Online Master's in Philosophy, Theology and Religions (PhilTeR)
Academic programs in philosophy often proceed as if God didn’t exist, and do not consider the documented growing interest in religion.
In those rare cases where religion is indeed considered, only the relationship between philosophy and Christianity is delved into, as if other religions, especially Judaism and Islam, did not exist and played little to no role in the history of philosophy.
Our program fills these gaps with an international and interreligious online course of graduate study.
The program runs for two years, with two semesters (or terms) per year. The first three terms comprise two modules each, with 4-6 courses per module. The fourth and final term will be dedicated to writing the MA thesis. Thus, the program comprises three half-year semesters of full-time courses, followed by one semester spent writing the thesis.
Students receive instruction from a team of professors from around the world, selected for their leading expertise in their respective fields. Lectures take place entirely online. Students can thus choose the pace at which they work through the lectures. Additionally, students enjoy the academic support and guidance from multiple tutors, all of whom are highly qualified to respond to questions and to help guide research.
The program is designed to encompass the best aspects of two formats for postsecondary education, ensuring the pedigree of a Swiss education together with the flexibility of online study. The benefits of online study in an increasingly globalized and industrialized world are clear:
- Work-life balance: No commute and a flexible schedule allow for more time for family, friends, career, and personal development without compromising the quality of study.
- Enhanced communication: Far from limiting interpersonal interaction, a centralized online platform allows students to contribute and to be heard more clearly when sharing ideas and concerns, without getting lost in the crowd.
- Participation in an international community: An entirely online format allows for an otherwise uniquely international student body, which in turn grants students the opportunity to gain a global perspective by engaging with the diverse cultural backgrounds and experiences of their classmates.
We have also taken several additional measures to ensure that students remain connected with each other and form a genuine community:
- Each year, students set up a group chat and/or recurring video meets. These methods enable them to discuss their classes and research with each other on a daily basis, and have already been an indispensable part of establishing camaraderie and mutual support among the students of the inaugural PhilTeR cohort.
- Students are encouraged to keep in regular contact with the tutors, who are available to answer even minor or mundane questions via email, chat, or video call, often even during evenings or weekends. The tutors may also coordinate events with the students, such as general video calls or study sessions.
- In a more official capacity, discussion forums related specifically to course readings will be made available on the program platform, and moderated by the tutors.
- Students have the opportunity to take part in an annual week-long research conference in Lucerne (Switzerland) or in Palermo (Italy). Participating students attend in-person lectures by leading scholars, give their own talks, and enjoy various opportunities for discussion and conviviality as well as for exploring the beauty and history of the two cities. Participants also receive several credits towards their degrees. Participation is encouraged, but not mandatory, and students have the option of attending online.
History of Philosophy and Religions: Basic Concepts
Module 1: Basic Concepts I (CAS,* 15 CP)
1. History of Philosophy across Religions: an Introduction (Peter Adamson) (3 CP)
2. Foundational Concepts and History of Judaism (Simon Erlanger and Tyron Goldschmidt) (3 CP)
3. Foundational Concepts and History of Christianity (Ursula Schumacher) (3 CP)
4. Foundational Concepts and History of Islam (Erdal Toprakyaran) (3 CP)
5. Philosophy and Non-Abrahamic Religions (Ferenc Ruzsa) (3 CP)
Module 2: Basic Concepts II (CAS, 15 CP)
6. Philosophy and Religion in the Greek-Roman World (Christoph Helmig) (3 CP)
7. God as Being according to Plato and Aristotle (David Anzalone and Giovanni Ventimiglia) (1,5 CP)
8. Translatio Studiorum. Translations and Philosophical Exchanges in the Middle Ages between Jewish, Islamic and Christian Cultures (Charles Burnett) (3 CP)
9. Philosophical Lexicons across Traditions: coming from Greek, Latin, Jewish and Arabic/Persian Philosophical Texts (Marienza Benedetto, Davide Falessi and Mostafa Najafi) (3 CP)
10. Religious Sense across Religions (Santiago Ramos) (1,5 CP)
11. International research conference: Philosophical Issues across Religions (3 CP)
Total Credit Points: 30
History of Medieval/Modern Philosophy and Religions**
Module 3: God in the History of Philosophy (“Middle Ages”) (CAS, 15 CP)
1. Judaism (Marienza Benedetto) (4,5 CP)
2. Christianity (Pasquale Porro and Giovanni Ventimiglia) (4,5 CP)
3. Islam (Olga Lizzini) (4,5 CP)
4. Philosophical Books across Religions: The Liber de Causis and its Different Traditions (Maria Evelina Malgeri) (1,5 CP)
Module 4: God in the History of Philosophy (“Modernity”) (CAS, 15 CP)
5. Judaism (Warren Zev Harvey) (4,5 CP)
6. Christianity (Marco Lamanna and Paul Richard Blum) (4,5 CP)
7. Islam (Ulrich Rudolph) (4, 5 CP)
8. Does God Exist? Classical Arguments (Richard Cross) (1,5 CP)
Total Credit Points: 30
Contemporary Philosophy and Religions: Topics and Problems
Module 5: Topics and Problems I (CAS, 15 CP)
1. Philosophy of Religion I: Epistemology of Religion (Linda Zagzebski) (3 CP)
2. Philosophy of Religion II: God’s Existence and Attributes (Gyula Klima) (3 CP)
3. Philosophy of Religion III: God, Freedom and Evil (Ryan Mullins) (3 CP)
4. Divine Attributes across Religions (Maarten J.F.M. Hoenen) (3 CP)
5. Interreligious Relationships I (Emanuele Colombo) (3 CP)
Module 6: Topics and Problems II (CAS, 15 CP)
6. Jewish Contemporary Philosophy (Tyron Goldschmidt, Aaron Segal) (3 CP)
7. Christian Contemporary Philosophy (Winfried Löffler) (3 CP)
8. Islamic Contemporary Philosophy (Gary Carl Muhammad Legenhausen) (3 CP)
9. Philosophy in the Modern Islamic World and the Reception of Western Philosophy (Roman Seidel) (3 CP)
10. Interreligious Relationships II (Jehoschua Ahrens) (1, 5 CP)
11. God Beyond Reason (Giovanni Ventimiglia, Ryan Mullins, Marco Lamanna, Dario Affronti, Ali Taghavinasab, Marta Borgo, David Anzalone, Davide Falessi, Almedina Fakovic) (1, 5 CP)
Total Credit Points: 30
MA Thesis: 30 CP
The credits associated with the program are as follows:
- 120 credit points obtained over the course of 2 years or 4 semesters. Each semester consists of 2 modules of 15 credit points each, for a total of 30 credit points per semester. The final semester is devoted to the Master’s thesis, and is also 30 credit points.
