Academic Program

The study of religion is a humanistic discipline that focuses on religion as one important element in culture. Historical, literary, anthropological, and theological methods of study offer a critical approach to understanding religion and its expressions in myths, symbols, and ideas, as well as in religious communities, rituals, and moral actions.

Because this study often considers fundamental human questions that are asked by every generation, it is closely linked with other academic disciplines that study the nature and character of human life.

Majoring in the field of religious studies provides a focus for integrated study in the humanities. Majors are expected to consult with members of the department in designing their program. The study of religion often embraces work in other fields, and majors are encouraged to coordinate courses in other fields with their work in religious studies. The department strongly encourages study abroad and students may petition to count up to two abroad credits toward the major or minor. More information on the religious studies curriculum is available on the website (

Major Requirements. The religious studies major consists of eleven courses (twelve for honors candidates), one of which must be taken in another academic department/program. These courses must comprise:

1) Two courses in theoretical and/or comparative studies of religion. The courses that satisfy this requirement include all 100-level religious studies courses (preferably taken before the senior year), and the following:
FYS 445. The Nature of Spirituality.
RE/WS 207. Eve, Adam, and the Serpent.
CM/RE 218. Greek and Roman Myths.
CM/RE 221. Venice to Istanbul and Cairo: Religion and Trade in the Medieval Mediterranean.
AN/RE 225. Gods, Heroes, Magic, and Mysteries: Religion in Ancient Greece.
AA/RE 233. Literary Representations of the Africana Religions.
PL/RE 243. Religion and Modern Critics.
PL/RE 260. Philosophy of Religion.
AN/RE 265. Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion.
ES/RE s25. Food and the Sacred.

2) Two courses from two of the following areas (for a total of four courses; courses taken that are listed in more than one area cannot be counted twice):

Area A (Judaism/Christianity):
CM/RE 235. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible.
REL 236. Introduction to the New Testament.
CM/RE 238. Jews and Judaism in Antiquity.
CM/RE 240. History of Christianity: Conflict, Self-Definition, and Dominance.
REL 242. History of Christian Thought II: The Emergence of Modernity.
REL 243. Religion and Modern Critics.
REL 247. City upon the Hill.

Area B (Islam):
GS/RE 203. Women, Gender, and Islam.
CM/RE 264. Islam Civilization: Politics, History, Arts.
AC/RE 272. Islam in America.
REL 274. Quran: Text, Culture, Arts.

Area C (Religion and Modern Society):
FYS 152. Religion and Civil Rights.
FYS 445. The Nature of Spirituality.
PHIL 112. Contemporary Moral Disputes.
REL 133. Religion, Violence, and Nonviolence.
REL 216. American Religious History, 1550-1840.
REL 217. American Religious History, 1840-Present.
AA/RE 233. Literary Representations of the Africana Religions.
PL/RE 243. Religion and Modern Critics.
REL 247. City upon the Hill.
REL 255. African American Religious Traditions.
REL 270. Religion and American Visual Culture.
AC/RE 272. Islam in America.
ES/RE s25. Food and the Sacred.
REL s27. Field Studies in Religion: Cult and Community.

Area D (Religion in South and East Asia):
FYS 289. The Life of the Buddha.
AS/RE 208. Religions in China.
AS/RE 209. Religions in Japan.
AS/RE 249. The Hindu Tradition.
AS/RE 250. The Buddhist Tradition.
AS/RE 251. Religions of Tibet.
AN/RE 263. Buddhism and the Social Order.
RE/WS 311. Buddhism and Gender.
AS/RE 348. Epics of Asia: Myth and Religion.

3) Two 300-level seminars.

4) REL 450. Senior Research Seminar.

5) REL 457 or 458 (senior thesis) or both REL 457 and 458 (honors thesis).

Pass/Fail Grading Option. Pass/fail grading may not be elected for courses applied toward the major.

Minor. The minor in religious studies consists of six courses which must normally be specified prior to the start of a student's senior year. These courses are to be selected according to the following guidelines and in consultation with a member of the department faculty who is chosen or appointed as the student's departmental minor advisor: a) one course from requirement 1) above (theoretical and/or comparative studies of religion); b) at least one 300-level seminar; c) four other courses in religious studies.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. Pass/fail grading may be elected for only one course applied toward the minor.