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Undergraduate Studies:

Navigating the Major and Minor in Religion

Majoring in Religion

The B. A. in Religion enables students to develop a critical awareness and understanding of one of the foundations of human culture and society. Such awareness and understanding are essential for careers in diplomacy, government and public policy, international relations, environmental and human rights advocacy, law, social services, psychotherapy, medicine, education, the arts, architecture, television, radio and film, public history, museums and research, journalism, tourism, and of course faith-based leadership. The B. A. in Religion requires students to take 30 credits: no more than 12 in lower-level courses, and 18 in upper-level courses. See the course catalog for more details.

One of the best ways to pursue a major in Religion as a first-year student is to start with 100- and 200-level courses. Such courses will introduce you to this interdisciplinary field through traditions or theme-oriented courses, and allow you to explore your interests in related courses. As you discover new things and develop your interests further, you can talk with your professors, other faculty in the Religion Department, and the Director of Undergraduate Studies about how best to plan a course of study suited to you. 

In your sophomore year, you can deepen your exploration of the academic study of Religion by taking upper-division courses, studying a foreign language, and studying abroad. You might also attend, even get involved in Religion Department activities and events, not only those specifically for undergraduates, but also talks sponsored by the Department and by graduate students. This is also a good time to start talking with your Religion professors, the Director of Undergraduate Studies, and advisors in the College of Arts and Sciences assigned to Religion about actual careers you might pursue, based on your studies and interests. 

As a junior and a senior, you might focus on specialized interests in your course work by constructing a concentration in either traditions, society, inquiry, or literature. You might even decide to construct your own area of study with the aid of the Director of Undergraduate Studies. If you have not already started studying a foreign language, particularly one appropriate to your study, you might do that, and couple it with more study abroad. 

As a senior, you might present a paper at a regional academic conference such as the American Academy of Religion’s Eastern and International Division conference. You might also get inducted into the Religion honor society and/or develop a project or thesis. If you retain a consistently high grade point average, you might even consider applying to graduate with distinction. See the course catalog for more information.

If you are already an upper-class student, and have just developed an interest in the Religion major, it is not too late. Many of our majors come to us as juniors, and declare Religion as a first or second major. Of course, if you are a freshman or sophomore, you do not need not wait until you’re a junior, when there is so much to explore!

Minoring in Religion

Finally, if minoring in Religion works best for you, it is also quite simple to do, and can be done at almost any point in your academic career, even though, like majoring, it is most beneficial if you declare early. In order to minor in Religion, you only need to take 18 credits, 12 of which must be in upper-division courses. See the course catalog for more details.


Religion Department Learning Expectations

However you decide to explore the academic study of Religion, you can expect to learn to do three things that coordinate well with our learning outcomes below, namely:

  • To understand better the nature and diversity of religious expressions in the contemporary world and in history, and their power in peoples’ personal and collective lives;
  • To think more deeply and critically about religious experience and its modes of expression and forms of interpretation;
  • To recognize and appreciate the difficulties and possibilities in a disciplined study of religion; and to become aware of a diversity of approaches and methods within that study.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Examine the degree of religious diversity in the world both historically and in the world today
  2. Appreciation for the crucial role that religion has played in the course of human history
  3. Critically and imaginatively analyze the role of religion in human expression, thought, and social institutions both historically and in the present day
  4. Explain a particular religious tradition and/or problem within the study of religion
  5. Recognize the difficulties inherent in undertaking a coherent, disciplined study of religion, and to be aware of the diversity of perspectives within that study
  6. Communicate effectively in writing
  7. Communicate effectively orally