incense burning during a religious service

Religious Studies

Throughout history, religious traditions have been a strong motivating force, fueling efforts toward social justice, peace and human rights, as well as conflict, violence and oppression.

What to Expect

As a religious studies major, you will explore the many roles religion has played and continues to play both in society and in individual people's lives. Whether it is Zen monks, ancient Christian martyrs, Muslim and Jewish women, Hindu saints or Chinese philosophers, our courses introduce you to people and phenomena from all over the world. Learning about religion provides an opportunity to explore different cultures and develop a more global perspective.

Religious studies courses help to develop your critical-thinking abilities, your analytical reading and writing skills and your capacity for interpretation and comparison — abilities that are essential in every field of study. Through Maymester programs and study abroad opportunities, students have been able to travel to India, China, Japan, Greece, Turkey and elsewhere.

Some graduates also go on to receive their Master of Divinity and Doctor of Divinity in theology or pastoral ministry, but there is great need for those who understand the complex meanings of religion in global contexts across many fields.


Undergraduate Degree

B  B.A. in Religious Studies

The Department of Religious Studies, in the College of Arts and Sciences, offers interdisciplinary approaches to the academic study of religious beliefs and practices. The focus of study connects religion with literature, history, philosophy and anthropology. Many different religious traditions are studied with attention to religious beliefs and practices in their historical, cultural and philosophical contexts.

Students may choose the general major or may pursue an intensive track, which includes a senior thesis. Typical courses for religious studies majors include:

  • Introduction to Religious Studies
  • Old Testament
  • New Testament
  • Introduction to Islam
  • African-American Religious Experience
  • Faith, Doubt and God
  • Literature and Film of the Holocaust
  • Religions of South Asia
  • Origins of Western Morality
  • Jewish Messianism

Apply for Undergraduate Admission

Our Office of Undergraduate Admissions provides the most current information on the application process so you can check the requirements based on your current status and find university scholarships.