Islamic Studies and Muslim Cultures (MA with the Aga Khan University Institute for Muslim Civilizations in London)

Program Category: Dual-Degree Program
Email Address:  kp2692 [at]
Program Director:  Kathryn Spellman Poots

Degree Programs:  Free-Standing 2.5-year MA, housed in the Middle East Institute at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (Semesters 1 and 2) and at the Aga Khan University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations in London (Semesters 3, 4, and 5).   Students earn two degrees: a Master of Arts from Columbia University and a Master of Arts from the Aga Khan University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations. 

The innovative curriculum includes a two-year sequence of core seminars and interdisciplinary electives, and offers intensive language training. At the heart of the program is the thesis, an original scholarly work based on empirical research and analysis, finalized in the student’s 5th and final semester.  During their final semester, students may also undertake an optional field project in a location relevant to their thesis’ subject matter.

A unique partnership of two leading universities, the dual-degree program unites a cutting-edge scholarly community of over one hundred specialized faculty members and language instructors who provide trans-disciplinary and critical approaches to the study of the religious and intellectual traditions of Islam and the diverse regional histories, cultures, and social formations of Muslim societies around the world.

Graduates are prepared for further academic training at the PhD level and for careers in government, journalism, think tanks, human rights work, political advocacy, and development NGOs.

Note: The program requires two and a half years of full-time study, which must be taken in sequence. Students cannot complete one year of the program and receive only one degree. Degrees are awarded after all program requirements at Columbia University and the Aga Khan University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations have been met.

Special Admissions Requirements: 
Students apply through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University. The Joint Steering Committee, including faculty members from both Columbia and Aga Khan evaluates the applications and makes the final decisions jointly.

Deadline for Fall Admission: Thursday, February 17, 2022
Resume Requirement: Yes
Writing Sample: Yes
Writing Sample Number of Pages: 8-10
GRE General: No
Degree Programs: Full-time
Free-standing: Yes
Letters of Recommendation: 2

Additional Admission Requirements: 
In addition to these requirements, students must provide a short statement of academic purpose (1,000 words or 2 pages in length) and an academic transcript from each post-secondary institution they attended.