- Eight elective courses (3 credit points each) in select topics (e.g. Dogmatic Theology, Fundamental Theology, Theological Ethics, Church History) to complement and/or substitute the standard curriculum.
- Option for CAS (Certificate of Advanced Study) made up of 15 credit points – start planned in September 2023 – consisting of either one of 3 subject specific complements (Jewish, Christian or Islamic Philosophy).
- Examinations will consist of  a free-topic written paper and  a written general test per Module (approx. mid-January and end of June). They will be conducted on the web platform Moodle, and will be identical in content and requirements to in-person exams.
* Certificate of Advanced Study.
** “Medieval,” “Middle Ages,” “modern” and “modernity” are used in a conventional manner.
Anyone with a bachelor’s degree recognized by the University of Lucerne in philosophy, theology, or religious studies can be admitted to the program. Applicants with an equivalent undergraduate degree can also be admitted after a formal check by the University. Relevant other subjects include: Cultural Studies, International Studies, International Law, Comparative Constitutional Law and Religions, Languages (Hebrew, Arabic), and History.
Spring semester: All applications must be submitted online no later than 30 November 2023 (or no later than 31 January 2024 for late registrations).
Autumn semester: All applications must be submitted online no later than 30 April 2024 (or no later than 31 August 2024 for late registrations).
For online registration, a one-time registration fee of CHF 100 will be added. In the event of late registration, an additional processing fee of CHF 150, i.e. a total of CHF 250, will be charged.
If you are unsure whether you meet the requirements for this program please get in contact with us.
- The tuition fee per semester (including exams and use of the Moodle learning platform) is CHF 810 for educational residents (students who were residents of Switzerland when they obtained their certificate qualifying them for university admission) and CHF 1110 for educational foreigners. (students who resided outside of Switzerland when they obtained their certificate qualifying them for university admission). More information is available here.
The MA PhilTeR team organizes an international conference each year.
Starting 2022 with our summer school in Palermo called Philosophical Lexicon on the Crossroads of Philosophy and Abrahamic religions. Have a look at the program here.
2023: International Research conference «Fake Faiths: God, Beliefs, and the Rationality of Assent». Have a look at the program here.
Should you require any further information about the Master's in Philosophy, Theology and Religions, please contact our Academic Advisor and/or Student Advisor:
The program imbues students with expertise in philosophy, logic, theology, and cultural history, as well as fundamental methodological skills essential for academic and professional study. The broad range of topics and cultures studied in the program ensures that students are well positioned for any one of several different later career trajectories:
The program trains students in various fields crossing traditional disciplinary lines, including history of philosophy, historical theology, philosophy of religion, contemporary analytical philosophy, and non-Western philosophy. This course of study widens the scope of possible subsequent studies at the doctoral level: graduates are in a competitive position to apply not only to programs in philosophy, but also in theology and religious studies. For instance, the Faculty of Theology of Lucerne has recently created a PhD (Dr. Phil. in Theological Studies) for which graduates of this program would be ideally suited.
Aptitude in interreligious collaboration
In a multicultural society challenged by global migratory phenomena, the demand for professionals who are knowledgeable about history, as well as the history of philosophy and intellectual history of cultures other than their own, continues to grow. A strong command of the mentality and intellectual history of different cultures is an indispensable tool for interreligious dialogue. The specific training offered by this program meets these needs.
Graduates of the program will possess competitive credentials for international careers in culture, education, media, politics, public administration, consulting, church and religious services, and NGO work, such as journalism, media & publishing, public relations & marketing, personnel services, political consulting, political and cultural foundations, management consulting, high school philosophy and humanities teaching, archives/museums /libraries, church non-profit and international organizations, social employment, and asylum systems.