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Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Religious Studies

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Department of Religious Studies

Undergraduate Degrees

The University of Denver's undergraduate religious studies program offers you the opportunity to study religion in ways that you won't find at other universities—as a major, a double major (for students pursuing BA programs) or a minor.

  • You'll learn about many of the major religious traditions of the world.
  • You'll investigate how theories of religion can help you interpret the religious phenomena that you see around you.
  • You'll learn about religion by experiencing it, for instance by going on class visits to religious institutions in Denver and by doing projects in local religious communities.
  • You'll take a special service-learning course, where you'll see up close why many religions emphasize the value of service to others.
  • Finally, you'll learn what it means to do independent research in religious studies while developing excellent writing skills.

The religious studies major and double major require 40 credit hours, or 10, four-credit-hour courses.

The religious studies minor requires 20 credit hours, or five, four-credit-hour courses.

Program Overview

Both the major and minor in religious studies begin with a solid foundation of religious traditions courses. Majors select four of the following (minors select three):

  1. Buddhism (RLGS 3820)
  2. Christianity (RLGS 3203 or 3204)
  3. Hinduism (RLGS 3814 or 3816)
  4. Islam (RLGS 3500)
  5. Judaism (RLGS 3001 or RLGS 3701 Early Judaism)

These courses introduce you to the histories, texts and practices of particular religions, and lay the groundwork for your study of more specialized topics, such as Qur'an and Hadith, Christian classics, and theory courses.

Traditions courses highlights

One highlight of the traditions courses is that you'll learn to read and interpret scripture and other primary texts. Equally important, these courses include an experiential learning component that takes you out of the classroom and into the local community, where you'll visit churches, mosques, synagogues and temples, and meet religious practitioners. Such experiences are meant to complement and enrich your classroom learning.

Additional courses for majors

Religious studies majors also take Communities of Faith (RLGS 3891), Religion and Race in America (RLGS 3641), or Grant Writing for Research and Community Engagement (RLGS 3892). Each is a unique service-learning course designed just for our majors, which includes providing 20 hours of needed volunteer service at a local organization.

By participating in the life of a religious community or local non-profit, you'll discover why service is such an important concept and practice in many traditions. Back in the classroom, you'll have the opportunity to reflect critically on your experience in light of readings and discussions on religious meanings of service.

Once you've been introduced to some of the world's religions, you'll be ready to take more advanced courses.

Majors and double majors will choose one writing-intensive course, such as Islamic Fundamentalism(s), in which writing—both informal/ungraded and formal/graded—is used as an important mode of learning.

Majors and double majors will select two courses on theories of religion, such as Great Religious Thinkers and Psychology of Religion. Minors take one theory course.

Here you'll learn how different scholars and religious practitioners interpret religion and how every interpretive lens shapes the way we understand religion. In theory courses, you'll also learn to develop 10- to 15-page research papers, a crucial part of your undergraduate training.

Majors also take at least two elective courses in religious studies, such as: the Dead Sea Scrolls; Sufism; Jesus on the Silver Screen; Islam in the United States; Buddhism in the United States; or Religious Diversity in Israel.

Study Abroad and Internship Options

The Department of Religious Studies strongly encourages students to study abroad while at DU. Through DU's Cherrington Scholars Program, students with junior standing may study abroad for a quarter at one of the many international programs that offer religion courses.

Study abroad courses taken for major or minor credit must be approved in advance by the religious studies undergraduate adviser, Professor Andrea L. Stanton.

Finally, we are developing an internship option for majors and double majors in their junior and senior years. For more information, please visit our internship page. We anticipate offering the for-credit internship option starting in winter 2013, and are happy to speak with students about non-credit internship options at any time.

Distinction in the Major

The Department of Religious Studies encourages majors with a 3.75 major GPA and 3.5 overall GPA to consider pursuing distinction in the major, which involves developing a senior-year course plan and final project in consultation with a faculty adviser. To learn more about distinction in the religious studies major, please contact Professor Andrea L. Stanton.

RLGS Undergraduate Program at a Glance

Major/Double major: 4 traditions courses, 2 theory courses, 1 service-learning course, 1 writing-intensive course, 2 electives.

Minor: 3 traditions courses, 1 theory course, 1 elective.

Download a copy of our major/double-major/minor program overview (PDF).

The Liberal Arts Advantage

Religious studies falls within the great liberal arts tradition—a tradition that DU's Divisions of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences continues into the 21st century. Explore the DU Liberal Arts Advantage page, where you can research funding, internships, mentoring and career services.

Study Abroad Course Credit

Are you planning to study abroad and hoping to have one or more of your courses approved for RLGS credit? Please contact Professor Andrea Stanton, and provide the course title, number of credit hours, description, and syllabus.

(Please note that courses can only be approved for AI-Society and Culture credit if they match an existing course. All other courses can be approved for elective credit ONLY.)