsory core modules. We offer four specialization routes within which you can develop your individual research profile and skills. Your individual, tailor-made route within the program consists of a combination of optional modules from one of the one-year master specializations, research traineeships, (individual) tutorials and writing a thesis and a research proposal. The modules, traineeships, and tutorials are designed to equip you with in-depth knowledge of specialized subjects, together with subject-specific methodological skills. The final specialization occurs in the Research Master's thesis, which forms the basis of a Ph.D. thesis proposal or an application for research funding.

Why study this program in Groningen?

  • Best Research Master's program in Theology and Religious Studies in The Netherlands;
  • Taught by leading experts with a world-class reputation;
  • Small classes with intensive supervision;
  • Students can follow their own research interests;
  • Focus on the dynamic relationships between religion, culture, and society.


Year 1

In the first year the program consists of the two compulsory core modules (20 EC), a compulsory course unit on generic academic skills (5 ECTS), a course unit on field-specific research skills (5 ECTS), three specialization modules (15 EC), a tailor-made (individual) tutorial (5 EC); a research traineeship (5 EC), and a specialization elective (extra module, tutorial or research traineeship) (5 EC).


  • Theories of Religion and Culture (10 EC)
  • Specialization modules (15 EC, optional)
  • Field-specific research skills (5 EC, optional)
  • Philosophy of Science in the Study of Religion and Culture (10 EC)
  • Elective (5 EC, optional)
  • Generic academic skills (5 EC)
  • Research Trainee-ship (5 EC)
  • Tutorial (5 EC, optional)

Year 2

In the first semester of the second year, you preferably go abroad to take extra courses, tutorials and research traineeships (30 ECTS). Alternatively, you do your specialization course units, tutorials and research traineeships in the Netherlands. The program will be completed with a master's thesis (25 EC) and a research proposal (5 EC).

N.B.: Presentational skills, and skills to write a research proposal are trained throughout the two years program in a series of workshops and in monthly meetings with Ph.D. members of the Graduate School.


  • Elective (5 EC, optional)
  • Research Traineeships (15 EC)
  • Specialization Module (5 EC, optional)
  • Tutorial (5 EC)
  • Thesis (25 EC)
  • Writing Research Proposal (5 EC)

Study load

28 hours of class and self-study per week on average.


Two core modules (20 EC); research classes, tutorials, and trainee-ships in all fields of Theology and Religious Studies (40 EC); Thesis/Research Proposal (25/5 EC), and six optional modules (30 EC) from our Master's programmes in Religion, Conflict and Globalization; Religion and Cultural Heritage; Religion and Pluralism, Ancient & Modern; Religion, Health and Wellbeing.

Study abroad

  • Study abroad is recommended
  • For an average of 20 weeks
  • Maximum of 30 EC

We have various exchange contracts with universities both inside and outside Europe, enabling students to follow part of their degree program at a foreign university.

Entry requirements

Admission requirements

Dutch or international diploma

Specific requirements More information
Assessment interview After selection based on the motivation letter, the grade list and other information, an interview with the student is part of the procedure.
Grade average On average, grades for Bachelor-2 and Bachelor-3 courses should be 7.5 or higher (on a scale of 1 to 10). The quality of the bachelor's (or master's) thesis is very important.
Grade list A grade list of the marks of your bachelor's degree program with an explanation of the followed courses. The bachelor's program must have been completed at a pace and with results that warrant the expectation of successful completion of the Research Master's program in two years.
Language test Sufficient knowledge of English: a TOEFL score of at least 600 (paper), 250 (computer) or 100 (internet), or a minimum score of 7.0 in IELTS (International English Language Testing System; overall; 6.5. on parts) is required. Native speakers of the English language, as well as Dutch applicants with a VWO certificate, are exempt from this requirement.
Previous education

Bachelor's degree in Theology, Religious Studies, Arts (e.g. International Organizations, Middle Eastern Studies, Philosophy), Political Sciences or Social Sciences (e.g. Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology). Depending on your former study and courses a reading package will be provided. We assume that you are aware of the concepts and theoretical discussions outlined in this literature.

Reference letter

Two letters of recommendation by professors who are well acquainted with your work as a student; these letters may be sent to us separately before March 1 (non-EU) and April 1 (EU).

Written request

A letter of motivation to the admissions board, outlining your interest in the program, including your motivation and expectations (max. 1 page), accompanied with:

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Writing sample of an academic paper, preferably your Bachelor's (or Master's) Thesis
  • Proposal for a study plan

Language requirements

Exam Minimum score
IELTS overall band 7
IELTS listening 6.5
IELTS reading 6.5
IELTS writing 6.5
IELTS speaking 6.5
TOEFL paper-based 600
TOEFL computer-based 250
TOEFL internet-based 100

Registration procedure

International students and Dutch students with non-Dutch qualifications are not automatically admitted to a Master's degree program at the University of Groningen. The full registration procedure will take longer than for Dutch students with regular Dutch qualifications and consists of three steps: application, admission, and registration.

Application deadlines

Type of student Deadline Start course
Dutch students

01 November 2020

01 June 2021

01 November 2021

01 February 2021

01 September 2021

01 February 2022

EU/EEA students

15 October 2020

01 June 2021

15 October 2021

01 February 2021

01 September 2021

01 February 2022

non-EU/EEA students

15 October 2020

01 June 2021

15 October 2021

01 February 2021

01 September 2021

01 February 2022

Tuition fees

Nationality Year Fee Program form
EU/EEA 2020-2021 € 2143 full-time
non-EU/EEA 2020-2021 € 13500 full-time

Job prospects

A degree in Theology and Religious Studies (research) provides a perfect background for:

  • Admission to the Ph.D. programs at national and international institutes and universities;
  • Positions outside academia for which academic research skills are required;
  • Positions as a civil servant, advisor or policymaker with local and national government;
  • Teaching positions.

Job examples

  • Ph.D. position
  • Independent scholar
  • Secondary education teacher
  • The civil servant or policy advisor at national or local government
  • Position in publishing
Last updated Jun 2020

About the School

The University of Groningen has a rich academic tradition dating back to 1614. From this tradition arose the first female student and the first female lecturer in the Netherlands, the first Dutch astr ... Read More

The University of Groningen has a rich academic tradition dating back to 1614. From this tradition arose the first female student and the first female lecturer in the Netherlands, the first Dutch astronaut and the first president of the European Central Bank. Geographically, the University is rooted in the Northern part of the Netherlands, a region very close to its heart. Read less
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