The Major in Religious Studies
To declare a major in religious studies, go to the Student Records Office in 140 Thackerary, then make an appointment to meet our director of undergraduate studies. Welcome aboard!
Students who declare a religious studies major beginning Spring Term 2017 must complete the following 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.
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 creditsStudents 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: Chinese Religious Traditions
- 1570: Japanese Religious Traditions
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
- 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
- 1771: Science and Religion
- 1762: Guide to the Perplexed
- 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 2: Storytelling as a Religious Form
- 1520: Buddhism Along the Silk Road
- 1557: Buddhist Lives
- 1572: Popular Religion in a Changing Japan
- 1225: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Europe: Conflict and Cooperation
- 1240: Jews and the City
- 1241: Gender in Jewish History
- 1252: History of the Holocaust
- 1372: Catholicism in the New World
- 1438: Religion and Politics
- 1450: Islam and Politics
- 1519: Religion, Nature, and the Environment
- 1642: History of Christian-Muslim Relations
- 1644: Jewish-Christian Relations
- 1620: Women in Religion
- 1680: History and Memory in the Jewish Tradition
- 1681: Zionism, Anti-Zionism, Post-Zionism
Electives: 9 creditsStudents elect to take:
- One 1000-level course of their choosing
- Two other courses, which may include internship, UTA, URA, or directed study
- 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.
- 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 RequirementsThe 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
- 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
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
2006-2007: Religion in Diaspora
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.
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.