Major Requirements


A total of ten courses (40 units) in the department of Religious Studies are required for the major. Majors are required to take the following two required courses and an additional 32 units of RELS electives.

  • RELS 250 Critical Approaches to the Study of Religion (4 units), to be completed by the Spring of the Junior year, offered every Spring semester and
  • RELS 490 Senior Seminar (4 units), to be taken in the Fall semester of the Senior year

The flexibility of the major enables students to pursue a curriculum customized to their individual interests. Some RELS majors opt for a program that is broadly conceived, seeking exposure to a variety of religious traditions and studying religion through a variety of methodologies. Other students choose to specialize in one religious tradition, or in one approach to the study of religion. Other students prefer our interdisciplinary major (see below), which enables them to pair RELS courses with courses in another department, discipline, or area of specialization. All students in the department work collaboratively with their advisor to devise a personalized curriculum that matches their intellectual interests and goals.

We strongly encourage majors to take courses in other disciplines – such as art history, music, politics, literature, and history – that will enrich their understanding of how religion is conceived, articulated, and practiced.

We also strongly encourage RELS students to engage in sustained language study that will inform their coursework and comps research in the department.

Finally, we strongly encourage students in the department to participate in international programs, especially in locations where they have the opportunity to study religion in situ. Students planning to study abroad should be aware that RELS 250, which should be completed by the end of the Junior year, is only offered in the Spring semester. So, if they have not completed the course in the Sophomore year and they wish to study abroad, they should do so in the Fall semester of their Junior year.

When appropriate, one course from another department or from an international program may be applied toward the major.