religious-studies

Religious studies is an academic discipline that looks at religious phenomena worldwide from a variety of angles in order to understand the many roles that religion plays in human life. To this end, students of religion learn to use a variety of theoretical analyses and methods. These include historical methods to understand how religions develop in time; critical literary methods to understand religious ideas; aesthetic methods to understand religious art and material culture; social-scientific methods to understand the relationship between religion, society and culture. Religious studies can also engage a variety of professional disciplines in analysis of how religion functions in economic, educational or political contexts, healthcare and scientific research, to name some examples.

Some ways of studying religion emphasize understanding religions on their own terms, other ways use comparative methods to discern differences and similarities between religions. Students of religion also study ways that people use religious resources to make meaning outside the boundaries of religious institutions and identities. Above all, the field of religious studies requires a willingness to explore different ways of interpreting human life and diligent effort to develop understanding of how religious ideas, symbols, rituals and spaces serve as resources for people in a variety of contexts as they make sense of and live out their lives in the world. Thus, religious studies provides important preparation for thinking, communicating and functioning professionally and personally in a complex, multi-dimensional world.

Courses

Because religious studies is an interdisciplinary program drawing upon many departments, some courses may have prerequisites in their home departments that must be fulfilled even though the prerequisites themselves have no bearing on progress within the religious studies major. Students are responsible for ensuring that they have met all the prerequisites to enter a course before they enroll in it.  The current list of courses can be found in the Religious Studies course list page in the Guide.

Students who wish to declare their intention to major or earn a certificate in religious studies must meet with the undergraduate advisor during regular office hours or by making an appointment. Students are encouraged to do this early in their academic careers in order to plan for successful completion and take advantage of opportunities such as Honors, special research, internship, service learning, or study abroad opportunities in associate with the major or certificate.

Dr. Corrie Norman is the undergraduate advisor and Honors in the Major advisor. Contact her by email at cenorman@wisc.edu.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Letters & Science Breadth and Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Students pursuing a bachelor of science degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science curriculum. View a comparison of the degree requirements here.

Bachelor of Science DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

Mathematics Two (2) 3+ credits of intermediate/advanced level MATH, COMP SCI, STAT
Limit one each: COMP SCI, STAT
Foreign Language Complete the third unit of a foreign language
Note: A unit is one year of high school work or one semester/term of college work.
L&S Breadth
  • Humanities, 12 credits: 6 of the 12 credits must be in literature
  • Social Sciences, 12 credits
  • Natural Sciences, 12 credits: must include 6 credits in biological science; and must include 6 credits in physical science
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework 108 credits
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work 60 intermediate or advanced credits
Major Declare and complete at least one (1) major
Total Credits 120 credits
UW-Madison Experience 30 credits in residence, overall
30 credits in residence after the 90th credit
Minimum GPAs 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
2.000 in intermediate/advanced coursework at UW–Madison

Non–L&S Students PURSUING AN L&S MAJOR

Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements and do not need to complete the L&S breadth and degree requirements above.

Requirements for the Major

To earn a major in religious studies, students must complete at least 30 credits as follows:

Gateway Courses, select one of the following:3
Religion in Global Perspective
Exploring Religion in Sickness and Health
Capstone Sequence:
RELIG ST 600
RELIG ST 601
Religion in Critical Perspective
and Senior Capstone Research and Colloquium
7
Additional Courses:20
Select additional credits in RELIG ST to bring credits in the major to 30. At least 9 credits must be at the 300-level or higher. See Additional Courses Course List below.
Total Credits30

