About Religious Studies


Religious Studies is the critical study of religious beliefs, practices, texts, institutions, and communities. We ask: What is religion? How has it functioned in societies past and present? How do religious groups answer the enduring questions of human existence? Our approach to these questions is interdisciplinary, non-religious, and often comparative.

The academic study of religions and their place in human civilizations past and present is a matter of vital importance for our world in the 2020s and into the future.

Religious Studies is the academic, interdisciplinary study of religious beliefs, practices, texts, institutions, and communities. Scholars in this field research and teach about religion as it has existed in the human past and in a variety of forms today. This is different from religious training or confessional study of a religious tradition from within that tradition.

The academic study of religion is often first encountered at the University level, and students can find Religious Studies classes challenging because they might raise questions around preconceived ideas and assumptions. This is part of what makes a university education valuable.

Our faculty and instructors are qualified experts in the academic subjects that they teach, and the content taught in our courses is supported by the consensus of scholarship in those subjects.

Our instructors are dedicated and conscientious teachers who respect students and take seriously their responsibility to teach effectively to a diverse class of learners. Students range widely in their levels of background knowledge about particular religions, and our instructors are sensitive to the challenges students may face in adjusting to new ways of studying religious traditions.

The academic discipline of Religious Studies in a public university such as ours does not (and legally must not) require a personal religious affiliation on the part of its instructors, but it does expect instructors to teach all religions fairly and accurately, from a neutral standpoint regarding the personal faith commitments of instructors or students.

Students from any or no personal faith background can take our classes confident that they will receive a sound and balanced academic course related to any religious tradition


An undergraduate degree in Religious Studies will prepare you to do research, think, ask questions, and communicate your ideas – skills that will take you in many different personal, intellectual and career directions. Religious Studies graduates are particularly well equipped for careers in:

ADVOCACY: lawyers, social workers, employment in Foundations and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

COMMUNICATION: film and television producers, journalists, writers,  and editors

EDUCATION: school teachers, university professors