The purpose of the bachelor of arts in religion program is to teach students the art of critical thinking, to challenge them to think creatively, and to lead them to make a deliberate and rational attempt to understand both the whole and the parts of their experience for the purpose of obtaining wisdom for effective living.
The program encourages students to discover and examine the basic religious ideas of diverse cultures in order to gain illumination of personal and social values. Like philosophy, an education in religion prepares one for life in general.
The program in religion provides training in the critical analytic skills, reading abilities, and writing skills demanded by a religion major. It prepares students to enter academic graduate programs in religious studies, philosophy, law, medicine, and cognate fields or to go on to seminary school and study for a ministry degree.
A major in religion requires 30 semester hours including the following:
REL 131 (Comparative Religion),
PHI 372 (Philosophy of Religion),
REL 480 (Senior Capstone in Religion),
a course in Western religion,
and a course in Eastern religion.
A minor in religion requires 18 semester hours in religion or philosophy courses related to religion. These hours include REL 131 (Comparative Religion). We recommend that religion minors take PHI 372 (Philosophy of Religion).
Why should you study religion?
Prepare for a future career
The study of religion involves reading influential texts, thinking critically about the meaning of those texts, and effectively presenting analyses in both written and oral form. In so doing the religion major creates graduates who not only are prepared for a variety of careers but also are adaptable within an ever-changing job market. Majors in religion often enter careers in law, international business, human rights, graduate study in many different fields, or ministry.
Understand your world
Looking globally, religions have exerted enormous influence on human history, cultures, and ideas. Without the study of religion one cannot fully understand what it is to be human and what is important as humanity moves forward in history. Without a critical study of religion, it is impossible to understand currents in world societies and politics.
Travel to exotic places
Part of the study of religion involves greater cross-cultural awareness and sensitivity. To this end, no other major in religion in the state is coupled with an active study abroad program like at USM. We’ve taken students to Jamaica, Tibet, and India, and plans are in place to take students to Israel and Tunisia as well.
Famous majors in religion include:
Pierre Trudeau, former Canadian Prime Minister
John Elway, former quarterback for the Denver Broncos
Harrison Ford, actor
Elie Wiesel, human rights activist
Dr. John Silber, former president of Boston University