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.


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

Requirements for the Certificate in Religious Studies

A certificate in religious studies is available to all undergraduates and special students studying at UW–Madison. To earn the certificate, students must complete:

Gateway Courses, Select one of the following:3
Religion in Global Perspective
Exploring Religion in Sickness and Health
Exploring Religion and Sexuality
Capstone Course:
RELIG ST 600 Religion in Critical Perspective3
Additional Courses, see course list below:12
Select an additional 12 credits in RELIG ST courses to bring total credits to at least 18 credits. See course list below.
Total Credits18

Additional requirements:

  • 2.000 GPA in all RELIG ST and certificate courses.
  • At least 9 credits for the certificate must be earned in residence.

Additional Courses Course List

RELIG ST/​HISTORY/​MEDIEVAL  112 The World of Late Antiquity (200-900 C.E.)4
RELIG ST/​HISTORY  131 Introduction to Christianity: Jesus to the Present4
RELIG ST/​CNSR SCI  173 Consuming Happiness3
RELIG ST 200 Introductory Topics in Religious Studies (Humanities)3-4
RELIG ST/​HISTORY/​LCA  205 The Making of the Islamic World: The Middle East, 500-15003-4
RELIG ST/​LCA  206 Introduction to the Qur'an4
RELIG ST/​HISTORY  208 Western Intellectual and Religious History to 15003-4
RELIG ST/​HISTORY  209 Western Intellectual and Religious History since 15003-4
RELIG ST/​JEWISH  211 Introduction to Judaism4
RELIG ST/​HISTORY  212 The History of Western Christianity to 17504
RELIG ST/​CLASSICS/​JEWISH/​LITTRANS  227 Introduction to Biblical Literature (in English)4
RELIG ST/​HISTORY  230 Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Braided Histories3
RELIG ST/​ILS  234 Genres of Western Religious Writing3
RELIG ST/​E ASIAN/​LCA  235 Genres of Asian Religious Writing3
RELIG ST/​CLASSICS/​JEWISH/​LITTRANS  237 Biblical Poetry in Translation3
RELIG ST/​LITTRANS/​MEDIEVAL  253 Literature in Translation: Dante's Divine Comedy3
RELIG ST/​LITTRANS  257 Literatures of Muslim Societies in Translation3
RELIG ST/​PHILOS  261 Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion3-4
RELIG ST/​E ASIAN/​HISTORY  267 Asian Religions in Global Perspective3
RELIG ST/​ENVIR ST  270 Environment and Religion3-4
RELIG ST 271 Religion in History and Culture: The West3
RELIG ST/​LCA  274 Religion in South Asia3
RELIG ST/​JEWISH  278 Food in Rabbinic Judaism3-4
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 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/​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

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.


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


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