The undergraduate degree in the Department of Religious Studies is a research, analysis, and writing intensive program that features close work with faculty in small classroom settings. It seeks to develop a foundational knowledge of the world’s diversity of religious cultures and critical awareness of the ways in which religion shapes how we see and act toward ourselves, others, and the environment around us. Through the study of specific religious traditions and settings, students come away with a background that is invaluable to understanding and working with people of other cultures, whether in international business or simply as an informed global citizen.

Career Opportunities

Religious studies majors and minors develop expertise and skills that serve them well wherever life takes them. Our graduates have been successful in many different areas. Studying religion provides a solid foundation for work in fields as diverse as journalism, law, politics, nongovernmental organizations, ministry, and education. No matter what their intended careers, students benefit from the critical reading, writing, and analytical skills that the academic study of religion instills.

Admission to the Major

Application Term

Semester in which major admission criteria will be completed, normally no later than 60 hours, or for transfer students, during the initial term at KU. Application to this major after completion of 60 hours, or the initial KU term for transfer students, will likely delay graduation.

Courses Required

  • Composition. Satisfied by ENGL 101 (unless the student has received a waiver or, for transfer students, an equivalent course).
  • Critical Reading and Writing. Satisfied by ENGL 102 or ENGL 105 (unless the student has received a waiver or, for transfer students, an equivalent course).
  • Introduction to Religion. Satisfied by REL 104.
  • Additional Religious Studies Course (Elective or Requirement). Satisfied by any course with REL prefix.

Grade-Point Average Requirements

Satisfied by a 2.30 minimum GPA in required admission courses designated above. University Course Repeat Policy will apply.

Religious Studies Program

The curriculum is organized into the basic areas of Western, Eastern, and North American religions, and method and theory in the study of religion. A core of courses provides broad exposure to the range of issues, perspectives, and methods in the study of religion. The program encourages interdepartmental and interdisciplinary cooperation as part of a comprehensive program. This cooperation is reflected at the undergraduate level in cross-listed and cross-referenced courses and in the design of the major.

Requirements for the B.A. or B.G.S. Major

The major consists of at least 27 hours in religious studies. 15 hours must be in courses numbered 300 and above, and 8 of these junior/senior hours must be completed in residence at KU. The 27 hours may include no more than 12 transfer hours, no more than 12 hours from study abroad, and no more than 15 hours in combination of the two.

Religious Studies Major Course Requirements

Religious Studies Core Knowledge and Skills (27)
Majors must complete a course in each of the following areas:
Introduction to Religion. Satisfied by:
REL 104Introduction to Religious Studies3
or REL 105 Introduction to Religious Studies, Honors
Understanding the Bible. Satisfied by:
REL 124Understanding the Bible3
or REL 125 Understanding the Bible, Honors
Overview of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. Satisfied by 1 course (3 hours) chosen from the following:3
Living Religions of the West
Living Religions of the West, Honors
Religion of Ancient Israel
History and Literature of Early Christianity
Introduction to Judaism
Studies in Judaism
Overview of Religious Tradition other than Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. Satisfied by 1 course (3 hours) chosen from the following:3
Living Religions of the East
Living Religions of the East, Honors
The Buddhist Tradition in Asia
Religion in India
Religion in China
Religion in Japan
Religion in Korea
Buddhists and Buddhism in China
Religion of North America. Satisfied by 1 course (3 hours) chosen from the following:3
Religion in American Society
Religion in American Society, Honors
Native American Religions
History of Religion in America
The Supreme Court and Religious Issues in the United States
The Supreme Court and Religious Issues in the United States, Honors
Religious Ethics and Moral Decisions
Religion and Moral Decisions, Honors
New Religious Movements (Western)
New Religious Movements (Nonwestern)
American Communes
Religious Studies Required Electives. Satisfied by 3 courses (9 hours) within, or cross-listed with, the Religious Studies Department course offerings.9
Capstone Experience. Satisfied by:
REL 490Senior Seminar in Theories and Methods3

Religious Studies Major Hours & Major GPA

While completing all required courses (above), majors must also meet each of the following hour and grade-point average minimum standards:

Major Hours
Satisfied by 27 hours of major courses.

Major Hours in Residence
Satisfied by a minimum of 15 hours of KU resident credit in the major, of which 9 must be at the junior/senior level (300+).

Major Junior/Senior (300+) Hours
Satisfied by a minimum of 15 hours from junior/senior courses (300+) in the major.

Major Junior/Senior Graduation GPA
Satisfied by a minimum of a 2.0 KU GPA in junior/senior courses (300+) in the major. GPA calculations include all junior/senior courses in the field of study including F’s and repeated courses. See the Semester/Cumulative GPA Calculator.

A sample 4-year plan for the BA degree in Religious Studies can be found here: Religious Studies, or by using the left-side navigation.

A sample 4-year plan for the BGS degree in Religious Studes can be found using the left-side navigation.

Departmental Honors

To be eligible for honors in religious studies, an undergraduate student must have a minimum grade-point average of 3.25 overall and of 3.5 in the department. The student must also complete and defend an individual research project, as evidenced by completion of at least 3 hours of REL 499: Undergraduate Honors Research with a grade of B or better. Interested students should contact the Undergraduate Director for more information.