Degree Programs

The study of religious traditions explores the religious beliefs, actions, and cultural practices of individuals and communities across the world and throughout history. Through the course of their studies, our students gain an inter-cultural literacy and an appreciation for the world views of other peoples and cultures, as well as their own. Religious Studies courses approach the study of religion from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Students are invited to critically consider the spiritual, historical, literary, ethical, doctrinal, contemplative and social dimensions of religious people and cultures. Through engaging the study of religions in an academic context, we seek to generate respect for the religious lives of all traditions. While many students find the study of religion is important for reflecting upon their own religious identity, no particular religious position is privileged or assumed in any of our courses.

Bachelor of Arts Requirements

Bachelor of Arts Requirements

The major consists of ten courses and the senior capstone The ten courses are to be fulfilled from the categories listed below.

1. One introductory course in foundations of religious studies:
Foundational courses provide students with a framework for understanding religious traditions and introduce students to the methods and approaches to the study of religion.

REL 125 World Religions
REL 131 American Religious History 
Or the equivalent determined in consultation with a departmental advisor

2. Two courses in Cultures and Communities:
Courses in cultures and communities introduce students to the diverse worlds in which religious communities have found-and continue to find-their form.

REL 126 Asian Religions in Southern California
REL 145 Introduction to Islam
REL 165 Islam in America
REL 189 Religion and Popular Culture 
REL 199 Cults and Sects: The History of New Religious Movements in America
REL 202 History of Judaism 
REL 206 The 'Other' Jesus
REL 208 Global Christianities REL 232 Hinduism(s)
REL 232 Hinduism(s)
REL 233 Buddhisms
REL 245 Queer Religiosities
REL 251 Women, Sexuality and Western Religion
REL 252 African-American Religion and Spirituality
REL 255 Gender in Islam 
REL 325 Japanese Religion and Arts
REL 350 The History of Social Protest in America
REL 351 Women, Sexuality, and Buddhist Traditions
REST 231 Native American Women and Gender
REST 234 Race, Ethnicity and Religion
REST 346 Native American Religions and World Views
SOAN 233 Jewish Culture: Cooking and Community
SOAN 354 Jewish Identity
Or a topics course approved by departmental advisor

3. Two courses in Texts and Contexts:
Texts and contexts courses invite students to engage in close and contextualized analysis of the textual traditions of a given religious tradition.

REL 241 Ancient/Biblical Hebrew (2-course sequence; 2 credits each)
REL 242 Hellenistic Greek (2-course sequence; 2 credits each)
REL 292 Sacred Life Stories in Asian Religious Traditions
REL 307 Old Testament Literature: Hebrew Scriptures
REL 308 Christian Scriptures
REL 330 Buddhist Literary Imagination
REL 411 Masterpieces of Asian Literature
ENGL 118 The Literature of the Bible
Or a topics course approved by departmental advisor.

4. Religion and Ethics:
Ethical teachings and practices are central to every religious tradition. The study of Religion and Ethics provides us with resources for addressing ethical crises in the world today.

REL 120 Religion and Ethics
REL 122 Religion and Ecology: Environmental Ethics
REL 250 Compassion
REL 257 Science and Religion
REL 323 Mysticism
REL 358 Psychology and Religion
REST 242 Southern California Indian Relations with the Land
SOAN 232 Saints, Sects, and Society
OR a topics course approved by departmental advisor

In order to construct a course of study with sufficient breadth and depth, of the ten courses drawn from the above categories, at least one 200 level (or above) focusing upon non-Western religions must be taken.

5. Electives-three additional courses selected from the list above or a semester abroad program chosen in consultation with an advisor in the Religious Studies Department. REL 450 (2 credits) may be taken twice to count for one of the elected courses, as may other 2-credit REL classes.

6. Capstone Requirement:

Two Senior Seminars:
REL 490 (taken the Fall Semester of the senior year)
REL 495 (taken the Spring Semester of the senior year)

Senior Religious Studies minors, Johnston seniors, and seniors from interdisciplinary programs may request permission to enroll in these seminars.

7. Capstone Project- Successful completion of ONE of the following two capstone projects (specific guidelines and deadlines are available for each option in the department office):

  1. Senior Thesis/Project:

    Substantial research paper that offers an original and in-depth examination of a topic approved by the student's advisor.

  2. Internship:

    Reflective engagement in a meaningful off-campus site of service or ministry, approved by one’s advisor. Examples are a religious organization (church, temple, mosque, monastery), government agency, or non-profit organization. Students are encouraged to find a site that
    expands their learning related to an anticipated profession. The internship is meant to be in addition to the Community Service Learning Activity (CSAC) graduation requirement. Eighty hours are required, or the equivalent in consultation with one’s advisor.

The Minor

The Minor

At least one must be taken from each of the categories below.

1. Introductory course:

−− REL 125, REL 131, or the equivalent determined in consultation with a departmental advisor

2. One course in Cultures and Communities:

−− REL 126, REL 145, REL 165, REL 189, REL 199, REL 202, REL 206, REL 208, REL 232, REL 233, REL 245, REL 251, REL 252, REL 255, REL 325, REL 350, REL 351, REST 231, REST 234, REST 346, SOAN 233, SOAN 354, or a topics course approved by departmental advisor

3. One course in Texts and Contexts: 

−− REL 241, REL 242, REL 265, REL 292, REL 307, REL 308, REL 330, REL 411, ENGL 118, or a topics course approved by departmental advisor

4. One course in Religions and Ethics:

−− REL 120, REL 122, REL 250, REL 257, REL 323, REL 358, REST 242, SOAN 232, or a topics course approved by departmental advisor

5. 2 Electives:

−− Two additional courses in consultation with a departmental advisor. 2-credit courses such as REL 450 may be taken twice to count as an elective for the minor.



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