Majors & Minors in Religion

Major in Religion (1510A)

The major in religion allows students to explore religion and religious traditions from a variety of disciplinary and topical perspectives. Students will also 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 and, in some cases, through co-curricular activities. Students majoring in Religion will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Philosophical, Aesthetic, and Historical Interpretation; Diversity, Civic Engagement, and Global Citizenship; and most of the requirements in Communication 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.

Students majoring in Religion are required to complete 10 four-credit courses, which they are encouraged to choose with the help of their departmental advisor. Majors are encouraged to take courses that acquaint them both with comparative themes and with individual religious traditions

  1. Two 100-level RN courses. 
  2. CAS RN 200 Theoretical Approaches to the Study of Religion, ideally taken in the sophomore year or, if the major is declared later, as soon as possible thereafter. 
  3. Two additional 200-level RN courses. 
  4. Five courses at the 300-level or higher, one of which must be at the 400-level or above.

Students must earn a grade of C or higher in all courses for the major.

Core Curriculum and Related Courses 

Students entering Boston University in September 2015 and after who have successfully completed both CAS CC 101 (Core Humanities I: The Ancient World) and CC 102 (Core Humanities II: Antiquity and the Medieval World) may substitute these for one of the two required 100-level RN courses. Note that this policy applies only to CAS Core Humanities classes.

Students may, with the approval of their advisors, count toward the major a maximum of two related courses taken in other departments. 

Major in Anthropology and Religion (2219A)

For information about this joint major, see the description on the Department of Anthropology website.

Major in Classics and Religion (1546A)

For information about this joint major, see the description on the Department of Classics website.

Major in Philosophy and Religion (1520A)

For information about this joint major, see the description on the Department of Philosophy website.

BA/MA Major in Religion (1510A)

The BA/MA Major in Religion is a flexible program that can be designed to meet a broad range of intellectual and personal needs-including the needs of those students preparing for teaching careers in secondary education. The major consists of at least 18 courses (including CAS RN 495 for majors) completed with a grade of B or higher, 10 of which must be at the 500 level or above. Admission to the program is competitive and normally occurs at the beginning of the student’s junior year. Students considering the program should consult with an advisor as early as possible in order to formulate an appropriate plan of study. They should also meet with the departmental Director of Undergraduate Studies to discuss the application procedure. Please refer to Special Courses and Programs under College of Arts and Sciences on this site for general information about BA/MA programs.

Minor in Religion (1510B)

  • Effective fall 2021, five courses completed with a grade of C or higher:
    • One course at the 100 level
    • One course at the 200 level
    • Two courses at the 300 level or higher
    • One additional course at any level
  • In fulfilling these requirements, higher-level courses may not be substituted for lower-level courses.  Students are encouraged, but not required, to take CAS RN 200.
  • Students may, with the approval of their minor advisor in the Department of Religion, count toward the minor one course taken in another department.
  • Students who have successfully completed both CAS CC 101 (Core Humanities I: The Ancient World) and CC 102 (Core Humanities II: Antiquity and the Medieval World) may substitute these for the required 100 level course. Note that this policy applies only to CAS Core Humanities classes. We do not grant RN credit for Core classes taken in other schools.

Students may, with the approval of their advisors, count toward the minor a maximum of one related course taken in another department. Students who have completed CAS CC 101 and CC 102 and have applied these courses toward the required 100-level RN course will not normally be allowed to count any additional course from another department toward the minor.

Note that this policy applies only to CAS Core Humanities classes. We do not grant RN credit for CGS Core classes.

Religion in Science and Medicine Minor

Understanding the religious, cultural, and ethical aspects of science and medicine prepares students for the diversity of human perspectives and experiences they will encounter in their future careers, allowing them to understand their clients or patients more holistically. For more information, see here.

The minor requires five courses:

  • One of the following courses (but students are welcome to take both):
             o CAS RN 209 Religion, Health, and Medicine
             o CAS RN 242/HI 203 Magic, Science, and Religion 
  • At least three courses from the list below, one of which must be at the 300-level or above
  • An additional elective course. This course does not have to be an official RiSM course; it could be any course offered by Religion (e.g., RN100, RN103, RN105, RN200, RN214, RN296, etc).

Any of the following courses may count toward the minor. Other relevant courses may count with an advisor’s approval. 

CAS RN 106 Death and Immortality
CAS RN 209 Religion, Health, and Medicine
CAS RN 239 Religion and Science
CAS RN 242/CAS HI 203 Magic, Science, and Religion
CAS RN 246 Sex, Death, and the Buddha
CAS RN 248 Food and Religion
CAS RN 345 Shariah Law
CAS RN 356 Religion in the Digital Age
CAS RN 369 Science and Religion: Dialogue and Debate
CAS RN 450 Topics in Religion, Health, and Medicine
CAS RN 439 Jewish Bioethics and Holocaust Studies

Students should consult with their minor advisor to select a coherent program of courses that allows for both sufficient breadth and deeper investigation of selected themes, such as bioethical debates in various religious traditions, the intersections of religion and technology, or differing conceptions of personhood. Students may also take one relevant course in another department and have it count towards their minor, with the approval of their advisor in the Department of Religion.

Minor in Jewish Studies (1585B)

Jewish civilization originates in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Ancient Near East, where it interacted with the high urban civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Through a far-flung diaspora, centered on sacred traditions rooted in its place of origin, Jewish cultures have since flourished across the globe.

If you are interested in the academic study of Jewish history, culture, and religion you have the opportunity, in addition to taking elective courses, many of which fulfill general educational requirements (including language and Humanities/Social Sciences divisional studies requirements), of pursuing an inter-disciplinary minor in Jewish Studies, administered through the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies. Participating in this minor are faculty from a wide range of units and disciplines, including the CAS departments of Religion, History, and MLCL. Students can choose to concentrate in a particular field of Jewish Studies or seek a broad program of study.

For an initial advising appointment and to register with us, please contact Michael Zank, Director of the EWCJS, at 147 Bay State Road, Room 407, call 617.353.4434, or email mzank@bu.edu.

Requirements: Six courses are required, with a grade of C or higher, including CAS RN 216. Of the remaining five courses, no more than one can be at the 100-level, and no more than one at the 200-level. The remaining three courses should be taken at the 300-level or higher, with the exception that CAS LH courses numbered LH 250 or higher may be taken toward this 300-level requirement. The study of Hebrew is strongly encouraged. Students who choose to complete the CAS foreign language requirement using Hebrew may receive credit for CAS LH 212 toward the minor in Jewish Studies. Any student may count up to two courses in Hebrew language toward the minor, provided those courses are taken at the LH 212 level or higher.
An updated list of courses counting toward the minor in Jewish Studies can be found on the website of the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies.

Students enrolled in the Jewish Studies minor are encouraged to choose classes from within one of the following four curricular areas:

I. Sacred Texts and Interpretations

II. Language, Literature, and Film

III. History and Society

IV. Philosophy and Thought