The Religion Major
To major in religion is to ask questions about the many ways women and men have sought to make sense of their lives. Examining religious traditions—their notable leaders, their valued texts, and the social behaviors designed to embody their visions—is a central way to study the profound questions that direct so many areas of human endeavor. The study of religion is an excellent way of organizing a liberal arts education so that diverse cultures, artistic expressions, political forces, and gender assignments can be questioned and set in historical and changing contexts.
Our courses focus on sacred texts and interpretive traditions; religious thought; and religion in history and society. The study of religion is inherently comparative, international, and interdisciplinary in approach, embracing a range of methodologies from the humanities and social sciences.
Requirements for the Major
• A minimum of 32 credits
• 12 credits at the 300 level
• Only one 395 course will count towardthe 300-level requirement.
• The Religion Major does not have a prescribed sequence of required courses. Students choose their course of study in close consultation with their advisors.
• Majors must take courses in at least three different religious traditions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, or Judaism. This requirement may be fulfilled by courses at any level and by courses that take a comparative approach.
• Independent work is encouraged and, if approved by the advisor, such work may constitute partial fulfillment of the major requirements.
• Courses with a substantial focus on a religious tradition or a religious theme offered by other departments may be counted towards the Religion major with approval of the advisor and department chair.Examples of such courses include:
Class 211 Gods and Mortals: Ancient Greek and Roman Myth
Class 260 Knowing God
Engl 312 Shakespeare: Religion, Magic, and the
Hist 222 Muslim Politics in Modern South Asia
Hist 223 Religion and Politics in Modern India
Hist 235 Native American History through 1865
IntRel 324 Islamic Political Thought
IntRel 333 Just War and Jihad: Comparative Ethics of
War and Peace
IntRel 343 Law and Religion
Please note that this list is not comprehensive. Additional courses should be identified in consultation with the advisor or department chair.
• One extra-departmental course on relevant methodological or theoretical approaches may be counted towards the major with permission of the advisor. Such a course may be of particular value for students planning to do independent research.
Examples of such courses include:
Anthropology 275 Research Methods in Cultural
Sociology 225 Survey Research and Data Analysis
Gender Studies 201 Methods and Practices in Feminist
Please note that such courses may have prerequisites set by the home department or require the permission of the instructor.
Majors can track their own progress towards meeting department requirements with this checklist.
Requirements for the Minor
• A minimum of 20 credits (five courses)
• At least one of the five must be at the 300 level
• At least three of the courses should be taken in the Mount Holyoke Department of Religion