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.

Undergraduate Admission

Admission to KU

All students applying for admission must send high school and college transcripts to the Office of Admissions. Unless they are college transfer students with at least 24 hours of credit, prospective students must send ACT or SAT scores to the Office of Admissions. Prospective first-year students should be aware that KU has qualified admission requirements that all new first-year students must meet to be admitted. Consult the Office of Admissions for application deadlines and specific admission requirements.

Visit the International Support Services for information about international admissions.

Students considering transferring to KU may see how their college-level course work will transfer on the Office of Admissions website.

Admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Admission to the College is a different process from admission to a major field. Some CLAS departments have admission requirements. See individual department/program sections for departmental admission requirements.

Admission to the Major

There are no departmental prerequisites for admission to the major. However, once the major is declared, careful attention should be paid to the requirements of the major itself.

Religious Studies Program

The Religious Studies major consists of required courses, distribution requirements, and electives. The required introductory course and capstone seminar focus on theoretical and methodological issues in the study of religion. Distribution requirements encourage students to approach the study of religion from a variety of angles, from a focus on individual religions to the interaction between religions in specific regions to the exploration of comparative issues and themes. Electives allow students to tailor their course of study to their specific interests and pursue a depth of knowledge in particular aspects of the study of religion.

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
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
Specific Religious Traditions3
Satisfied by 1 course (3 hours) chosen from the following:
Jews, Christians, Muslims
Jews, Christians, Muslims, Honors
Understanding the Bible
Understanding the Bible, Honors
Religion of Ancient Israel
Introduction to Judaism
The Talmud: Its Origins, Nature, and Evolution
Native American Religions
Native American Religions, Honors
The Buddhist Tradition in Asia
Studies in Early Christian Literature and History
The Dead Sea Scrolls
Ancient Egyptian Culture and Religion
Jews and Christians
Christian Origins: from the Beginnings to Augustine
Hindu Epics, Past and Present
Modern Islamic Reform Movements
Modern Jewish Thought
Religion in Specific Regions3
Satisfied by 1 course (3 hours) chosen from the following:
Asian Religions
Asian Religions, Honors
Religion in American Society
Religion in American Society, Honors
History of Religion in America
Religion in India
Religion in China
Religion in Japan
Religion in Korea
Gods and Goddesses of South Asia
Buddhists and Buddhism in China
Religion in Kansas
New Religious Movements (Western)
New Religious Movements (Nonwestern)
Thematic Approaches to Religion3
Satisfied by 1 course (3 hours) chosen from the following:
Religious Zionisms
Women and Gender in Islam
Religion and Society in Tension
The Supreme Court and Religious Issues in the United States
Religious Perspectives on Selfhood and Sexuality
The Supreme Court and Religious Issues in the United States, Honors
Religious Ethics and Moral Decisions
Religion and Moral Decisions, Honors
Reading Asian Religious Classics
Religion and Film
Visions in Art and Literature
Gender and Religion
Studies in Ritual: _____
Yoga in Theory, Practice, and History
Judaism and Political Theology
Judaism and Sexuality
Religious Studies Required Electives9
Satisfied by 3 courses (9 hours) within, or cross-listed with, the Religious Studies Department course offerings.
Capstone Experience3
Satisfied by:
Senior Seminar in Theories and Methods

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 Studies can be found here: Religious Studies, or by 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.