Majors & Programs

 

Religious Studies

What is Religious Studies?

Religion is a major source of inspiration, meaning, and controversy in human societies, and it continues to shape—and be influenced by—many other fields, including law, science, politics, economics, art, and literature. The study of religion offers the opportunity to study all of these aspects of human life via the rituals, stories, scriptures, music, art, and institutions that have sustained communities of believers, past and present.

One does not have to be religious in order to study religion! Religious Studies is a diversified and multi-faceted discipline that encompasses both the study of specific traditions and the study of religion as a human phenomenon. It spans cultures around the world, ancient as well as modern. It also combines a variety of methodologies and deals with subjects as diverse as U.S. politics, Beyoncé, the Middle East, atheism, Tolstoy, Gandhi, Black Lives Matter, debates over climate change, and Buddhist philosophy.

A major in Religious Studies provides excellent preparation for living and working in a pluralistic society and global culture. The study of religion equips students to analyze past and current events with a critical but open mind. It invites a more interdisciplinary way of thinking about the world and our place in it. A minor or double major can also enhance studies in a broad range of other disciplines, including politics, medicine, business, and law.

The Major

The major in Religious Studies requires a minimum of 30 units in Religious Studies. Of these, 24 units must be in courses numbered 300 or above. There are three com-ponents to the major: required foundational courses; electives; and the capstone experience.

Required foundational courses (6 units): All majors must take the following:

  • L23 204 Thinking About Religion
  • L23 368 Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion

Electives (21 units; 18 units must be numbered 300 or above):
All majors must take at least seven courses chosen in consultation with their major advisor and should fulfill the following:

  1. At least one course from four of the following areas: Judaism; History of Christianity; Islam; Buddhism; East Asian religions; South Asian religions; and religion in the Americas.
  2. A 3 course series in one religious tradition or thematic concentration; and a 2 course series in a different religious tradition or thematic concentration

Please note: A course can count towards both A and B. For examples of how these electives can be fulfilled please visit our website.

Capstone Experience:
In their senior year, Religious Studies majors are required to take L23 479 Religious Studies Senior Seminar. Alternatively, students can fulfill the capstone requirement by writing an honors thesis.

The Minor

The minor in Religious Studies requires a minimum of 18 units. Of these 12 units must be in courses numbered 300 or above. There are two components of the minor: required foundational courses and electives.

Required foundational courses (6 units): All minors must take two required courses.

  • L23 204 Thinking About Religion
  • L23 368 Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion

Electives (12 units; 9 units must be numbered 300 or above):
Minors may choose their electives based on individual interest and in consultation with their minor advisor. Please keep in mind that at least three of the four courses must be numbered 300 or above.

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