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Philosophy and World Religions

Study of Religion Major

Study of Religion Major

36 Study of Religion credits are required for the major. 

Majors in the Study of Religion achieve four learning goals throughout the course of the major. 

A Learning goal is a set of skills or body of knowledge that a student should expect to acquire or expand their mastery of by completing a particular major.
By establishing "learning goals," majors in the Study of Religion know exactly why they are taking each class. These learning goals divide the classes taken by majors in the Study of Religion into categories that are easily understood and that guide the student through the major and the learning process.

Learning Goal 1: Critical Studies in Religion

Majors in the Study of Religion demonstrate an ability to reflect critically and empathetically on the subject.

They can describe and differentiate between devotional practices and the academic study of religion.

They are able to examine in a critical fashion the interaction of religion with culture.

They are aware of how their own beliefs and behaviors are formed.

one course is required:
Religion, Ethics, and Film RELS 1510
Religion, Magic, and Witchcraft RELS/ANTH 3103
Perspectives on Death and Dying RELS/PHIL 3110 / CAP 3194
Women and Christianity * RELS 3150
Malcolm, Martin, and Justice RELS 3310 / HUM 3138
Black Liberation & the Black Church RELS 3320
Religion and Ethics RELS 3500
Religion in America RELS 4230/5230

one course is required:
Old Testament and Other Hebrew Scriptures RELS 2001
New Testament and Early Christian Writings RELS 2002
Philosophy of Religion * RELS 2140
Myth and Symbol RELS 3120
Religion and its Critics *  RELS 3140
Why We Believe *  RELS 3170
Existentialism  RELS 3340

Learning Goal 2: Beliefs, Practices, and World Views of the Great Living Religions

Majors in the Study of Religion have knowledge of the beliefs, practices, and worldviews of major living religions.

They are familiar with the major teachings of the following traditions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

one course is required:
Great Living Religions: Hinduism and Buddhism RELS 2100
Great Living Religions: Confucianism, Daoism, Zen RELS 2110
Tribal Religions RELS/ANTH 2401
one course is required:
Great Living Religions: Judaism and Islam RELS 2120
Great Living Religions: Christianity RELS 2130

They can describe similarities and differences among traditions as well as the diverse religious viewpoints within each tradition. 
They can describe examples of important religious disagreements, controversies, or issues.

one course is required:
What is Religion? RELS 1030
Angels Across Cultures RELS 2210
Meditation and Mystical Experience RELS 2225
Faith and Reason: Philosophy in the Middle Ages RELS 2220
Religion and Sexuality * RELS 3130
Religion and Society * RELS 3160

Learning Goal 3: Reading, Understanding, and Writing

Majors in the Study of Religion have skills that are highly valuable to employers; they are able to relate their major to their career and to their future goals.
They are able to read and comprehend difficult texts.
They are able to produce written documents for a variety of audiences.
They are able to use a variety of library resources, both print and electronic, to conduct research.
They are able to competency and comfortably present research or ideas orally.
They are able to work effectively with others to formulate and present ideas and research.

Students are required to take two writing enhanced courses, which will count towards other categories as well. They are marked with an asterisk as well as listed here:
Philosophy of Religion RELS 2140
Religion and Its Critics RELS 3140
Women and Christianity RELS 3150
Why We Believe RELS 3170
Religion and Sexuality RELS 3130
Religion and Society RELS 3160

They are able to use the skills and knowledge developed in the study of religion to clarify their vision of a career appropriate to themselves.

They can persuasively explain to prospective employers outside the field of religion how what they have learned in the study of religion will enable them to be excellent employees who can do a variety of tasks comfortably.

Senior Seminar RELS 4490

Through thoughtful reflection and critical discernment, students synthesize their work in the major, clarifying what they have done and linking their achievements with life goals, while they also explore how deep learning outcomes in the major offer preparation for a career, graduate school, or professional school.

Additional Electives in Religion

Religions of the World RELS 1020
Individual Readings in Religion RELS 3080
Studies in Religion RELS 4186
Ethics Practicum RELS/PHIL 4550
and not more than two courses from:
Ethics in Business RELS/PHIL 1540
Environmental Ethics RELS/PHIL 2550
Bio-Medical Ethics RELS/PHIL 3510 / CAP 3173

Pre-Theological Emphasis

Students preparing for ministry or for graduate professional education in theology at a seminary or divinity school, regardless of major, are advised to consult with our pre-theological advisor, Jerry Soneson (, who will help them know the requirements of individual schools and to plan an undergraduate program appropriately designed for their professional interests.