As a major, religious studies examines the nature of religious beliefs, traditions, and ideas. It seeks to discover how religion evolves, affects culture and society, and influences human behavior. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, students in this major will study religion through academic subjects like history, anthropology, sociology, and psychology.
Religious studies differ from similar majors like pastoral studies, youth ministries, or biblical studies, in that instead of focusing on one religion, students gain a solid understanding of various world religions like Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. Students are exposed to the philosophy of religion as they explore arguments regarding the existence of God, life after death, and religious pluralism.
Curriculum in a religious studies program addresses topics like new religious movement, religion and moral issues, religion and politics, religious cults, religion and society, religious traditions of the world, and interpretations of religion. Course work involves a considerable amount of research, reading, writing, and discussion as students read theological and religious literature, such as the Old and New Testament, Quran, sacred texts, and more. Some courses may examine controversial topics in religion like Darwinism, reproductive technologies, and gender roles, just to name a few.
Religious studies majors develop strong critical and constructive thinking abilities, are able to interpret and evaluate complicated readings, and learn how to logically present ideas both orally and in writing. These skills along with a broad knowledge of all religions, prepares students for careers in areas such as law, business, public and political service, and education, as well as advanced study at graduate school or seminary.