University of Pittsburgh
three small photographs depicting various religious icons

Department of Religious Studies

Undergraduate

The Major in Religious Studies

Dormition of the Theotokos

To declare a major in Religous Studies, go to 140 Thack and make an appointment with our director of undergraduate studies, Dr. Rachel Kranson, to introduce yourself. Welcome Aboard!

Students who declare a religious studies major beginning Spring Term 2017 must complete the new requirements. Students who have declared a religious studies major no later than Fall Term 2016 may elect to complete the new major requirements below or the old major requirements.

Course Requirements

The major in Religious Studies requires ten courses (30 credits).

Introductory Courses: 6 credits

Students take the following 2 introductory courses:

  • 0105 Religions of the West
  • 0505 Religion in Asia

Students are encouraged to take the introductory courses early in the major.

Survey Course: 3 credits
Students take one of the following courses surveying a religious tradition:

  • 0025 Major Biblical Themes
  • 0405 Witchcraft to Walden Pond—Religion in Early America
  • 0415 Religion in Modern America
  • 0455 Intro to Islamic Civilization
  • 0715 Philosophy of Religion
  • 1120 Origins of Christianity
  • 1130 Varieties of Christianity
  • 1135 Orthodox Christianity
  • 1210 Jews and Judaism-Ancient
  • 1220 Jews and Judaism-Medieval
  • 1250 Jews and Judaism-Modern
  • 1500 Religion in India
  • 1550 East Asian Buddhism
  • 1560 Religion in China
  • 1570 Religion in Japan
Thematic Cluster: 9 credits

Students take 3 courses within the thematic cluster of their choice:

Religion, Medicine and the Body

  • 1143 Death in the Name of God—Martyrs and Martyrdom
  • 1150 Body and Society in Late Antiquity
  • 1151 Death in the Mediterranean World
  • 1405 Religion and Sexuality
  • 1554 Death and Beyond in Buddhist Cultures
  • 1558 Buddhism and Psychology
  • 1725 Death and the Healthcare Profession
Spirituality and Rationality

  • 0090 Myth in the Ancient Near East
  • 0735 Wisdom
  • 1100 Israel in the Biblical Age
  • 1140 Dualism in the Ancient World
  • 1142 Construction of Evil
  • 1145 Greco-Roman Religions
  • 1222 Jewish Mysticism
  • 1540 Saints East and West
  • 1545 Mysticism East and East
  • 1552 East Asian Meditative Traditions
  • 1610 Myth, Symbol, Ritual
  • 1760 Religion and Rationality
  • 1770 Science and Religion
  • 1762 Guide to the Perplexed
Religion, Culture, and Creative Expression

  • 0435 Religion, Film, and Literature
  • 0525 Religion and Culture in East Asia
  • 1148 Religions of Ancient Egypt
  • 1160 Jerusalem—History and Imagination
  • 1228 Exodus and Passover
  • 1425 Popular Religion in America
  • 1452 Hymns and HipHop—Sounds of Islam
  • 1510 Religion in India—Storytelling as a Religious Form
  • 1520 Buddhism Along the Silk Road
  • 1557 Buddhist Lives
  • 1572 Popular Religion in a Changing Japan

Religion, Identity, and Global Problems

  • 1240 Jews and the City
  • 1241 Gender in Jewish History
  • 1252 Holocaust History and Memory
  • 1372 Catholicism in the New World
  • 1438 Religion and Politics
  • 1450 Islam, Law and Politics
  • 1519 Religion, Nature, and the Environment
  • 1642 History of Christian-Muslim Relations
  • 1664 Christians, Muslims and Jews in the Middle Ages
  • 1620 Women in Religion
  • 1720 Religion and Culture (Spring 2016 only)
  • 1680 History and Memory in the Jewish Tradition
  • 1681 Inventing Israel—Zionism, Anti-Zionism, Post-Zionism
Electives: 9 credits
Students elect to take:

  • One 1000-level course of their choosing
  • Two other courses, which may include internship, UTA, URA, or directed study

See Descriptions of Regularly Taught Courses.

Capstone: 3 credits
All students write a senior thesis. The prerequisite for enrolling in the capstone seminar is at least six religious studies courses.

  • 1903 Directed Research Seminar (W course)

All graduating majors come together in their senior year (typically in the Fall Term) as an intellectual community to participate in a special seminar to produce a capstone research paper. The overarching thematic orientation of the capstone seminar changes with the instructor. Students are encouraged to develop research topics in their area of interest within the broader outlines of the annual theme. Students work with the seminar instructor as well as with a religious studies faculty research advisor with expertise in the particular area of research. Students have opportunities to share their work-in-progress with other seminar members throughout the term and to present their research at the conclusion of the seminar.

Important:

  • Students need permission from the DUS to enroll in RELGST 1903. Permission can be obtained during the pre-registration advising session with the DUS.
  • Majors who plan to study abroad in the Fall Term of the academic year in which they anticipate graduation should plan to complete six courses in the major by the Fall Term of their junior year. Juniors who will have completed six courses in the major by the Fall Term of their junior year may enroll in RELGST 1903 by petition to the DUS.
Distribution Requirements
The courses students take to fulfill their major requirements must include at least:
  • One course focusing on religion in Asia
  • One course focusing on ancient or classical religion in the Middle East and/or Europe
  • One course focusing on modern or contemporary religion in the Middle East, Europe, or the Americas 
Note

  • The same course may not fulfill more than one distribution requirement.
  • Introductory courses cannot fulfill distribution requirements.
  • No more than 6 credits applied towards the major can be taken NC/S.

Recent Capstone Themes

2016-2017: Experiencing Religion
2015:2016: Religious Expression
2014-2015: Transmission and Transformation
2013-2014: Religious Authority
2012-2013: Sacred Space
2011-2012: Transmission and Transformation
2010-2011: Scriptures, Canons, Classics
Spring 2010: Religion as a Social Construct
Fall 2009: Religious Lives
2008-2009: Revelation and Authority
2007-2008: Pilgrimage
2006-2007: Religion in Diaspora

Related Area Requirement

All Arts and Sciences students must complete a related area requirement. We believe this offers our majors an important opportunity to enhance their understanding of the religious process or an area of concentration through the study of the literature, language, art, or history of a particular culture, or through the study of disciplines or processes that are related to religion, such as social change, mythology, symbolism, and literature.

There are two ways to meet the related area requirement. Students should consult with the director of undergraduate studies for help with formulating their options.

  • Students identify a cluster of four courses (12 credits) that support and reinforce their study of religion. Students may use foreign language study as their related area, but those languages must show some relationship to a primary religion or cultural context within the major.
  • Students complete a second major, a minor, or a certificate program.

Checklist for Religious Studies Majors

Important Regulations for Majors

All courses counted toward the major must be taken for a letter grade and completed with a C grade or above.

At least five courses and the capstone seminar (for a total of six courses) must be completed on the Oakland campus. Students transferring from other colleges or universities need to consult with the director of undergraduate studies about transferring courses and credits to be applied to the major. See Transferring Credits.

Department honors require a grade point average (GPA) of 3.25 or higher in the major and a B+ or above in the capstone seminar.

More on Graduation Requirements and Degree Opportunities

Revised 11/23/16 | Copyright 2007 | Site by UMC WebTeam