Rainbow Clouds in Marin County

M.A. in Ecology, Spirituality, and Religion

Learn to articulate your voice for Earth in a community of scholars and activists

Program Overview

Program Length

2 Years

Number of Units




Next Cohort


Related Program

Our Approach

CIIS’ online master’s degree in Ecology, Spirituality, and Religion emphasizes an embodied approach that values contemplative practice and social justice as well as rigorous study. Our master's students are motivated by their deep concern for the state of Earth and their determination to find creative solutions for the future. In an engaged learning community with faculty and peers, students examine ecological issues from a variety of religious studies, social science, and policy perspectives.

Career Paths

Our graduates are highly qualified to find – or create – roles in multiple fields that address ecological and spiritual concerns. Many of our graduates have found fulfilling positions in some of the following fields:

  • Teach, publish, and conduct research in academic settings
  • Research and publish in non-academic settings (journalism, fiction, and nonfiction)
  • Create or work for nonprofit organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
  • Integrate Ecology, Spirituality, and Religion knowledge and skills into their current careers


Over the course of the program, students become familiar with one or more religious traditions that resonate with them, as well as one or more specific ecological issues. After developing the ability to navigate the epistemological challenges in studying religion and ecology and the various approaches to the philosophy of religion, they will embark on creating a capstone experience that integrates their many insights. 

Curriculum Highlights

PAR 6079 Ecology in a Time of Planetary Crisis (3 units) Ecology is the study of oikos, Greek for "household" or "home." What does it mean, existentially, to find that our home, Earth, is under threat as a result of human actions? This course provides a broad overview of the human imbrication in planetary systems. Beginning with an exploration of the patterns and processes identified by ecological science, such as emergence, chaos, competition, cooperation, and self-organization, we broaden into an examination of critical planetary issues, including climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, fresh water depletion, agriculture, fisheries collapse, and globalization. Framings of ecological issues are placed in dialogue with religious and spiritual views, allowing students to discuss the complex interconnected ways that worldviews, biophysical science, institutions, ethics and justice have shaped the current state of Earth.

PAR 6078 Theory and Method in the Integrative Study of Religion and Ecology (3 units) Scholarship that crosses disciplinary boundaries requires a unique set of tools and strategies. This course is devoted to exploring theoretical and methodological lenses that allow rigorous, imaginative, and sympathetic engagement with interlocutors from the diverse fields represented in the Ecology, Spirituality, and Religion concentration. Following a historical and critical introduction to the fields of religion and ecology, we investigate a range of methodological approaches and conclude with the application of these approaches to specific ecological case studies.

PAR 6057 Indigenous Lifeways and Ecology (3 units) Indigenous communities and traditions offer perspectives embedded in land-based practices and the spirits of place. In the context of settler colonialism and genocide, indigenous biocultural and ecological restoration intersects with food sovereignty, stewardship of ancestral lands and sacred sites, and environmental justice. The class will explore traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), as well as indigenous myths, symbols, and rituals that orient the human within Earth and the cosmos.

  • Year One (18 units)

    PAR 6078 Theory and Method in the Integrative Study of Religion and Ecology (3 units)

    PAR 6079 Ecology in a Time of Planetary Crisis (3 units)

    One Religion course (3 units) Options may include:

    PARP 6532 Christianity and Ecology

    PARP 6563 Buddhism and Ecology

    PAR 6483 Hinduism and Ecology

    PARP 6538 Krishna, Buddha, and Christ

    PARW 6548 Women and World Religions

    One Philosophy course (3 units) Options may include:

    PARP 6403 Spirit and Nature

    PARW 7006 Women Philosophers, Mystics, and Wisdom Teachers

    PAR 6071 Philosophy and Ecology: Toward a Green Metaphysics, Phenomenology, and Epistemology

    PAR 6089 Myth, Imagination, and Incarnation: Barfield, Tolkien, Lewis, and the Oxford Inklings

    PAR 6472 The Colors of American Philosophy: Pluralism, Pragmatism, and Political Transformation

    General Electives (6 units) Students may choose from any course in the School of Consciousness and Transformation

    Year Two (18 units)

    PARP 6533 Touch the Earth: Ecology Practicum (3 units)

    PARP 6897 Integrative Seminar (3 units)

    One Religion Course (3 units, same tradition as first year)

    One Ecology Course (3 units) Options may include:

    PARP 6522 Science, Ecology, and Contested Knowledge(s)

    PARP 6523 Environmental Ethics

    PARP 6525 Toward an Integral Ecological Consciousness

    PAR 6292 Next of Kin Perspectives on Animal Ethics and Biodiversity

    PARP 6278 Integral Ecologies

    One Feminism, Globalization, and Justice Course (3 units) Options may include:

    PARW 6428 Ecological Consciousness and Climate Justice

    PARW 7002 Ecofeminist Philosophy and Activism

    PARW 6419 Transformative Philosophies of Justice: Local and Global Perspectives

    PARW 6425 Gender, Power, and Spirit in Indigenous Cultures

    PARP 6431 Martin Luther King Jr.—Justice, Cosmology, and Interconnection

    General Electives (3 units) Students may choose from any course in the School of Consciousness and Transformation

Entry Requirements

Applicants with a variety of backgrounds will be considered, provided the applicant possesses demonstrated interest in the subject matter of the concentration, and strong writing, analytical, and critical thinking skills developed during undergraduate study at an accredited institution.

  • Online Admissions Application: Begin the application process by submitting an online application and paying the non-refundable $65 application fee.

    Degree Requirement: A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

    Minimum GPA: A GPA of 3.0 or higher in previous coursework is required. However, a GPA below 3.0 does not automatically disqualify an applicant and CIIS will consider a prospective student whose GPA is between 2.0 and 3.0. These individuals are required to submit a GPA Statement and are encouraged to contact the Office of Admissions to discuss their options.

    Transcripts: Official transcripts from all accredited academic institutions attended where 7 or more credits have been earned. If transcripts are being mailed to CIIS, they must arrive in their official, sealed envelopes. Transcripts from institutions outside the U.S. or Canada require a foreign credit evaluation through World Education Services (WES). CIIS will also accept foreign credential evaluations that are in a comprehensive course-by-course format from the current members of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES).

    Autobiographical Statement: A four-to-six page (typed, double-spaced) essay focused on the values, interests, life experiences, and spiritual insights that led to your decision to apply to this program.

    Goal Statement: A one-page (typed, double-spaced) statement of your educational and professional objectives. 

    Academic Writing Sample: A writing sample of eight-to-ten pages (typed, double-spaced) that demonstrates your capacity to think critically and reflectively and demonstrates graduate level writing abilities. A sample that uses outside sources must include proper citations. You may submit copies of previous work, such as a recent academic paper, article, or report that reflects scholarly abilities.

    Two Letters of Recommendation: Letters of recommendation should ideally be from professors who can attest to your scholarly writing and research abilities. If you are not able to obtain two letters from faculty, one of the letters can be from an academic advisor or professional supervisor. Recommenders should use standard business format and include full contact information (name, email, phone number, and mailing address).

Our Department in Action


Come to the Summer Info Fair on June 6, 2024 to ask questions and learn more about CIIS' innovative online and in-person academic programs.

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