ADDITIONAL COURSES Course List

RELIG ST/​E ASIAN/​HISTORY/​LCA  308 Introduction to Buddhism3-4
RELIG ST/​HISTORY/​MEDIEVAL  309 The Crusades: Christianity and Islam3-4
RELIG ST 311 Sects and Cults3
RELIG ST/​HISTORY/​MEDIEVAL  312 The Medieval Church3-4
RELIG ST/​HISTORY/​MEDIEVAL  318 Medieval Social and Intellectual History, 1200-14503-4
RELIG ST/​SLAVIC  325 Eastern Christianity/Russian Orthodoxy in a Global Context3
RELIG ST 327 Christianity and the Almighty Dollar3
RELIG ST/​JEWISH/​LITTRANS  328 Classical Rabbinic Literature in Translation3-4
RELIG ST/​HIST SCI/​MED HIST  331 Science, Medicine and Religion3-4
RELIG ST/​CLASSICS/​HEBR-BIB/​JEWISH/​LITTRANS  332 Prophets of the Bible4
RELIG ST 333 Early Christian Literature: Matthew-Revelation3
RELIG ST/​HISTORY  334 The Reformation3-4
RELIG ST/​CLASSICS/​JEWISH  335 King David in History and Tradition3
RELIG ST/​FOLKLORE/​LITTRANS/​MEDIEVAL  342 In Translation: Mythology of Scandinavia3-4
RELIG ST/​ANTHRO  343 Anthropology of Religion3-4
RELIG ST/​CLASSICS/​JEWISH  346 Jewish Literature of the Greco-Roman Period3
RELIG ST/​E ASIAN  350 Introduction to Taoism3-4
RELIG ST/​FOLKLORE  352 Shamanism3
RELIG ST/​LCA  355 Hinduism4
RELIG ST/​ENVIR ST/​HIST SCI/​LCA  356 Islam, Science & Technology, and the Environment3-4
RELIG ST/​LCA  357 Literatures of Muslim Societies3
RELIG ST/​FOLKLORE  359 Myth3
RELIG ST/​ENGL/​HISTORY  360 The Anglo-Saxons3
RELIG ST 361 Early Christian Literature: Pauline Christianity3
RELIG ST/​E ASIAN  363 Introduction to Confucianism3
RELIG ST/​LCA  367 Jainism: Religion of Non-Violence3
RELIG ST/​HISTORY/​JEWISH/​MEDIEVAL  368 The Bible in the Middle Ages3
RELIG ST/​AFRICAN/​LCA  370 Islam: Religion and Culture3-4
RELIG ST/​ANTHRO/​JEWISH  372 Jews of Central and Eastern Europe3-4
RELIG ST/​ART HIST  373 Great Cities of Islam3
RELIG ST/​COM ARTS  374 The Rhetoric of Religion3
RELIG ST/​JEWISH  377 Jewish Cultural History (in English)4
RELIG ST/​HISTORY  379 Islam in Iran3
RELIG ST 400 Topics in Religious Studies - Humanities3-4
RELIG ST 401 Topics in Religious Studies - Social Studies3-4
RELIG ST/​LCA  402 Thought of Gandhi3
RELIG ST 403 Topics in Religious Studies-US Ethnic Studies3-5
RELIG ST/​LCA  421 A Survey of Tibetan Buddhism3
RELIG ST/​POLI SCI  433 Religion and Politics3-4
RELIG ST/​ENGL  434 Milton3
RELIG ST/​JEWISH/​PHILOS  435 Jewish Philosophy from Antiquity to the Seventeenth Century3
RELIG ST/​HISTORY  437 Western Christianity from Augustine to Darwin4
RELIG ST/​HISTORY/​LCA  438 Buddhism and Society in Southeast Asian History3-4
RELIG ST/​HISTORY  439 Islamic History From the Origin of Islam to the Ottoman Empire3-4
RELIG ST/​MEDIEVAL  440 Francis of Assisi: Literature and the Arts3
RELIG ST/​LCA  444 Introduction to Sufism (Islamic Mysticism)3
RELIG ST/​JEWISH  448 Classical Rabbinic Texts3
RELIG ST/​E ASIAN/​LCA  466 Buddhist Thought3
RELIG ST/​HISTORY  470 Religious Thought in Modern Europe3-4
RELIG ST 472 Christian Literature: The Gospels3
RELIG ST/​ART HIST  478 Art and Religious Practice in Medieval Japan3
RELIG ST 500 Advanced Topics in Religious Studies2-4
RELIG ST/​PHILOS  501 Philosophy of Religion3-4
RELIG ST/​PHILOS  502 Special Topics in Philosophy of Religion3
RELIG ST/​CURRIC/​ED POL  516 Religion and Public Education3
RELIG ST/​CLASSICS/​HISTORY  517 Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean3
RELIG ST/​HISTORY/​JEWISH  529 Intellectual and Religious History of European Jewry, 1648-19394
RELIG ST/​HISTORY/​LCA  547 Religion, Colonialism & Modernity in Southeast Asia3
RELIG ST/​LCA/​SOC  614 Social Structures of Muslim Societies3
RELIG ST/​POLI SCI  618 Political Islam3-4
RELIG ST/​LCA  620 Proseminar: Studies in Religions of Asia3
RELIG ST/​LCA  623 Yoga: Methods and Goals3
RELIG ST/​LCA  624 Meditation in Indian Buddhism and Hinduism3
RELIG ST/​LCA  626 Gods and Goddesses of South Asia3
RELIG ST/​LCA/​LEGAL ST  628 Hindu Law3
RELIG ST/​LCA/​SOC  634 Social Structure of India3
RELIG ST/​LCA  650 Proseminar in Buddhist Thought2-3
RELIG ST/​ANTHRO  666 The Anthropology of Shamanism and Occult Experience3

