Northwestern’s Department of Religious Studies offers undergraduates the opportunity to pursue the study of religions as historical and cultural phenomena. This includes the scholarly exploration of religious traditions, histories, cultures, beliefs, practices, sacred texts, sacred stories, and material productions from around the world in their institutional as well as non-institutional (“on the ground”) forms. Our approach to this study is fundamentally multidisciplinary, drawing from a variety of fields and critical perspectives: anthropology, history, philosophy, ethics, sociology, literary and cultural studies, among others.
We offer a wide variety of undergraduate courses ranging from large introductory classes to advanced seminars, as well as independent studies and an honors thesis program for qualified students. Our courses cover aspects of Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Native American religions, New Religious Movements, and religion and culture in America.
Many students complete double majors and combine religious studies with history, anthropology, political science, philosophy, art, or a “Pre-med” curriculum. In addition, the department offers a Minor in Jewish Studies and a Minor in Catholic Studies. Undergraduate majors may work towards the honors distinction, and there are several departmental awards given each spring for outstanding achievement. Many majors go on to do graduate work in religion, while others entering various professions find that the interpretive, writing, and problem solving skills they learned studying religion enhance their preparation for any number of career paths.
To view requirements for the Religious Studies Major and instructions on how to declare a major, see Religious Studies Major.
To view requirements for the Religious Studies Minor and instructions on how to declare a minor, see Religious Studies Minor.