Major in Religious Studies


The departmental major consists of 12 courses in the department:

  • Religion 170 (or 171): Introduction to Religion
    • Required of all majors and minors as a foundational or “gateway” course to be taken as early as possible in the course of study. There are no substitutions for this course, so please plan ahead.
  • Religion 395: Theories of Religion
    • A capstone course designed for senior majors or well-advanced juniors
  • Ten other religion courses
    • Of these 10 courses, at least 5 must be at the 300 or 400 level
  • Religion 396-1,2
    • Senior Thesis Seminar (not required for major, but precondition for departmental honors)
      In the fall and winter terms of the senior year, majors may enroll for 396-1,2 and will write a senior thesis of approximately 30-50 pages. Students who wish to take 396-1,2 must take these courses in addition to the 12 courses normally required for the major.

Course Substitutions

Students may substitute as many as 2 courses on religion from outside the department. These must be taken from the list of approved courses below, or with approval from the departmental Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor Mira Balberg [], Crowe Hall 4-141, 1860 Campus Drive.

  • Anthro 350: Anthropology of Religion
  • Hist 270: Islam in History
  • Hist 355: Islam in Africa
  • Hist 371: Islamic Institutions
  • Hist 374: Historical Background of Jewish-Muslim Relations
  • Phil 266: Philosophy of Religion
  • Soc 314: Sociology of Religion and Ideology

To propose another course for substitution approval, please submit a course description and syllabus, accompanied by a written request, to Professor Sarah Taylor at her departmental box [Religious Studies office, 5th Floor, Crowe Hall].

Double Counting Rules

Many courses offered at Northwestern fit more than one requirement. In some situations, a Weinberg student taking such a course can count it toward multiple requirements; in other situations, such “double-counting” is not allowed.

The Registrar's website provides a useful summary of Weinberg College double-counting rules for specific majors and minors.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Who is my adviser for the Major?

A: Professor Mira Balberg, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Crowe Hall 4-137, 1860 Campus Drive,

Q: How do I declare a major?

A: To declare a major in Religious Studies, simply pick up a “Declare a Major” form from WCAS (or appropriate school), or you can get one from our own Religious Studies Department (5th floor, Crowe Hall). Please fill out the form completely and then either drop it off at our departmental office for the DUS to sign, or come in person to the DUS’s office hours (consult department web site for hours). When the form has been signed, please come pick it up and walk it over to WCAS (or other appropriate school administrative office) to file. Our DA and our DUS cannot file these forms for you. The student must actually file it for it to register properly.

Q: How do I petition to graduate?

A: To petition to graduate, simply download and print out the Petition to Graduate Form from the Registrar’s web page.

Once you have printed out the form, please fill it out completely, double-checking to see that you have met all the departmental requirements, and/or have listed the requirements that still need to be completed. [This is a good time to use your nifty Religious Studies “Scorecard.” See link above.]

Then simply either leave the form in the DUS box in the Religious Studies office for the DUS to review and sign, or come to the DUS’s office hours (consult department web site for hours) for her to review and sign your form. Once the form is signed, you will need to walk it over to the appropriate administrative office and file it.

Q: I am studying abroad next term. How do I get my study abroad approval forms signed?

A: Submit your particular Study Abroad Program’s description and a list for the courses your will be taking, along with the Study Abroad Permission Form to the DUS. Make sure you fill out the form completely before submitting it to the DUS. The DUS will review, sign, and approve the form, as long as there are no problems or outstanding issues.

Q. I have just returned from study abroad and need course credit/substitution credit/degree credit for the courses I took abroad. What do I do?

A: In an envelope, submit a copy of your syllabus, a transcript that states your grade in the course, and a copy of any final paper or exam you had in the course. Include the form for substitution or credit approval for me to sign. Also include a post-it or other note that briefly lets the DUS know what you need done. Within a week, the DUS will review these materials and sign, or request a meeting with you for further discussion.

Q: I am a NCAA athlete, how do I get my NCAA forms signed?

A: Consult your coach or coach’s assistant at the start of the season and then mark your NCAA deadlines clearly in your calendar. Allowing at least 1-2 weeks before your deadline, please submit your NCAA form or forms to the DUS for signature and approval. The turnaround on this is usually very quick, but your ability to play is contingent on this, so please plan ahead and do not leave it to the last moment. Pick up your signed form and then file it with the appropriate office.

Q. I am interested in the Honors Program in Religious Studies. What does this entail? And how do I go about doing it?

A: In short, it entails writing a 30-35-page thesis and taking Religion 396 1, 2, the Senior Honors two-quarter seminar.

Senior Thesis and Honors Program Requirements