 Residence and quality of work

2.000 GPA in all RELIG ST and major courses

2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level credits for the major, taken in residence1

15 credits in RELIG ST or the major, taken on campus

1

 Courses counting as upper level in the major include:  RELIG ST/​HISTORY  208, RELIG ST/​HISTORY  209, RELIG ST/​CLASSICS/​JEWISH/​LITTRANS  227, RELIG ST/​ILS  234, RELIG ST/​E ASIAN/​LCA  235, RELIG ST/​CLASSICS/​JEWISH/​LITTRANS  237, RELIG ST/​LITTRANS/​MEDIEVAL  253, RELIG ST/​LITTRANS  257, RELIG ST/​PHILOS  261 and all courses numbered RELIG ST 300–699, except RELIG ST/​CLASSICS/​HEBR-BIB/​JEWISH/​LITTRANS  332.

Honors in the Major

Students may declare Honors in the Religious Studies Major in consultation with the Religious Studies undergraduate advisor.

Honors in the Religious Studies Major Requirements

To earn a B.A. or B.S. with Honors in the Major in Religious Studies students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 overall university GPA
  • Earn a 3.500 GPA for all RELIG ST courses and courses that count for the major
  • Complete 19 credits, taken for Honors, with individual grades of B or better, to include:
    • RELIG ST 600 Religion in Critical Perspective
    • RELIG ST 601 Senior Capstone Research and Colloquium
    • 6 credits of intermediate- or advanced-level RELIG ST courses or courses that count for the major
    • A two-semester Senior Honors Thesis in RELIG ST 681 Senior Honors Thesis and RELIG ST 682 Senior Honors Thesis, for a total of 6 credits.

University Degree Requirements 

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.

The Religious Studies curriculum is designed so that, by the time of graduation, students will have developed the following attributes:

  1. Proficiency in close reading, interpretation, and written and oral analysis.
  2. Proficiency in accessing, appraising, and utilizing a variety of resources and methods for research across disciplinary lines.
  3. Proficiency in categorizing, analyzing and comparing diverse systems of value and belief in a variety of contexts.
  4. Global and local religious literacy; identifying, evaluating, and interpreting the interrelationships and impact of religious worldviews and communities in Wisconsin, the United States and globally.
  5. Ability to conduct and present sustained research on primary sources using methodologies/analysis of religious studies culminating in the senior capstone project.

Advising

Dr. Corrie Norman is the undergraduate advisor and Honors in the Major advisor. Contact her by email at cenorman@wisc.edu to meet with her. Students are encouraged to meet with Dr. Norman early in their academic careers in order to plan for successful completion and take advantage of opportunities such as Honors, special research, internship, service learning or study abroad opportunities in associate with the major or certificate. 

Careers

Religious studies engages a variety of professional disciplines and provides important preparation for thinking, communicating and functioning professionally in a complex, multi-dimensional world.

Religious studies sponsors workshops and other career exploration vehicles, often in collaboration with Career Services, to aid students in articulating the value of religious studies for their career preparation. Student-developed capstone projects in religious studies often make specific connections to experiential learning and career preparation in a range of fields. Talk with Dr. Norman about possibilities for combining internships and other forms of pre-professional training with the major and certificate.

Letters & Science Career Services

Professors: Bell, Bowie, Brenner, Bühnemann, Chamberlain, Cohen, Dale, DuBois, Dunne, Gade, Hansen, Hardin, Hildner, Howard, Hsia, Koshar, Langer, Livorni, Louden, Nadler, Ohnuki-Tierney, Phillips, Schamiloglu, Schenck, Schweber, Stanford Friedman, Thompson, Wandel, Wink, Wolf, Zaeske

Associate Professors: Beneker, Hutton, Livanos, Meulenbeld, Rosenblum, Shelef, Shoemaker, Thal, Todorovic

Assistant Professors: Al-Mohammad, Chamedes, Hollander, Mandell, Pruitt

Visiting Assistant Professors: Cerulli, Ridgely

Distinguished Faculty Associate: Brown

Faculty Associates: Mellor, Norman

Associate Faculty Associates: Rosenhagen, Whelan

Lecturer: Carlsson

Faculty Diversity Liaison: Program Director Rosenblum