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Bachelor of Arts in Religion

photo of a student standing by a windowWhy Major in 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.

Program of Study

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

Introductory Sequence: Religion Majors should complete the Introductory Sequence of courses as soon as possible, for these classes provide the foundation for advanced studies in Religion.

  • What Is Religion (REL 2050) introduces the student to the basic theories and methods in the study of religion.
  • Nonwestern Religion (REL 2320) introduces the student to the academic study of major nonwestern religious traditions of the world, examining their historical development, fundamental doctrines and beliefs, practices, institutions, and cultural expressions.
  • Bible, Qur'an, and Western Culture (REL 2040) introduces the student to the textual formation, early historical development, and influence of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Area Requirements: Religion Majors must take one course in each of the five principal areas in the study of religion.

  • American Religions: This area covers the history and diversity of religion in the United States, from the colonial period to the present.
  • Biblical Studies: This area covers both the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the New Testament, and includes literary, critical, and thematic studies of the biblical texts.
  • South Asian Religions: This area covers the religious traditions of India, including the history and development of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism.
  • East Asian Religions: This area covers the religious traditions of Japan and China, including Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Zen, and Shinto.
  • Western Religions: This area covers the history and development of the major western, or Abrahamic, religious traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Electives: Religion Majors must take a minimum of three additional upper-level electives. These courses may be chosen from any of the above five areas. Students may concentrate their work in one area or spread it out over several areas.

REL 4930: Seminar in Religion.  All Religion Majors must take this class. Taught in seminar style, it requires students to engage in extensive reading, writing, and class participation. Topics vary from year to year, depending on who is teaching the class.