Why Study Religions?

Religion is arguably the most powerful and pervasive force in the world. Studying religions can help one understand the complex and sometimes volatile relationships between religion and politics, economics, and social structures. In our increasingly interdependent global community, awareness of various past and present features of religious life—events, texts, personages, ceremonies, rituals, convictions, theologies, visual representations, artifacts—can lay the foundation for informed and thoughtful analysis of contemporary life.

Such analysis is important in considering international issues and also domestic ones (such as abortion, evolution, faith-based initiatives, homosexuality, capital punishment, stem-cell research, marriage, civil rights, and school prayer). The study of religion thus helps us to understand the faiths, world views, and ways of life of millions of people. And of course, the study of religion can be a path to self-understanding.

Our Department offers introductory courses in all the major religious traditions, notably Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Other courses offer additional study of these or other traditions and their texts, often focusing on specific features -- such as gender, ethics, visual modes, mysticism -- or historical periods. Many other courses examine theoretical or comparative aspects of religious phenomena, especially as they are manifest in the modern world.

Undergraduate Offerings

Credential Requirements Overview
Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies 10 Courses
  • Introductory Course
  • At least 3 Courses within Three Religious Traditions
  • 4 Courses with Thematic/Methodological Focus
  • 1 Course as Independent Study, Small Group Learning Experience, or Honors Project

Interdepartmental Major: Ancient Religion and Society

7 Religious Studies Courses in toto, at least five of which must be numbered 200 or above
  • REL 101 (Introduction to Religious Studies) is required.
  • At least 1 course on a religious tradition outside the Mediterranean is required
7 Classical Studies Courses in toto, at least five of which must be numbered 200 or above
  • Required courses in Option 1 (historical emphasis) or Option 2 (language emphasis)
  • At least 2 courses that focus on Classical Civilization as it relates to ethics, myth, religions, or socio-cultural components broadly foundational for the study of religion.

The fourteen courses must include a small-group Learning Experience Course in either department

Minor in Religious Studies 5 Courses

Affiliated Program

Credential Requirements Overview
Certificate in Jewish Studies 6 Courses
  • Introduction to Judaism
  • Independent study