VCU Bulletins

Religious Studies, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

David Bromley
Professor and Program Co-coordinator

Isabelle Richman
Instructor and Program Co-coordinator

Special requirements

The Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies requires a minimum of 120 credits, with at least 33 credits in religious studies courses or in courses listed as acceptable for religious studies credit. Up to six of the 33 credits may be taken in language studies relevant to one’s area of research interest and with the appropriate approval through the School of World Studies Advising Office. Other courses occasionally may be substituted should the needs and background of an individual student warrant substitutions. Religious studies majors are encouraged to consider a second major or minor that complements their study of religions (e.g. English, international studies), as well as study-abroad opportunities to enrich their studies.

The mission of the Religious Studies Program at VCU is to advance understanding of the nature, history and diversity of religious traditions.

Religious studies is guided by the idea that studying humanity’s diverse and developing religious traditions is vital to understanding what it means to be human and how to live wisely as members of the world community. Students explore the artistic, ethical, literary, psychological and social dimensions of religions, as well as the relationship between religious ideas, institutions, and practices and matters of gender, sexuality, race, nationality, health, social justice, human rights and nature.

Religious studies emphasizes excellence in written, oral and visual interpretation and communication, critical thinking, informed dialogue, and global citizenship. Combining classroom- and community-based learning through study-abroad programs, internships and community service, religious studies empowers students to engage intellectually and practically with diverse communities and work to build a peaceful, generous and affirming society.

Degree requirements Religious Studies, Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of diverse religious traditions.
  2. Utilize the vocabulary, concepts and research methods of the academic study of religion.
  3. Analyze the influence of religions on ethics, society and culture.
  4. Make clear, well-organized and substantive written and oral presentations.
General Education requirements (32-46 credits) Credits
University Core Education Curriculum (minimum 21 credits)
UNIV 111 Focused Inquiry I 3
UNIV 112 Focused Inquiry II 3
UNIV 200 Inquiry and the Craft of Argument 3
Approved humanities/fine arts 3
Approved natural/physical sciences 3-4
Approved quantitative literacy 3-4
Approved social/behavioral sciences 3-4
Additional College of Humanities and Sciences requirements (11-23 credits)  
HUMS 202 Choices in a Consumer Society 1
Approved H&S diverse and global communities 3
Approved H&S general education electives 6-8
Approved H&S human, social and political behavior (fulfills University Core social/behavioral sciences)  
Approved H&S literature and civilization (fulfills University Core humanities/fine arts)  
Approved H&S science and technology (fulfills University Core natural/physical sciences)  
Experiential fine arts (course offered by the School of the Arts) 1-3
Foreign language through the 102 level (by course or placement) 0-8
Collateral requirements (0-3 credits)  
Experiential learning: Students must fulfill this requirement through an approved internship (FRLG 493, INTL 493, RELS 493, WRLD 493 or other pre-approved internship opportunities), major-specific service-learning course or study abroad program. 0-3
World Passport: Students must complete the School of World Studies World Passport. 0
Major requirements (33 credits)  
RELS 108 Human Spirituality 3
RELS/INTL 311 Religions of the World (Eastern religions) 3
RELS/INTL 312 Religions of the World (Western religions) 3
RELS 340/INTL 341 Global Ethics and World Religions 3
RELS 490 Senior Capstone Seminar 3
Religion, society, and culture electives (select two courses from list below) 6
RELS electives (select an additional four courses from list below, with at least 6 credits at the 400-level) 12
Open electives (38-55 credits)  
Open electives 38-55
Total minimum requirement 120


Religion, society, and culture
RELS 250 Death: Myth and Reality
RELS/PSYC 333 Psychology and the Religious Experience
RELS 334 Religion in Contemporary America
RELS 336 Religions in Latin America
RELS 337 Contemporary Cults and New Religious Movements
RELS 360/SOCY 360 Sociology of Religion
RELS 361 The Bible as Literature 
RELS/GSWS 371 Women in Islam
RELS/GSWS/INTL 372 Global Women’s Spirituality 
RELS 422 Religion and Film
RELS 450/INTL 449 Religion, Globalization, and Social Justice
RELS/AFAM/INTL 451 Religion, Racism and Social Justice
RELS/GSWS/INTL 453 Western Religions, Women and Social Justice

RELS electives
HIST 336 History of Christianity II
RELS 280 Introduction to Catholic Studies
RELS 301 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible
RELS 302 Introduction to the New Testament
RELS/INTL 305 Hebrew Prophets
RELS 306 Introduction to Judaism
RELS/AFAM/INTL 307 Black Religion
RELS 308/HIST 311 High and Later Middle Ages
RELS 313 Life and Literature of Paul
RELS 314 Jesus in the New Testament Tradition
RELS 315/HIST 301 The Ancient Near East
RELS/INTL 317 Islam
RELS 318/HIST 333 History of the Jewish People I
RELS 319/HIST 334 History of the Jewish People II
RELS 320 Taoism
RELS/PHIL 322 Tibetan Buddhism
RELS/PHIL 326 Existentialism
RELS 327/HIST 335 History of Christianity I
RELS 335 The American Jewish Experience
RELS/PHIL 342 Buddhist Reasoning and Debate
RELS 350/INTL 360 World Classics of Spirituality
RELS 362 Shakespeare and Religion
RELS 363 Archaeology of Sacred Texts
RELS 368 Asian Religions and Asian Medicine
RELS/GSWS 373 Gender and the Bible
RELS 380 Contemporary Catholic Thought
RELS/LFSC 401 Faith and Life Sciences
RELS 407 Modern Jewish Thought
RELS/PHIL 408 Indian Tradition
RELS/INTL 409 Modern Islamic Thought and Global Trends
RELS/PHIL/INTL 410 The Chinese Tradition in Philosophy
RELS/PHIL/INTL 412 Zen Buddhism
RELS/ANTH/INTL 425 Religion, Magic and Witchcraft
RELS/PHIL 430 Philosophy of Religion
RELS/PHIL 440 Mysticism
RELS/INTL 441 Islamic Mysticism: the Sufis
RELS 442 Seminar in Hinduism
RELS 455/INTL 456 Catholic Ethics and Social Justice

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