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Religious Studies

College of Liberal Arts

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Religious Studies - RST Programs

Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies (code R/STBA01) (120 units)

The department of Religious Studies educates students in the scholarly interpretation of religion. Students develop a critical and appreciative understanding of the complexity of religions and their importance in human life; the academic study of religion thus makes an invaluable contribution to historical and cultural literacy. The elements and forms of religion – texts and institutions, stories, moral values, symbols, ritual, doctrine, etc. – are studied in their cultural and historical contexts with sensitivity and intellectual precision. Students are introduced to the major religious traditions and to religion in the modern world. Religious Studies is interdisciplinary, relating world religions and the religious dimension of human life to both the humanities and the social sciences. Students interested in a degree program should apply to the department chair.


A minimum of 36 units is required, distributed in the following way:

Core Courses: R/ST 401 and 6 units from the following: R/ST 100, 102, and 103.

Area Courses: 21 units selected from at least two of the following three categories.

  1. Western Religions: R/ST 210, 230, 311, 312I, 314, 315, 317, 322, 331I, 337I, 338I, 375, 376I, 383I, 460, 467I, 471I, 472I, 490*, 499*
  2. Eastern Religions: R/ST 341I, 344, 351, 352, 353I, 490*, 499*
  3. Religion in the Contemporary World: R/ST 202, 240, 301, 302I, 308, 362I, 383I, 391I, 425, 472I, 482I, 485, 490*, 499*
  • *When the subject matter of a special topics or directed studies course is applicable, the course may be used. Electives: 6 units selected from religious studies courses, including language courses (Aramaic, Hebrew, or Sanskrit), or AIS 335, CWL 342, PHIL 306, 307, 330

Minor in Religious Studies (code R/STUM01)

The Minor in Religious Studies is available to any non-Religious Studies major.

A minimum of 21 units in religious studies courses or courses from other departments approved by the Religious Studies Department.

Lower Division: A minimum of six units selected from R/ST 100, 102, 103, 202, 210, or the equivalent.

Upper Division: A minimum of 15 units including three units from each of the following groups:

  • A. Western Religious Thought: R/ST 311, 312I, 314, 315, 322, 331I, 375, 376I, 425, 471I, 472I;
  • B. Asian Religious Thought: R/ST 341I, 344, 351, 353I. Remaining units are to be selected from R/ST courses and the following electives: AIS 335, AFRS 353, CWL 342, HIST 333, PHIL 330.

Certificate in Religious Studies (code R/STCT01)


A bachelor’s degree with a major in a traditional discipline.

*A minimum of 30 units in religious studies or courses offered in other departments approved by the Religious Studies Department.

Lower Division: A minimum of nine units selected from R/ST 100, 102, 103, 202 or 210.

Upper Division: A minimum of 21 units including one course from each of the following: (a) Biblical Studies: R/ST 311, 312I, 322, 375, 376I; (b) Western Religious Thought: R/ST 314, 315, 331I, 471I, 472I, 485; (c) Asian Religious Thought: R/ST 341I, 344, 351, 353I. A minimum of twelve upper division units from the preceding courses and the following electives: R/ST 302I, 353I, 362I, 383I, 482I, 490, 499; AIS 335; ASAM 380; AFRS 353; CWL 342; HIST 333; PHIL 330.

Master of Arts in Religious Studies (code R/STMA01)


The primary criteria for admission are the same as those for University graduate admission. In addition, the applicant must have a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies, or its equivalent, and have achieved a 3.0 GPA in the last 60 semester units attempted. Two letters of recommendation from instructors in the undergraduate major should be included.

Program Requirements

1. Minimum total units: 30 units of upper division or graduate study, at least 24 of which must be in Religious Studies. The remaining six may be in Religious Studies or another field of study related to Religious Studies and/or the candidate’s educational interests. Each student’s program must include a minimum of 18 units of graduate courses, at least six of which must be in the 600 series (not including R/ST 697 and 698). All students must satisfactorily complete R/ST 501.

2. A thesis or comprehensive examination.

3. Proficiency in a modern research language (German or French) demonstrated by passing either the ETS examination with a score of 400 or better or two years of course work with an average grade of "B" or better. Proficiency in an appropriate ancient research language (Sanskrit, Biblical Aramaic, Hebrew, Chinese, etc.) replaces this requirement for students concentrating in Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Religions or in Buddhist Studies. Exceptions to this requirement, especially for students not planning to pursue further graduate degrees, can be made at the discretion of the Graduate Studies Committee.

4. Advancement to Candidacy is a statement of how the student plans to complete all courses and requirements for the degree, including establishing a date and a committee for the thesis or comprehensive examination. It is best done as early as possible. Students taking a comprehensive examination must be advanced to candidacy no later than the semester preceding the examination. Students writing a thesis are advanced to candidacy at the time they begin their thesis work.