Dec 11, 2023  
Undergraduate Record 2023-2024 
Undergraduate Record 2023-2024

Religious Studies

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Requirements for Major

In order to complete a major in religious studies, each student must:

A. Complete a minimum of ten graded courses (30 credits) within the Department of Religious Studies.

  1. Take RELG 1000 (3 credits) or two courses (each 3 credits) that have been approved by the Department as introductory courses for the study of religion.
  1. Take at least three courses (9 credits) in one of the following concentrations: Religions of Africa and the African Diaspora (RELA), Buddhism (RELB), Christianity (RELC), Hinduism (RELH), Islam (RELI) or Judaism (RELJ)

          a. At least one of these courses (3 credits) must be at the 3000-level or above.  

          b. RELG 1010 and RELG 1040 cannot be used to fulfill this requirement.  

          c. In exceptional circumstances, a student may design their own pathways by identifying three connected courses and petitioning the Director of Undergraduate Programs.   

  1. Take RELG 3730, “Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion” (3 credits)  
  1. Breadth Requirement: Of the remaining elective courses, two courses (of 3 credits each) must be defined as being outside of the student’s chosen concentration.
  1. Take three courses (of 3 credits each) of the ten required at the 3000-level or above.  Courses taken to fulfill requirements #2, #3, and #4 may be used to fulfill this requirement.  
  2. Take RELG 4500, “Majors’ Seminar” (3 credits). RELG 4500 does not count toward the three courses at the 3000-level.

B. A grade of C (2.0) or above must be achieved in each course offered for the completion of the Religious Studies major.

To declare the major, students must complete at least one course in Religious Studies with a grade of C or better.

Students interested in declaring a major may obtain the major declaration form online. Prospective majors must consult with the Director of Undergraduate Programs or a faculty member in order to plan their courses and to choose an advisor.  

C. Courses from other University Departments

The Department permits a total of six credit hours of coursework to be taken in other departments. A list of approved courses appears on the department’s website, with other courses considered by petition to the Director of Undergraduate Programs.

Requirements for Minor

In order to complete a minor in Religious Studies, each student must complete a minimum of five graded courses (15 credits) within the Department of Religious Studies. Two courses (6 credits) must be in one of the world’s major religious traditions. At least one of the five required courses (3 credits) must be taken at the 3000-level, or above. A grade of C (2.0) or above must be achieved in each course offered for the completion of the Religious Studies major.

A maximum of three credit hours of coursework may be taken outside the Department from another University department (see list of designated courses on the department website).

Distinguished Majors Program

The Distinguished Majors Program (DMP) in Religious Studies affords qualified students the opportunity to do advanced research and to receive at graduation the honor of distinction, high distinction, or highest distinction.

Entry into the program

  1. Students qualify for application to the program if they have achieved an average GPA of 3.400 in all course work prior to application to the program.
  2. Students must apply to the DMP program by April 1 of their Third Year (or equivalent). To do this, students will be asked to write a few short paragraphs in which they explain why they are interested in the program and to outline two or three topics on which they would be interested in writing. A form explaining the application essay in more detail will be available on the Religious Studies website.
  3. The applicant must obtain endorsement from a Religious Studies faculty member to apply to the program. Unless otherwise arranged, this faculty member will serve as the student’s thesis advisor. Students should contact the Religious Studies Director of Undergraduate Programs (DUP) if they need help identifying faculty members for endorsement. By the end of the first semester of the thesis-writing year, the student must obtain a second reader for the thesis from the Department as well. The DUP can also help students find a second reader if they are unable to do so on their own.

Requirements for completion of the program:

  1. Completion of normal major requirements.
  2. In addition to the 30 credits required for the major, students must take RELG 4800 Research Methods in Religious Studies and RELG 4900 Distinguished Majors Thesis. In RELG 4800 students write a thesis proposal outlining the thesis’s driving questions, its methods and its sources. Students also write an annotated bibliography of works relevant to the thesis. RELG 4900 is an independent study in which each student works with a faculty advisor to write the Distinguished Majors Thesis.
  3. The thesis should be thirty to fifty pages in length. Final copies must be submitted to the faculty advisor and the second reader no later than May 1st for Spring graduation and August graduation, and December 1st for December graduation. A final copy must also be submitted to the department archives by sending it to the DUP.

Additional Information

For more information, contact the Undergraduate Program Director, Department of Religious Studies,  P.O. Box 400126 Charlottesville, VA 22904-4126; (434) 924-6705.

Course Descriptions




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