Department of Religious Studies

The Department of Religious Studies, one of the largest humanities departments at Duke, is among the most prestigious departments of religious studies in the country. We offer a broad selection of undergraduate courses to our majors, minors, and all interested students on campus. We also offer a Master of Arts program in Religion, and we operate, together with the Divinity School, Duke’s Graduate Program in Religion, which has ranked among the top doctoral programs in the country for the past 20 years.

Gray Building
Gray Building, Duke University

In our teaching and research, we all engage in different aspects of the study of religion, using a variety of perspectives and methodologies. Several of us study major religious traditions of the world—Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. We study these traditions at work in the present-day societies and in their histories, examining their origins and sacred texts (often in the original languages) as well as their historical developments, rituals, artifacts, practices, material forms, and transformations over time.

Beyond the study of individual religious traditions, we also explore the theories and definitions of religion. The literature is dense and challenging, but learning to engage it is necessary in the formation of critically-minded scholars today.

Come Study with Us

Join us in this intellectually enriching adventure as a major, a minor, or for individual courses. Given the multifaceted nature of the study of religion, many of our courses will serve as useful complements for students primarily interested in other fields—sociology, political sciences, public policy, education, history, art history, law, cultural anthropology, or medicine.    

To our study of religion we welcome students of different religious and non-religious backgrounds. Our Department wants to reflect fully the diversity and complexity of today’s world – and of Duke’s campus! While being respectful of all religious traditions in their various manifestations, we will at the same time ask critical questions and always consider different answers in our attempt to understand better any individual religious tradition as well as the place of religion in human society.