Undergraduate Program

The requirements below are effective as of June 2013.  Please consult the official version in the Stanford Bulletin.  Students who declared the major, combined major, or minor prior to June 2013 should consult the previous requirements here.

There is no prescribed route or prerequisite to the major or minor in Religious Studies or the combined major in Religious Studies and Philosophy. Students typically find themselves selecting one of these paths after taking elective courses in the department and becoming acquainted with the faculty. Students contemplating the minor are invited to consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor Lee Yearley. The undergraduate student services associate in 71K can field questions regarding the declaration procedure.

major in religious studies

Degree Requirements

The curriculum for majors is designed to move students sequentially from foundational courses, through deeper investigations, culminating in integrative research courses. Thus, the introductory sequence is designed to lead to courses which build on this foundation with topics including: particular traditions such as Judaism or Buddhism; comparative studies such as nonviolence in Hinduism and Buddhism, or Muslim and Christian interpretations of scripture; specific topics such as mysticism, gender and religion, or theodicy; and distinctive approaches such as the philosophy of religion or ritual studies. Majors complete their careers with integrative courses that afford opportunity for research and consolidation of the knowledge and skills gained earlier.

Required Courses

A Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies requires 60 units of course work, distributed as follows:

    1. Two courses (at least 3 units each) from courses numbered 1-49, including approved Thinking Matters or Introductory Seminars. Successful completion of SLE may count as one of these two courses. IHUM courses with Religious Studies content taught prior to 2012-13 also fulfill this requirement.
    2. Two courses (at least 3 units each) from courses numbered 50-99.
    3. Three integrative courses (at least five units each) as follows:
      1. RELIGST 290- Majors Seminar (Winter Quarter of junior year; fulfills WIM requirement; letter grade only) 5 units
      2. RELIGST 297- Senior Essay/Honors Essay Research (minimum 5 units; up to 10 units over two quarters; graded ‘N’ until completion of essay or thesis) 3-5 units
      3. RELIGST 298- Senior Colloquium (Spring Quarter; graded S/NC) 5 units
    4. At least 24 of the remaining units should be in courses numbered 100-289. At least two of these courses should be 200-level seminar courses.

 

Additional Regulations

  1. Variations to the required distribution of courses under 1 and 2 above may be approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies on an individual basis.
  2. All units must be in Religious Studies courses unless an exception is made by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
  3. With the approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, up to two language courses relating to the student’s program of study (such as Arabic, Biblical Hebrew, New Testament Greek, Chinese, Persian, or Japanese), but not counted towards the University language requirement, may be counted toward the major.
  4. No more than ten units of the total 60 may be taken for the grade of ‘S/NC’ or ‘CR/NC.’
  5. Students may not take all courses in one religious tradition.

Senior Essay

A 25-30 page essay on a topic chosen by the student and approved by the adviser upon receipt of a student’s proposal by the end of the third quarter prior to expected graduation. The character and content of the essay, which is meant to allow the student to call into play knowledge and skills learned in the course of the major, may take several forms. For example, a student may return to a subject studied earlier but now pursued in more depth or from a new perspective, research a recent or new topic of interest in the field, or offer a carefully framed critical assessment of what has been learned in the major based on review of influential sources, theories, and methods of studying religion. The senior essay is read and graded by the student’s adviser and one other member of the Religious Studies faculty.

Honors Thesis

A 40-80 page research paper on a topic chosen by the student and approved by the adviser upon receipt of a proposal in the fourth quarter prior to expected graduation. The paper, supported by mastery of primary and secondary scholarship, advances a well-reasoned, supportable thesis. Writers of honors theses must have a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 in Religious Studies courses, and at least 3.2 overall, and are expected to have already demonstrated success in writing research papers. The honors thesis is read and graded by the student’s advisor and one other member of the Religious Studies faculty. Theses earning a grade of ‘B+’ or above receive honors.

combined major in philosophy and religious studies

The combined undergraduate major in Philosophy and Religious Studies consists of 60 units of course work with approximately one third each in the philosophy core, the religious studies core, and either the general major or the special concentration. Affiliated courses cannot be used to satisfy this requirement.

No courses in either the philosophy or religious studies core may be taken satisfactory/no credit or credit/no credit.

In general, transfer units cannot be used to satisfy the core requirements. Transfer units and substitutions must be approved by the director of undergraduate studies in the appropriate department.

Please see a detailed description of the major in the “Philosophy” section of the Bulletin.

Core Requirements

  1. Philosophy (PHIL) courses:
    1.  Required course: PHIL 80 Mind, Matter, and Meaning
    2. 16 units, including at least one Philosophy course from each of the following areas:
      1. logic and philosophy of science
      2. ethics and value theory
      3. epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of language
      4. history of philosophy
  2. Religious Studies (RELIGST) courses: 20 units, chosen in consultation with the student’s adviser, including:
    1. RELIGST 290, Majors Seminar (5 units; Winter Quarter; recommended junior year; fulfills WIM requirement)
    2. at least one course in philosophy of religion (broadly construed), chosen in consultation with/approved by the Religious Studies Director of Undergraduate Studies
    3. diversity requirement: Students may not take all their religion courses in one religious tradition.

General Major Requirements

Five additional courses (approximately 20 units) divided between the two departments. No more than five of these units may come from courses numbered under 99 in either department. Each student must also take at least one undergraduate seminar in religious studies and one undergraduate seminar in philosophy.

Special Concentration

With the aid of an adviser, students pursue a specialized form of inquiry in which the combined departments have strength; for example, American philosophy and religious thought, philosophical and religious theories of human nature and action, philosophy of religion. Courses for this concentration must be approved in writing by the adviser.

Directed Reading and Satisfactory/No Credit Units

Units of directed reading for fulfilling requirements of the joint major are allowed only with special permission. No more than 10 units of work with a grade of ‘satisfactory’ count toward the joint major.

Honors Program

Students pursuing a joint major in Philosophy and Religious Studies may also apply for honors by following the procedure for honors in either of the departments.

minor in religious studies

A Religious Studies minor is a complement to many majors throughout the University. Students contemplating the minor are invited to consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor Lee Yearley. The undergraduate student services associate in 71K, can field questions regarding the declaration procedure.

Degree Requirements

A minor in Religious Studies requires a minimum of 30 units. Students are encouraged to focus their program of study either on a religious tradition or on a theme that cuts across traditions. In consultation with their advisers, students may design the minor in Religious Studies to complement their major. The minor must be declared no later than the last day of the quarter, two quarters before degree conferral.

Required Courses for the Minor

  1. One course (at least 3 units) from courses numbered 1-49, including approved Thinking Matters or Introductory Seminars. IHUM courses with Religious Studies content taught prior to 2012-13 also fulfill this requirement.
  2. One course (at least 3 units) from courses numbered 50-99.
  3. At least 14 of the remaining units should be at the intermediate and advanced level (above 100), including at least one 200-level seminar course.

Additional Regulations

  1. All units must be in Religious Studies courses unless an exception is made by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
  2. With the approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, one language course relating to the student’s program of study (such as Arabic, Biblical Hebrew, New Testament Greek, Chinese, Persian, or Japanese), but not counted towards the University language requirement, may be counted toward the minor.
  3. No course may be taken on a ‘S/NC’ or ‘CR/NC’ basis.
  4. Students may not take all courses in one religious tradition.
  5. One course in directed reading (RELIGST 199 Individual Work) may be counted towards the minor.

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