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Courses and Degree Programs

Students in Art and Religion focus on the theological, cultural, and spiritual meanings expressed by, and experienced through, visual, plastic, performative, liturgical, and ritual arts across local and global religious contexts. Interdisciplinary methodologies from aesthetics, semiotics, art history, iconography, literature and literary theory, material culture studies, religious studies, and related disciplines serve as the analytical and interpretive frameworks for research, teaching, and creative art praxis. The concentration aims to nurture the aesthetic, moral, spiritual, and creative imagination. It prepares graduates to engage the world through a multicultural and multifaith lens, and to communicate their knowledge in both theoretical and applied contexts.  

The Arts and Religion academic concentration falls within the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies in Religion. Students and faculty join with colleagues from a wide range of areas of study for departmental colloquia, events, and other learning opportunities. 

Arts Courses

Fall 2021

Register online in the SONIS portal:

Critical Studies in Church Music (3) Instructed by Jamie Apgar 

Marian Art (3 units) Instructed by Dr. Kathryn Barush 

Composing Sacred Spaces (3 units) Instructed by Dr. Kathryn Barush

More than Words: Preaching Through Art (1.5 units) Instructed by Dr. Sharon Jacobs 

Honoring the Light Within: Writing about people ethically and effectively (1.5 units) Instructed by Dr. Marilyn MacEntyre

Ritual Craft as Transformative (3 units) Instructed by Taya Shere

Sound as Sacred Presence (3 units) Instructed by Newhall Fellow Emily Pothast, under supervision of Dr. Kathryn Barush

The Genesis of Buddhist Art (3 units) Instructed by Dr. Dessi Vendova

Conversion and Literature (3 units) Instructed by Dr. Devin Zuber


Other Art-related Courses

Mariology in Dialogue (3 units) Instructed by Dr. Thomas Cattoi

Certificate in the Arts & Religion

The Certificate in the Arts & Religion is designed for community members with an interest in the arts, including recent graduates of area universities, museum docents and volunteers, religious school teachers, religious leaders, retirees, musicians, artists, art therapists, and others. Participants take courses in a full array of arts offerings, encompassing many art forms -- visual art, music, theater, dance, film, and more. 

The Certificate is a 12-credit, 4 course program with the requirement that students take courses in two or more defined art areas (visual art, theory/material culture/museum studies, art practice, literature, theater/film, music/dance). Students would be permitted to select one course from a partner institution through the cross-registration process. The Center for the Arts & Religion (CARe) oversees this stand-alone Certificate program. 

Financial aid is not be available for the Certificate program. All earned credits would, however, be applicable to advancement toward an MA or other degree. Learn more about the certificate program.

MA Program

Students in the GTU’s MA program may elect Art and Religion as their area of concentration, with the option of affiliating with the Center for the Arts & Religion (CARe). MA program requirements include 14 courses, proficiency in one modern research language other than English, and a MA thesis. Among the required courses are at least four in the area of the Arts and Religion, including two at the 4000 level or above. The thesis must focus on a topic approved by the student’s faculty advisor, an Art and Religion Core Doctoral Faculty member. Learn more

Doctoral Program

Applicants with potential projects that lie at the intersection of art and religion are encouraged to apply, particularly if their research is aligned with current Art and Religion Core Doctoral Faculty expertise. Present faculty teaching and scholarship foci include: the art historical study of ritual objects; pilgrimage studies; ecocriticism and ecocritical art history; spirituality and esotericism in modern and contemporary art; religion, literature, and literary theory; as well as the art and literature associated with Romanticism and the long nineteenth century, Modernism, and the American Transcendentalists. 

Admission to the doctoral program requires an MA in an allied field. Requirements include 48 units of coursework (generally, four semesters) and proficiency in two scholarly research languages. The dissertation, under the guidance of an Art and Religion Core Doctoral Faculty member, must represent original work in the field of the Arts and Religion. Learn more about the GTU’s PhD program.