BA in Anthropology & Religion

This joint major offers the student numerous ways to understand how religion works as a dynamic aspect of culture, and how individuals interact with their social environments to create systems of belief and ritual in their efforts to make sense of the world.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will learn about the concept of religious worldview and debates regarding human beings as fundamentally religious.
  2. Students will develop an appreciation for the varieties of religious belief, expression, experience, and practice.
  3. Students will understand the regional themes and diversity in religious traditions and behavior.
  4. Students will master the fundamental religious themes in at least one society other than their own, and the relationship of those themes to the dynamics of social organization.
  5. Students will understand the ways in which religious belief and practice both canalize and reflect economic and political forces within and between communities.
  6. Students will understand the historical development of anthropological thought about religion, and the relationship of that thought to theorists outside of the discipline who have been influential in the study of religion.
  7. Students will understand the relationship of religion to social and ethnic identity in both simple and complex societies.


All students entering as freshmen in Fall 2018 and after will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, a general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements are flexible and can be satisfied in many different ways, through coursework in and beyond the major (or minor) and, in some cases, through co-curricular activities. Students majoring in Anthropology & Religion will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy most BU Hub requirements in Philosophical, Aesthetic, and Historical Interpretation; Scientific and Social Inquiry; Communication; Diversity, Civic Engagement, and Global Citizenship; and the Intellectual Toolkit. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major or, in some cases, co-curricular experiences.

Six courses in religion and six courses in anthropology are required with a grade of C or higher, as specified below. Those 12 courses must include Anthropology of Religion (taken either as CAS AN 384 or as CAS RN 387, but not both). Candidates for the BA with this joint major may not pursue a second major in religion or anthropology. They are, however, encouraged to take courses beyond the required 12 in either or both disciplines. To ensure the most suitable course of study for the prospective student’s areas of interest, courses should be selected in consultation with the program advisor. For further information about the joint program, contact the program advisor or either department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies.

All required courses listed below are 4 credit hours.


Students are required to take:

  • CAS AN 101 Introduction to Cultural Anthropology or CAS AN 103 Anthropology Through Ethnography
  • CAS AN 252 Ethnicity and Identity
  • CAS AN 384/RN 387 Anthropology of Religion
  • CAS AN 461 Ethnography and Anthropological Theory 1
  • Two social anthropology courses at the 300 level or above from an annually approved list for the major

Refer to the department’s Anthropology & Religion website for updated approved courses.


Students are required to take:

  • CAS RN 103 Religions Asia or CAS RN 104 Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
  • CAS RN 200 Theoretical Approaches to the Study of Religion
  • One religion course at the 200 level from CAS RN 209–219
  • Three additional religion courses, numbered CAS RN 220 or higher, from an annually approved list for the major

Refer to the department’s Anthropology & Religion website for updated approved courses.