School of Humanities and Cultural Studies

Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Religion

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Why Choose Comparative Religion?

  • To learn more about the history of your own religious tradition.
  • To learn about the religious beliefs and practices of diverse traditions.
  • To study how religion shapes human society and culture.
  • To study how religion informs human values.
  • To study how religion shapes American politics and foreign policy.
  • To understand the global community in which we live.
  • To develop the skills of critical thinking and effective writing employers demand.
  • To develop the cultural awareness necessary to succeed in a global economy.
  • To prepare for graduate school in religion at a university or seminary.

To study religion is to understand ourselves. We learn how different peoples have imagined their world, their place in it, and the ideal ways of living in it. We explore how religion unifies and divides human communities; shapes political views and gender roles; produces great intellectual achievements and horrific acts of violence. We study how religion has influenced our history, culture, values, and beliefs, and read the great texts that define different faith communities.


Studying religion will provide you with skills essential to success in today’s multicultural workplace and global economy. In our increasingly diverse society, employers need people who understand the variety of religions, cultures, and worldviews that define where we live and work. They are also looking for employees with good people skills. Since studying religion teaches tolerance of difference, it provides an excellent foundation for jobs that require relating to others, building bridges, and global awareness.

Studying religion also develops important workplace skills. In our classes, you will learn how to synthesize diverse information and present it effectively. We emphasize thinking critically about a topic or problem, analyzing its elements, and writing clear and effective critiques. These are skills required by most professions.

After graduation, you will be well prepared to look for employment in diverse fields and to move into different fields as your career develops. Possibilities include the following:

  • Management, marketing, and the service industry
  • Non-profit and social service organizations
  • Museums and arts organizations
  • Publishing and writing
  • Government and international relations

Graduate and Professional School

The comparative religion major equips you for a career that requires additional graduate or professional education. It provides an excellent foundation for many professions including, but not limited to:

  • Education
  • Law
  • Business, especially International Business
  • Social Work and Counseling
  • Journalism
  • Medicine


Comparative religion majors, like many humanities students, often choose to pursue careers in teaching. With additional training, this major can lead to teaching either religion or another humanities or social science subject on either the K-12 or the college/university level.


The comparative religion major is an excellent foundation on which to build a career in primary and secondary school education. Many private and religiously affiliated schools are looking for qualified teachers with training in religious studies. Public schools may also offer courses in the academic study of religion, particularly world religions.

In addition to these options, a comparative religion major may also lead to teaching in a number of related areas, including history, social studies, and political science. For additional information on the qualifications and training necessary to pursue a teaching career, you should consult the College of Health, Education, and Human Services.


The comparative religion major is also an excellent foundation on which to build a career in college and university teaching. With additional training, students may pursue employment teaching religious studies, or a related field, including history, sociology, political science, international studies, and art history.

Teaching at the college and university level requires graduate education, a master's degree at a minimum, and most commonly a doctoral degree (Ph. D.). Applying for graduate school requires careful planning and preparation. If you are interested in pursuing graduate work in religion or another field you should consult your faculty advisor. You should discuss with your advisor a variety of issues:

  • Areas of specialization
  • Language requirements
  • Applying to the right schools
  • Taking the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
  • Obtaining letters of recommendation
  • The job market

Ministry and Related Careers

As a comparative religion major, you may choose to pursue leadership positions in your community of faith. In addition to the formal ministry, such fields as religious education, religious counseling, missions, and religious music are possible career paths.

Most professional leadership positions, including the ministry, require graduate education in an appropriate seminary or theological school, and the application process is similar to that of other graduate schools. If you are interested in this sort of career, you should consult your faculty advisor, as well as a representative of the faith tradition in which you would like to serve.

Pre-Law Program

You can earn a B.A. in comparative religion and complete the pre-law program of study at the same time. You simply take the pre-law courses as your electives. With careful planning and the proper preparation, you can do this in four years.

Combining these two programs of study may also improve your career options. Increasingly, law schools are looking for well-rounded students who have the strong critical thinking, writing, and communication skills the comparative religion major provides.

For further information, contact the Pre-Law Program or Ava Chamberlain.

Pre-Med Program

You can earn a B.A. in comparative religion and complete the pre-med program of study at the same time. You simply take the pre-med courses as your electives. With careful planning and the proper preparation, you can do this in four years.

Combining these two programs of study may also improve your career options. Increasingly, medical schools are looking for well-rounded students who have both strong science training and broad interpersonal and intercultural skills.

For further information, contact the Pre-Health Program at or Ava Chamberlain.

View the comparative religion program profile for sample occupations, average salary, and employment projections.

Real-World Experience

Comparative religion majors are encouraged to enhance their programs of study by pursuing opportunities for experiential learning, such as the following:

Success Stories

Jacquelyn Weaver volunteered with the Peace Corps because she wanted to relate to people and help them without being motivated by money.

Academics and Curriculum

Religion department faculty use an academic, non-confessional methodology in teaching religion. As faculty employed at a public state university, we respect in the classroom the constitutional separation of religion and government. We do not aim to argue for the truth of one, all, or no religions. Our primary mission is to encourage students to understand a broad range of religious phenomena from diverse times and traditions, with depth, objectivity, and methodological sophistication. We analyze religious beliefs, practices, texts, and institutions both descriptively and critically as intellectual, historical, and cultural phenomena.

We offer courses in all the great world religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Chinese and Japanese religions. We teach a range of courses on the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and American religious history. In addition, we offer cross-cultural and thematic courses that examine particular topics, including women and religion, religion and politics, human rights, ethics, religious pluralism, mythology, mysticism, witchcraft, and film.

  • Introductory Courses: Students must take two 2000-level Comparative Religions courses.
  • Upper-Level Electives: Students must take nine 3000-4000 level Comparative Religions electives. A minimum of two courses must be taken in each of the following areas:
    • Asian Religions: This area covers the religious traditions of India, Japan, and China, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Confucianism, Daoism, Zen, and Shinto.
    • Western Religions: This area covers the religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, including Biblical Studies and American Religions courses.
  • Advanced Course: Students must take one 4000-level Comparative Religions course.

View Bachelor of Arts in Religion program information and degree requirements in the Academic Catalog.

Religion Course Descriptions


  • New students: Review the college admission requirements and complete the admission application. Identify that you will be majoring in comparative religion.
  • Transfer students: Contact the Transfer Admissions Office, as well as Dr. Ava Chamberlain, to explore how this major can work for you.
  • Current students: If you wish to change majors, go to the WINGS Express major/minor change request form and change your major. If you are an undecided/exploratory student, talk to  Dr. Ava Chamberlain, to learn how this major can work for you.


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