Online degree programs in Islamic or Muslim studies are quite rare, and those that are available are offered at the master's degree level. While some of these programs can be completed fully online, most are hybrid programs with a curriculum that blends classroom and distance learning coursework. In hybrid programs, about 50% of the coursework is on-campus. Applicants to these programs must have a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as Biblical languages.
Students should know that online Islamic studies programs are usually designed for religious leaders or scholars, often of Christian background, who would like to expand their knowledge of other religions. Students who would like to enroll in a broader, more holistic Islamic studies program may want to look into campus-based programs, which are usually offered at the graduate level. Students may also consider fully online bachelor's programs in related fields, such as interdisciplinary studies, or comparative cultural studies.
Master's Degree in Islamic Studies
Many Islamic studies programs are offered as a supplement to a broad, Christian-based theological training. Students in these programs typically study Islam to gain a more thorough knowledge of the Islamic faith to aid their future missions.
Information and Requirements
Setup for Islamic studies programs at the master's level varies from purely distance-based education to hybrid programs that require at least 50% of the courses to be taken on-campus. Students enrolling in this program should have a bachelor's degree, preferably in historical theology, biblical languages or other Christian studies. The online portion of the program engages students through email and online discussion groups, with assignments submitted electronically.
List of Common Islamic Studies Courses
The course load at this degree level typically covers Islamic culture in the context of a broad theological core. Islam is studied from historical, religious and geographical perspectives.
This class delves deeply into the latter books and lessons of the Christian Bible. The New Testament is typically part of the Islamic studies general requirements.
Starting with Genesis, this class covers the oldest books of the Bible. Students will study the writings from a Christian perspective, but the course will act as a foundation for Islamic apologetics.
Introduction to Islam
This class begins to discuss the Islamic faith, including the roots of the religion and its holy book, the Qu'ran.
This course is a historical and modern analysis of different Islamic nations throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East. Topics will include the role Islam plays in those societies and the history of Islam in the regions under study.
Graduates from a master's degree program are typically suited for missionary roles in Islamic societies. An Islamic studies degree gives Christian students the apologetics and linguistic skills necessary to increase their understanding of the Islamic faith. Many students who plan on pursuing doctoral research in theology will use a master's degree in Islamic studies as a stepping stone to that level. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), postsecondary teachers of cultural studies had a mean annual wage of $85,450 as of May 2018 (www.bls.gov). The BLS projected job growth of 7% for postsecondary teachers of cultural studies, as much as the average for all occupations, from 2018-2028.
Though rare, some online master's programs in Islamic Studies are available for individuals interested in missionary work or in preparation for doctoral research. These programs typically cover coursework in Islamic societies, the Old and New Testaments and an introduction to Islam.