Religious Studies

Religion plays a crucial role in human experience and society.  It influences individual lives, art, literature, politics, and indeed, every aspect of culture.  The discipline’s broad scope makes the study of religion inherently interdisciplinary.  As such the major is meaningfully connected to most other disciplines and can be a valuable major or double-major for a range of professional interests.
Department of Classics, Philosophy, & Religion at UMW
Department of Classics, Philosophy, & Religion at UMW

The Program in Religion aims neither to promote nor undermine any specific religion or belief.   As an academic discipline, it seeks to understand religion by studying it outside of the framework of any particular system of belief.  Courses are designed to acquaint students with the world’s major religious traditions, texts, and figures.  Students explore the historical and cultural impact of religion in such areas of literature, scripture formation, law, politics, and ethics.  In the process, they gain appreciation for diversity and develop the ability to discuss religion with critical discernment.  The Program in Religion fosters personal attention.  The major offers a high degree of flexibility, and individual interests are encouraged.

While some Religion majors continue in graduate school intent on careers in teaching and research, the large majority use the tools developed in the major (clear critical thinking, persuasive writing, oral communication, and research skills) to develop careers in diverse fields, including public relations, journalism, business, teaching, service organizations, and the arts.  Others have gone on to graduate programs in library science, law, social work, and the ministry.


Professor Mehdi Aminrazavi

Kurt F. Leidecker Co-Chair of Asian Studies
Islamic Studies, Medieval Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, World Religions

Professor Mary Beth Mathews

American and European Religious History, Christian Fundamentalism, and African American Religions

Assistant Professor Jennifer Barry

Early Christianity, Late Antiquity, Women’s and Gender Studies

Assistant Professor Daniel Hirshberg

Tibetan Buddhism, Contemplative Studies, Asian Religions, History of Religion, Hagiography