Students in the program may apply by course of study petition for PhD admission in the winter quarter of their second year or in the winter quarter of the first or second year following receipt of the MA. Students are required to complete fifteen courses during the six quarters of residence to receive the degree. This number of courses is considered optimal for achieving the program's dual goal of genuine breadth of acquaintance with the methods of religious inquiry and some depth of knowledge in a specific area of concentration. In today's global society, the understanding of religions as human phenomena is a core cultural competency. Private and public sector organizations alike benefit from such competency in conducting their business and fulfilling their missions in society. Companies and agencies who operate around the world seek out such well-rounded employees at all levels of their organizations. From business to journalism, from foreign service to leadership in non-profit organizations, our MA alumni often choose non-academic career paths. Learning to think critically is foundational for any professional pursuit, and the MA program offers students the opportunity to engage intellectually with students preparing for academic careers, public religious leadership, and other professions. The resources of our MA alumni, as well as the University's Office of Graduate Affairs, are engaged to provide MA students with a wide range of professional options.