Master of Arts in Muslim-Christian Relations



30 credit hours

Program Length

as few as 10 months


Accredited by ABHE

Understand and Engage with the Islamic World with an MA in Muslim-Christian Relations 

Columbia International University’s Master of Arts in Muslim-Christian Relations provides you with the knowledge and skills to understand and engage with the Muslim world. Making up half of the world's population, historical tensions and misunderstandings have hindered meaningful dialogue and cooperation between these two faith traditions. In fact, the Muslim world remains one of the least reached areas for the gospel from a Christian perspective. 

Through CIU’s MA in Muslim-Christian Relations you will delve into the history, philosophy and theology of Islam, gaining a comprehensive understanding of this influential faith. Additionally, you will explore the historical interactions between Muslims and Christians, enabling you to navigate these complex dynamics with cultural sensitivity and a missional mindset. 

By comparing the beliefs of Christianity and Islam, you will gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of your own Christian faith. This comparative approach equips you to engage in meaningful dialogue with Muslims, fostering a greater appreciation for their beliefs and values while effectively communicating the message of the gospel. Whether you aspire to serve in cross-cultural ministry, missions or simply desire to engage with Muslims in your community, this program will equip you with the necessary tools and perspectives to make a positive impact. 

You have the flexibility to choose between studying on CIU’s picturesque campus in Columbia, South Carolina, where you can complete the program in one academic year, or opting for our cutting-edge interactive online format. Online courses, each lasting eight weeks, are designed to accommodate your schedule and provide an immersive learning experience. You will have the opportunity to study alongside a diverse cohort of students and be guided by recognized experts in the field who have extensive experience living and working in the Muslim world. 

During your studies, you will engage in a wide range of courses such as Introduction to Islam, the Life of Muhammad, Islamic Theology, The Spirit World of Muslims, Christian Approaches to Muslims and a History of Muslim-Christian Relations. These courses, facilitated by renowned scholars, will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the complexities of Muslim-Christian relations and empower you to engage in meaningful interfaith dialogue and ministry. 

Come to CIU and be equipped to bridge the gap between Muslims and Christians, gaining the knowledge, skills and cultural sensitivity necessary to navigate the challenges and opportunities in Muslim-Christian relations. Through the MA in Muslim-Christian Relations, you will have the opportunity to be a catalyst for positive change and build bridges of understanding, reconciliation and love between these two faith communities. 


Next online class starts May 6, 2024

Why Choose Columbia International University for the MA in Muslim-Christian relations degree?

Columbia International University has been at the forefront of Muslim studies for over 20 years through our renowned Zwemer Center. CIU’s commitment to understanding Islam and engaging Muslims is deeply ingrained in the academic and practical approach of the Muslim studies programs. At CIU, you will have the unique opportunity to study under the guidance of expert resident faculty and Zwemer fellows, who are distinguished scholars with extensive experience living and serving in various regions of the Muslim world, including North Africa, the Middle East and Central and South Asia. 

CIU believes in the importance of firsthand knowledge and practical experience. That's why our faculty members have not only studied Islam extensively but have also lived and continue to live out the principles they teach. Their personal encounters and interactions with Muslims bring a richness and authenticity to your learning experience. You will benefit from their deep insights, firsthand stories and practical wisdom gained through years of living in Muslim-majority countries and engaging with diverse Muslim communities. 

By studying with faculty who have direct experience in the Muslim world, you will have the privilege of learning from individuals who have navigated the complexities of Muslim societies, engaged in interfaith dialogue and demonstrated Christlike love and compassion to their Muslim neighbors. Their expertise and personal experiences will shape your understanding of Islam and provide you with a holistic perspective that goes beyond academic knowledge. 

Through our program, you will not only gain a comprehensive understanding of the history, philosophy and theology of Islam but also be exposed to the practical aspects of engaging with Muslims in various cultural contexts. Our faculty will share practical strategies and insights on how to effectively communicate the gospel message, build relationships and address the unique challenges and opportunities that arise in Muslim-Christian interactions. 

By joining CIU and studying within our vibrant academic community, you will become part of a legacy of dedicated scholars and practitioners who have made significant contributions to the field of Muslim Studies. You will have the opportunity to engage in thought-provoking discussions, collaborate with fellow students who share your passion and be mentored by recognized experts in the field. 

CIU's commitment to understanding Islam and engaging Muslims is not just an academic pursuit; it is a calling to bridge the gap between faith communities, foster mutual understanding and share the transformative power of the gospel. Through our program, you will be equipped to engage in meaningful interfaith dialogue, pursue missional opportunities and make a positive impact in the lives of Muslims around the world. 

