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Major in Religious Studies

The academic study of religion provides the student with the methodological orientation necessary to comprehend the central beliefs, ethical practices, ritual systems, and social institutions of diverse religious traditions in their historic, contemporary and global contexts. Study in this field is multicultural and comparative, examining the patterns of life and moral worlds of societies past and present, our own as well as others. The student learns to probe for the structure, function and meaning of religion through those rites of passage, sacred narratives, faith communities, and codes of behavior that give meaning to human existence.

For more on the value of a religious studies major, see: Why Study Religion?


The major in religious studies (reference number 769) requires a minimum of 31 semester hours and leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree. At least 16 hours must be in courses numbered 300 or above, with at least 4 hours at the 400-level. A minor or second major is required. Note that most of the courses for the major also count toward WKU's Colonnade general education requirements, as noted (in square brackets) on the list below.

The courses required are distributed as follows:

I. World Religions (3 hrs)
RELS 102:  World Religions [Colonnade: Explorations, Arts & Humanities]
II. Religious Traditions (9 hrs)
RELS 304:  Judaism
RELS 305:  Christianity [Colonnade: Connections, Social & Cultural]
RELS 306:  Islam [Colonnade: Connections, Local to Global]
RELS 302:  Buddhism [Colonnade: Connections, Local to Global]
RELS 303:  Hinduism
RELS 317:  Confucianism [Colonnade: Connections, Systems]
RELS 318:  Daoism [Colonnade: Connections, Social & Cultural]
III. Comparative Approaches to the Study of Religion (3 hrs)
RELS 103:  Religions of Asia
RELS 200:  World Religious Literature [Colonnade: Foundations, Literary Studies]
RELS 222:  Christians, Jews, & Pagans [Colonnade: Connections, Social & Cultural]
RELS 242:  Meanings of Life: Atheism to Zen [Colonnade: Connections, Local to Global]
RELS 308:  East Asian Religious Traditions
RELS 320:  Religions of the Middle East
RELS 333:  Women & Religion [Colonnade: Connections, Social & Cultural]
RELS 341:  Religion and Ecology [Colonnade: Connections, Local to Global]
IV. Electives (15 hrs)
At least 9 hrs must be in RELS. These can include any of the courses listed above, if students take more courses than are required in a given category. Other frequently taught RELS electives include the following:
RELS 100: The New Testament [Colonnade: Explorations, Arts & Humanities]
RELS 101: The Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures [Colonnade: Explorations, Arts & Humanities]
RELS 154: Introductory Greek [Colonnade: Language Requirement]
RELS 155: Intermediate Greek [Colonnade: Language Requirement]
RELS 211: Jesus in Film [Colonnade: Connections, Social & Cultural]
RELS 300: Life of Jesus
RELS 309: Global Christianity [Colonnade: Connections, Local to Global]
RELS 315: Philosophy of Religion (cross-listed with/equivalent to PHIL 315)
RELS 322: Pilgrimage, Islam & Modernity [Colonnade: Connections, Local to Global]
RELS 323: Social Ethics (equivalent to PHIL 323) [Colonnade: Connections, Social & Cultural]
RELS 331: Islam in America [Colonnade: Connections, Social & Cultural]
RELS 340: Pop Culture & Religion in the Marketplace [Colonnade: Connections, Local to Global]
RELS 455: Saints, Monsters & Superheroes [Colonnade: Connections, Local to Global]
RELS 499: Independent Research in Religious Studies
Students may also take up to 6 hrs from the following list or any study-abroad and/or language courses (up to one yr) approved by the dept head:
ANTH 446:  Anthropology of Religion
ART 316:  Medieval Art & Architecture
ART 407:  Islamic Art & Architecture
ENG 396:  Mythology
ENG 487:  Dante
HIST 318:  Age of Reformation
HIST 407:  The Crusades
HIST 454:  Religion in America
PHIL 343:  Medieval Philosophy
PSY 485:  Psychology of Religion
SOC 322:  Sociology of Religion 
V. Senior Seminar (1 hr)
RELS 496:  Senior Seminar 

See the Four-Year Plan in Religious Studies for suggestions on when to take the courses needed to graduate with a Religious Studies major.

Advisor: David Serafini (david.serafini@wku.edu)

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 Last Modified 12/7/23