Course Requirements

Course Requirements

The Religious Studies Major consists of 30 credit hours in approved Religious Studies courses.

Specific requirements include:

1.  [3 credits] RELG 101: Introduction to World Religions

2.  [3 credits] RELG 102: Introduction to the Study of Religion

3.  [3 credits] One course from among the following list:

RELG 103: The Abrahamic Religions

RELG 117: Introduction to Christian Theology

RELG 201: Judaism

RELG 206: Christian Beginnings

RELG 210: Islam

RELG 252: Religion and Politics in Islam

RELG 253: Muhammad and the Qur’an

3.  [3 credits] One course from among the following list:

RELG 251: Native American Religions

RELG 283: Hinduism

RELG 284: Buddhism

RELG 383: Yoga in Theory, History, and Contemporary Society

RELG 384: Death and Rebirth in Tibetan Buddhism

4.  [15 credits] Four additional courses which must be at the 300- or 400 level, of which two must be Religious Studies courses. PHIL 301 (Medieval Philosophy), CPRD 304 (Contemplative Practice II) and ANTH 318 (Anthropology of Religion) may be included in the four courses of this category. Students who wish to be considered eligible for Honors in Religious Studies must successfully complete RELG 401 as one of their upper-level courses.

5.  [6 credits] Two additional courses in Religious Studies at any level.  You may also count here CPRD 104 (Meditation and Contemplative Practices) and CPRD 299 (Mysterium Humanum).

Undergraduate Research

The Program in Religious Studies values undergraduate research and has designed its curriculum towards that end.  Most upper level Religious Studies courses involve individual research topics chosen by the student.  Research abilities developed in these courses lead into the program’s senior capstone course, RELG 401 – Guided Research (see below).  RELG 401 offers senior Religious Studies majors the opportunity to use the skills acquired in their studies in the research and writing of a thesis on a topic of their choice under the guidance of an individual faculty member.

In addition, individual research efforts can be arranged either through Individual Study (RELG 491/492) or the undergraduate research course option URES 197. In the former students conduct research on topics of their choosing in consultation with individual faculty members. In the second option, the student works on a faculty member’s research project and completes research tasks connected with that project as determined by the faculty member. These courses are set up individually with faculty members.

Guided Research in Religious Studies: RELG 401

The Religious Studies Program’s capstone course, required of those majors who wish to be considered for Honors in Religious Studies, may be taken in the Fall or Spring semester of the senior year. Students select topics in Religious Studies that they wish to explore and the professor with whom they wish to work. Students are encouraged to choose topics on which they have already worked in other other courses so as to facilitate their research efforts. Research proceeds in consultation with the student’s chosen adviser.

The research culminates in the production of a 25 to 30 page paper, if the student wishes to be considered for departmental honors. If students prefer not to pursue that option, they may work in consultation with the research advisor to determine either an inter-related set of papers or a digital or multimedia project. At the end of the semester, all students who have been enrolled in 401 gather to share their research with their fellow students, the Religious Studies faculty, and invited guests.


Religions emerge and develop within a language-specific culture.  As a result, in-depth study of a particular religion requires the acquisition of the language(s) in which the religion’s traditions appear.  While there is no language requirement specific to the Religious Studies major, students interested in preparing for graduate study in certain areas are encouraged to begin acquiring the necessary languages.  Because all students at the University of Mary Washington must meet a language requirement as part of their General Education requirements, many students complete this requirement by studying languages that are also important to the study of religions. Greek and Latin are available within the department through its Classics Program.  In addition, various Religious Studies faculty have expertise in Farsi, Quranic Arabic, and Sanskrit, all of which have been taught in the past.