Religious Studies, Bachelor of Arts College of Letters & Science

Religion is a major force in human experience. It has shaped the world's history, literature, art, culture, politics, ethics, and economics. In addition to offering courses in all the major religious traditions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism,) the Religious Studies Program has developed cross cultural courses dealing with religious symbols, myths, and rituals in written texts, art, theater, and film, and the Internet, as well as, thematic courses dealing with such topics as religion and the body, the rise of fundamentalism, religion and science, religion and ethics, and religion and violence.

The Program

The major introduces students to the academic study of religion. Students can choose from a broad range of courses both in the program itself and in other departments and programs-history, philosophy, psychology, sociology, anthropology, American studies, classics, and medieval studies. In addition to studying religious thought per se, students in the major can also study the way religion has shaped human behavior in such matters as family life, gender roles, ethics, artistic life, concepts of individual freedom, the pursuit of science, and economics. For some students, Religious Studies is an appropriate second major and combines well with anything from philosophy to international agricultural development, political science, and the physical sciences.

Career Alternatives

Because of the program's focus on developing critical thinking, writing, and reading skills, students who major in Religious Studies are well prepared to enter a variety of careers, including, the health professions, law, business, teaching, and government. In an increasingly global society, knowledge of the world's religious traditions and practices has become an essential part of a student's education.


A reading knowledge of a foreign language is highly recommended.

Course Equivalents

The major advisors have a list of lower and upper division courses that can be substituted for courses suggested above.

Honors & Honors Program

A student becomes eligible for graduation with honors by meeting the minimum GPA and course requirements established by the College of Letters & Science. Upon successful completion of the additional requirements of the College of Letters & Science Honors Program, individual students may be recommended by the program for graduation with high honors or highest honors on the basis of an evaluation of their academic achievements in the major.

Education Abroad Program

The Religious Studies program encourages students to study in the Summer Abroad program, the Quarter Abroad program, or the Education Abroad program. With the approval of a major advisor, applicable courses taken abroad may be accepted in the major or minor programs.

Teaching Credential Subject Representative

See the Teaching Credential/M.A. Program.


Students interested in Hebrew courses should see Hebrew.

Human Rights Minor

Students interested in the Human Rights minor should see Human Rights Minor.

Jewish Studies

Students interested in Jewish Studies should see Jewish Studies.

Major Advisors

Consult the Program office.

The major requirements below are in addition to meeting University Degree Requirements & College Degree Requirements; unless otherwise noted. The minimum number of units required for the Religious Studies Bachelor of Arts is 60.

Preparatory Subject Matter
(A) Choose one from the RST 001 series:4
Survey of Religion (Discontinued)
Death & Afterlife
Conversion (Discontinued)
Religion Today
Myth, Ritual, & Symbolism
Sex, Marriage, & Divorce in Medieval & Modern Society
Music, Voice, & the Word
(B) Choose four from other lower division RST offerings:16
Comparative Religion
Introduction to Health Sciences & the Humanities
Healthcare & Religious Ethics
Contemporary Ethical Issues
Contemporary Ethical Issues
Ethical Eating
Emergence of Judaism, Christianity & Islam
Reading War/Fighting War
The Bible & Its Interpreters
Introduction to Judaism
Religions of South Asia
Introduction to Jainism
History of Yoga
Magic & Demons in South Asia
New Testament
Religion & Science Fiction
Introduction to Islam
The Qur'an & Its Interpretation
The Song of God: The Bhagavad Gita
Modern Hinduism
Introduction to Hinduism
Introduction to Hindu Mythology
Religion & Language
Introduction to Chinese Philosophy
Religion, Gender, Sexuality
Preparatory Subject Matter Subtotal20
Depth Subject Matter
RST 100Study of Religion: Issues & Methods4
or RST 190 Seminar
Choose nine upper division RST courses. Four of these courses may be upper division courses related to religion that are offered by other departments and taken with the approval of a Religious Studies advisor:36
Christian Origins
Medieval & Byzantine Christianity
Christianity 1450-1700
Christianity & Modernity, 1700-1920
Christianity in the Contemporary World
Life, Meaning & Identity
Persuasion & Conviction in Religious Tradition
Religion, Magic & Science
Studies in Biblical Texts
Sex & Gender in the Bible
Topics in Judaism
Dead Sea Scrolls, Apocrypha, & Pseudepigrapha
The Formation of the Rabbinic Tradition
Topics in Religious Studies
Topics in Mediterranean Ancient Religion
The Bible & Film
Topics in Jainism
Topics in Buddhism
Topics in Hinduism
Christian Theology
New Testament Literature: Synoptic Gospels
New Testament Literature: John
New Testament Literature: Paul
New Testament Apocrypha
History of the Bible
Contemporary American Religion
Religious Ethics
Justice, Equity, & Privacy in Medical Humanities
The Hindu Temple
Bhakti: Indian Devotional Traditions to 1200 CE
Bhakti: Indian Devotional Traditions, 1200 CE to Present
Religion & the Performing Arts in India
Hindu Women & Goddesses
The Ramayana
The Mahabharata
Introduction to Islamic Thought
Modern Islam
Modern Islam: Authority & Tradition In Process
Introduction to Islamic Law
Social Life of Islam
Islam in Asia
Religion & Media in the Arab World
Topics in Islam
Buddhist Art
Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism
Daoist Traditions
Popular Religious Art in India
Hindu Gods & Hindu Symbols
Ramayana, Religion, & the Arts
Senior Colloquium
Depth Subject Matter Subtotal40
Total Units60