Major in Religious Studies

To declare a major in Religious Studies, complete this form. Welcome aboard!

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
  • 0083 Mythology in the Ancient World
  • 0283 US and the Holocaust
  • 0405 Witchcraft to Walden Pond—Religion in Early America
  • 0415 Religion in Modern America
  • 0454 Rise of Islam
  • 0455 Intro to Islamic Civilization
  • 0715 Philosophy of Religion
  • 1120 Origins of Christianity
  • 1130 Varieties of Christianity
  • 1135 Orthodox Christianity
  • 1144 Classical Mythology and Literature
  • 1210 Jews and Judaism-Ancient
  • 1220 Jews and Judaism-Medieval
  • 1250 Jews and Judaism-Modern
  • 1320 Medieval History 1
  • 1500 Religion in India
  • 1550 East Asian Buddhism
  • 1570 Religion in Japan
  • 1665 Anthropology of Religion
  • 1710 Perspectives on Religion

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
  • 1402 Health and Religion
  • 1405 Religion and Sexuality
  • 1511 Yoga: Of Loincloths and Lululemon
  • 1545 Mysticism in Asia
  • 1554 Death and Beyond in Buddhist Cultures
  • 1558 Buddhism and Psychology
  • 1560 Religion and Healing in China
  • 1575 Law and Medicine in Asian Religions
  • 1722 Healing, Shamanism, and Spiritual Possession
  • 1725 Death and the Healthcare Profession
  • 1726 Healing and Humanity

Spirituality and Rationality

  • 0090 Myth in the Ancient Near East
  • 0735 Wisdom
  • 0770 Science and Religion
  • 0780 Quantum Karma: Science in Hindu and Buddhist Traditions
  • 1102 The History of God
  • 1140 Dualism in the Ancient World
  • 1142 Construction of Evil
  • 1145 Greco-Roman Religions
  • 1222 Jewish Mysticism
  • 1280 Modern and Contemporary Jewish Thought
  • 1540 Saints East and West
  • 1552 Buddhist Meditative Traditions
  • 1610 Myth, Symbol, Ritual
  • 1760 Religion and Rationality
  • 1762 Guide to the Perplexed

Religion, Culture, and Creative Expression

  • 0435 Religion, Film, and Literature
  • 0525 Religion and Culture in East Asia
  • 1100 Israel in the Biblical Age
  • 1148 Religions of Ancient Egypt
  • 1160 Jerusalem—History and Imagination
  • 1170 Archaeology of Israel-Palestine
  • 1228 Exodus and Passover
  • 1425 Popular Religion in America
  • 1428 Religion and Sports
  • 1452 Hymns and HipHop—Sounds of Islam
  • 1510 Hindu Mythology
  • 1520 Buddhism Along the Silk Road
  • 1557 Buddhist Lives
  • 1572 Popular Religion in a Changing Japan
  • 1802 ReligYinz: Religion in Pittsburgh 

Religion, Identity, and Global Problems

  • 1240 Jews and the City
  • 1241 Gender in Jewish History
  • 1252 Holocaust History and Memory
  • 1256 Modern Israel and Palestine
  • 1370 Global Christianity
  • 1372 Catholicism in the New World
  • 1380 Religion Right Now
  • 1417 Philosophy of Race & Religion
  • 1420 Religion and Race
  • 1438 Religion and Politics
  • 1445 Muslim Politics in Real Time
  • 1449 Islam & Conflict in Global Contexts
  • 1450 Islam, Law and Politics
  • 1455 Islam in Europe
  • 1458 Women and Islam in Asia
  • 1475 Religious Diversity
  • 1519 Religion, Nature, and the Environment
  • 1600 Asian-American Religions
  • 1620 Women in Religion
  • 1642 History of Christian-Muslim Relations
  • 1644 Muslims, Christians and Jews in the Middle Ages
  • 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.


  • 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 


  • 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

Major and Minor Sheet PDF

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.

Students who earn a quality point average (QPA) of 3.50 or higher in the major and a A- or above in the capstone seminar graduate with Department Honors.

More on Graduation Requirements and Degree Opportunities