Religious Studies

Religious Studies explores the roles religion plays in contemporary society and around the world.


Religious Studies starts with a thematic introduction to some of the perennial questions that continue to arise in human existence. There are choices between courses that emphasize big question perspectives, particular social issues and projects, specific disciplinary approaches, and courses that examine in greater detail specifics of particular religious traditions, including texts, rituals, ideas, and political and historical overviews.

Religious Studies is a multi-disciplinary study. Students are exposed to a variety of approaches, as well as to serious reflections on the nature of methodology and scholarly inquiry. We believe an adequate understanding of religion is an asset in recognizing and responding appropriately to the many complex issues that face contemporary society. A sufficiently critical sensibility ensures thoughtful responses, rather than emotive and unthinking reactions.

  • You want to examine how the different aspects of religion shape politics, the arts, social movements, sexualities, and the environment
  • You want to learn more about world religions and their similarities and differences

Religious Studies requires an ability to recognize and identify the particular disciplines utilized in any given study. Being familiar with the social sciences, literature, philosophy, history, and linguistic/language studies, aspects of the physical and natural sciences become part of the student’s worldview. Critical skills include self-reflection, inasmuch as everyone has a vested interest in being able to make reasonable and coherent choices in life. The dynamic nature of critical inquiry indicates the life-long project of learning and developing for which the study of religion equips students.

Graduates from Religious Studies have pursued careers in government, education, social services, religious institutions, journalism, law, non-governmental organizations, and the arts. Graduate degree possibilities include Master of Arts and Doctoral programs in a variety of fields, as well as Theological Graduate Degrees, and Pastoral and Applied Graduate Degrees in Community, Health and Social Services.

Religious Studies, because of its multi-disciplinary approach, relates to every area of the liberal arts as basic issues of human meaning, values, and organization all fall within the scope of the study of religion. It would be difficult to imagine a course or program at St. Thomas that could not be related in some direct fashion.