Join us at CIU, where you will find a vibrant community of scholars and practitioners who are dedicated to understanding Islam, engaging with Muslims and equipping you for a transformative journey of learning, growth and cross-cultural ministry. Together, we can make a difference in the world by building bridges of understanding, compassion and reconciliation between Muslims and Christians. 


Overall Benefits of the MA in Muslim-Christian Relations degree

The M.A. in Muslim Christian Relations provides training for those working and serving in the Muslim world. Graduates from this program are equipped to work and serve in various spheres including: 

  • Mission Service: Missionaries in cross-cultural service across the Muslim world; mission agency office support person; mission mobilizer 
  • Governmental Service: Diplomatic positions in U.S. embassies overseas. 
  • Nongovernmental Work: Serve in a nongovernmental organization in the Muslim world or among Muslim immigrants to other countries 
  • Development and Relief Work: Some of the poorest, most underdeveloped and war-torn nations in the world are predominantly Muslim countries. Serve in development and relief with significant understanding of the Muslim context. 
  • Peacemaking: Serve as an advocate for peace where there is conflict among Muslims themselves and between Muslims and people of other faiths 
  • Academic Careers: Ph.D. work leading to careers in college, seminary and university-level teaching, both in the United States and abroad.

Featured Faculty

Edward L. Smither

Dean, College of Intercultural Studies, Professor of Intercultural Studies and History of Global Christianity

What Will I Study?

  • ICS 5020 Introduction to Islam

    This overview of Muslim faith and practice with an emphasis on comparisons with Christianity will help you develop a better understanding of Islam and learn to explain the gospel to Muslims with greater passion and sensitivity.

    3.00 credit hours
  • ICS 6024 Understanding Cultures & Worldviews

    This course will enable you to understand the worldview assumptions that are foundational to a person's belief systems and behavior patterns. You will analyze the culture and worldview of an ethno-linguistic or socio-economic grouping of people from a biblical worldview perspective. You will also consider elements of biblical contextualization.

    3.00 credit hours
  • ICS 6071 Approaches to Muslims

    In this course, you will analyze and evaluate ways Christian witness relates to conversion, discipleship, and church planting among Muslims. Special attention will be given to what message your lifestyle and public behavior communicate to Muslims. You will learn to respond to Muslim concerns and objections, clarify their points of confusion, and help them see Jesus as Lord and Savior.

    3.00 credit hours
  • INT 6920 Global Internship

    As a capstone experience in your degree, you will spend a minimum of 250 hours in a context of intercultural or Muslim ministry under the supervision of a qualified mentor in the field. Your location, plan for ministry, and field mentor must be approved by your advisor before registration.

    3.00 credit hours
For a comprehensive list of courses related to this program visit the Academic Catalog.

Admission Requirements

  • Completed application
  • Official transcripts for highest earned degree and any master’s degree work
  • Church leader reference
  • Application Essay (800 words total, typed)
  • Minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA

Accreditation and Accolades

ABHE (The Association for Biblical Higher Education)
SACSCOC (The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges)

​​​​​​Career Path Opportunities

  • Cross-Cultural Mission Service 
  • Government Service 
  • Nongovernment Service 
  • Nonprofit Work 
  • Refugee Resettlement 
  • Academic Careers 


Top FAQs

How much does the program cost?

Please check the Tuition and Fees page for the most up-to-date information. There are certain discounts and benefits given for military status and to employees and family members of our partner organizations. Our financial aid counselors will help you determine the best way to finance this important investment in your future career earnings. For more detailed information, check our Financial Aid page and select the option for online students here.

How long does the program take?

If you are taking two online classes per eight-week term, then you will finish within 10 months. If you take one class per eight-week term, then you will finish in 18 months. If you are on campus, then you may take five courses per semester (Fall and Spring), allowing you to finish in 10 months.

When can I start?

There are six, eight-week terms within a calendar year (Fall 1, Fall 2, Spring 1, Spring 2, Summer 1, Summer 2) so you may begin at any of these start dates in August, October, January, March, May or July.

How do online classes work?

When you open the Canvas site, you will see that a week begins on Monday morning and ends on Saturday night at 11:59 p.m. Each week when you open the course, you will have readings, pre-recorded lectures and assignments. Most assignments are due on Wednesday or Saturday night of each week. You will discuss the readings and lectures each week in online forums with your classmates and instructor. Though there are no required class meetings since students are often spread across the world in different time zones, your professor may invite you to a voluntary Zoom meeting. You can also schedule a consultation with your professor over Zoom.

How much time does a single class take?

You should plan on about 15 hours per week for one online class.

Do I need to come to campus?

For online students, there is no requirement to come to campus, but we are always happy to see you for a visit or when you come for graduation.

What can I do with this program?

There are a number of career paths including cross-cultural mission service, government service, non-government service, non-profit work, refugee resettlement and academic careers.


You may also be interested in