Main content start

Why study religion?

The study of religion prepares you for more than a career—it prepares you for life.

Religion can inspire and provoke, unite and polarize.  It is the primary expression of humanity's quest to find meaning and purpose.  Understanding this phenomenon helps us explore the most basic questions of our existence. From politics and art to science and war, the study of religion opens a gateway to understanding the world around us.

A religious studies degree equips students with skills to enter a wide range of careers including law, education, medicine, journalism, government, the non-profit sector, and spiritual leadership. Religious studies alumni are civil rights activists, Hollywood screenwriters, motivational speakers, and college professors.

Read about what our graduates are doing

Start Here.

Our Gateway Courses

Want to grapple with profound ethical and theological questions? Or learn about the ideas, people, and rituals that shape religion? Begin with our gateway course Religion Around the Globe. Or try Is Stanford a Religion?, which examines how the university's culture resembles a religion through its myths, rituals, and taboos, or The Religious Life of Things, which looks at how religions around the world understand the objects that surround us. Discover the various  other "frosh friendly" courses through our Explore Majors page!

Digging deeper

Our Exploring series introduces the world's great religious traditions, like Exploring Zen Buddhism, Exploring the New Testament or Exploring Islamic Mysticism. Follow up with courses that examine how religion relates to essential aspects of culture,  gender, politics, and identity, such as Buddhist Philosophy, the Language of Islam, or Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr

Beyond the Classroom

From exploring sacred sites around the world to participating in lively events on campus, there are myriad opportunities for enhancing your understanding of religion's role in history and society. In addition to events supported by the department, we also work closely with several affiliated centers. Read more about our affiliates.

Cultivate skills for your future.

Critical Thinking

Cultural Awareness

Persuasive Argument

I love learning about the different beliefs that people have and how those beliefs affect the way they live their lives. I think it's a very relevant subject for the 21st century world: now that technology has brought us all closer together, we need to learn to co-exist and collaborate with people who are different from us. Religious Studies is one angle to expose ourselves to diversity of thought and ways of living. I wish that more people could learn about religious studies because I think it would lead to a more peaceful world.
Jennifer Wolochow, '10
Product Launch Manager at Coursera