University of Pittsburgh
three small photographs depicting various religious icons

Department of Religious Studies

Undergraduate

Graduation Requirements

General Arts and Sciences Regulations

Full-time study is considered enrollment for 12 to 18 credits per term. School of Arts and Sciences students may not exceed the 18-credit limit without written permission from the Arts and Sciences assistant dean of undergraduate studies in 140 Thackeray Hall.

School of Arts and Sciences regulations state that up to six credit hours (typically two courses) can be applied to courses that meet the requirements of one major (e.g., Religious Studies) and a second or double major (e.g., History).

Graduation from the University of Pittsburgh requires a minimum of 120 passing credits with a 2.00 Grade Point Average (GPA).

No more than 60 credits may be taken in courses in any one department. Students may take no more than 18 credits of the 120 required for graduation outside of the Arts and Sciences.

Applying for Graduation
Mary and Jesus

Important: Graduation is not automatic. Students must file an application for graduation in the Undergraduate Studies Office in 140 Thackeray Hall by the end of the term preceding the term in which they expect to graduate (i.e., if a spring graduation is anticipated, the application must be filled out by the end of the fall term). The deadline for turning in graduation applications is on the Graduation Calendar.

Graduating with Honors

Undergraduate members of a graduating class who have attained an outstanding scholastic record may graduate with University honors. To be eligible, a student must complete at least 60 letter-graded credits at the University of Pittsburgh. All degree-related course work completed at the University is calculated in the grade point average.

University honors are awarded for achieving the following grade point averages at graduation: 3.75 (summa cum laude), 3.50 (magna cum laude), 3.25 (cum laude). The honor status achieved by a student appears on the student’s Pitt transcript and diploma.

Department honors are bestowed on majors who earn both a GPA of 3.25 or better in the major and an A- or better in RELGST 1903.

Multiple Majors and Certificate Programs

Students who are working towards another departmental major or minor should consult with the director of undergraduate studies about Arts and Sciences regulations governing which and how many courses may apply towards more than one major. Arts and Sciences regulations state that up to six credits (typically two courses) of overlap is permitted.

Students should consult the director of undergraduate studies and the appropriate program to combine the study of religion with a certificate in the following fields:

African Studies

Asian Studies

Film Studies

Global Studies

Jewish Studies

Latin American Studies

Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Russian and East European Studies

West European Studies

Women’s Studies

The BPhil Degree

The University Honors College offers highly motivated students the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Philosophy degree. To earn the BPhil, students fulfill the degree requirements of the School of Arts and Sciences (and for the major). To this they add a demanding program of study proposed by the student and approved by the Honors College as well as independent research culminating in an original undergraduate thesis. Pursuing this degree is an excellent way to experience the rigors of independent research with faculty mentors in your area of interest.

Examples of recent thesis topics by religious studies majors who earned this prestigious degree are:

  • "Expressing the Absolute: Pluralism and the World-in-Itself," Erik Hinton (Philosophy and Film Studies, class of 2010)
  • "Deep Ecology in Action: A Series of Case Studies on the Conservation Efforts of Monastics and Other Religious Leaders in Mongolia, India, and Thailand," Timothy R. Jackson (class of 2009)
  • "Returning to Exile?: The Retrieving and Rejecting of Jewishness in French Shoah Narrative," Ryan Suskey (class of August 2008)
  • "Condom Use and the Spread of HIV/AIDS in Muslim-Majority Middle East and North African Countries," Robin M. Farabee-Siers (class of 2008)
  • "Agape as Evolutionary: A Transpersonal Approach to the Physical and Spiritual Evolution of Humanity," Thomas Menditto (class of 2008)
  • "Recurring Dreams: A Novel in Stories," Greg Heller-LaBelle (class of 2006)
  • "From Prajñā to Praxis: Finding Upāya in the American Marketplace," Patrick Dunn (class of 2004).
Transferring Credits from Other Institutions

The Office of Undergraduate Studies in 140 Thackeray Hall (412.624.6776) makes determinations about transfer credits and courses accepted by the University of Pittsburgh. Transfer credits are of two types: Arts and Sciences Equivalent Courses and Arts and Sciences Non-equivalent and Regional Campus Courses. Once a determination has been made by the School of Arts and Sciences, the department applies the following procedures in determining whether and how these courses may count toward the major or minor.

Arts and Sciences Equivalent Courses

If Arts and Sciences has determined that a course is the equivalent of a school course and has been entered on the student’s record as that course, it is considered as though the student took the course on the Pittsburgh campus in terms of fulfilling major or minor distribution requirements. For example, if a student took World Religions: East at Temple University and the Pitt transcript shows RELGST 0505: Religion in Asia, the department considers that student to have taken RELGST 0505 as though s/he had done so in the department.

Important: The course is still counted as a transfer course and not one taken on the Pittsburgh campus in terms of meeting the Pittsburgh campus requirement for the major. At least five courses plus the capstone seminar for majors and at least three courses for minors must be taken on the Pittsburgh campus. This does not apply in the case of courses taken at a Pitt regional campus, which is addressed in the following section.

Arts and Sciences Non-equivalent and Regional Campus Courses

If the School of Arts and Sciences has processed the transfer credits as RELGST 0000: Religious Studies Transfer, the department will determine whether the course is the equivalent of the type of courses that the department offers in the major or minor. If determined to be equivalent, the course can be counted toward the major or minor as an elective course.

Courses taken at a Pitt regional campus that carry a RELGST designation do not automatically count toward the religious studies major or minor on the Pittsburgh campus. The department will determine whether the course is the equivalent of the type of courses that the department offers in the major or minor. If determined to be equivalent, the course can be counted toward the major or minor as an elective course.

To make a department determination, the director of undergraduate studies (DUS) requires:

  • A copy of the course syllabus (mandatory)
  • A copy of the course description from the course catalogue of the college or university offering the course
  • A Web address (or department brochure) of the department offering the course
  • Copies of examinations and papers completed by the student in the course
  • Copies of handouts and assignments for the course

Materials are reviewed by the DUS in consultation with appropriate faculty members, as needed. The main criterion for acceptance of the transfer credit for the major or minor is that the course was taught from an academic and non-sectarian perspective.

Courses that take a historical, philosophical, social-scientific, or literary approach to material are appropriate. Courses that take a theological approach or that teach from a particular religious viewpoint are typically not accepted. In almost no cases will a course offered in a theological seminary, yeshiva, or other institution devoted to religious education be accepted. Courses offered at public or non-sectarian private colleges and universities will typically (but not always) be accepted. Courses offered at church-related colleges and universities may be accepted if the department can ascertain that the course was not taught from a theological or sectarian perspective.

More General Academic Regulations

Revised 08/16/17 | Copyright 2007 | Site by UMC WebTeam