The Undergraduate Program

Why study religion?

In recent years it has become increasingly clear – for reasons good and bad – that religions have a tremendous impact on the ways in which people live their lives. To understand the modern world, one cannot overlook the significance of religion.

The academic study of religion provides students with an excellent cross-cultural grounding in the humanities and social sciences. The study of religion is a challenging and personally rewarding area for those preparing for any number of careers, including law, journalism, social work, government, education, or professional service in religious institutions. Students of international relations and foreign affairs frequently find a major or a minor concentration in religion particularly helpful for better understanding many of the longstanding ideological conflicts that affect contemporary events. Students in the natural sciences frequently find a minor concentration in religion appealing given the moral complexity of current technological advances in the medical and health services.

For more information about the virtues of religious studies, consult, maintained by the American Academy of Religion.

What religions can I learn about?

The Department of Religion offers, through its lower-level courses, opportunities for broad-based study of many religious traditions including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and the religions of Africa, China, and Japan. Through its upper-level courses, the Department offers opportunities for in-depth study of specific religious traditions and literatures as well as grounding in theoretical and philosophical problems relating to the study of religion. The major and minor concentrations are structured to encourage students to take advantage of the breadth of offerings within the Department.

Who are the faculty?

The Department of Religion consists of a broad and diverse faculty of distinguished experts in various religions, eastern and western, ancient and modern. We also apply a broad array of disciplinary methods to the study of religion: Our faculty includes anthropologists, historians, literary scholars, and philosophers – all devoted to understanding the impact that religion has had and continues to have in human society. For more information, please visit our Faculty page.

How can I find out more?

We take pride in offering our students personalized advising. For more information on our courses, you should feel free to contact any departmental professor in your field of interest. For general information on concentrating in our Department (as a major or as a minor) please visit our admissions page, or contact Meredith Rippert, the Administrative Coordinator, via email at or by phone at 617-353-2636.