VCU Bulletins

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

Special requirements

The Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies requires a minimum of 120 credits, with at least 31 credits in religious studies courses or in courses listed as acceptable for religious studies credit. Up to six credits in Hebrew, Greek, Arabic, Japanese or Chinese language courses may be accepted within the required 31 credits of the program if approved by the curriculum committee of the program; that same committee may approve occasional substitutions within religious studies major requirements should the needs and background of an individual student warrant such substitutions.

The Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies offers a flexible program of interdisciplinary courses on humanity’s major religious traditions and religious culture in the context of globalization. Students explore the artistic, ethical, literary, psychological and social dimensions of religions, as well as their influence on gender, sexuality, race, nationality, health, the environment, human rights and social justice. Religious studies emphasizes excellence in written, oral and visual interpretation and communication, critical thinking, informed conversation and an international worldview. The religious studies program is committed to combining classroom-based and community-based learning through study-abroad programs and community engagement. Religious studies majors are encouraged to consider a second major or minor that complements their study of the world’s religions (e.g. in a foreign language or international studies).

The religious studies program is guided by the idea that understanding humanity’s diverse and developing religious traditions is vital to understanding what it means to be human and to live wisely as members of the planetary community. With endowed chairs in Judaic studies, Catholic studies, Islamic art and the history of Christianity, a dynamic city whose cultural mosaic is composed of the world’s religious traditions and a lively community of faculty and students, the religious studies program offers an excellent place to study the ongoing development of humanity’s global religious life.

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

Learning outcomes

  1. Knowledge regarding diverse religions.
  2. Knowledge regarding religion and society.
  3. Knowledge regarding religion, literature and the arts.
  4. Development of reading, writing and oral communication skills.
  5. Development of ethical, critical and creative thinking skills.
  6. Development of global awareness and global citizenship.

Upon completing this program, students will know and know how to do the following:

  1. Possess knowledge regarding the diversity and unity of religions.
  2. Possess knowledge regarding the relationship between religion and other aspects of society.
  3. Possess knowledge regarding the relationship between religion and literature and the arts.
  4. Be able to read, write and orally communicate well.
  5. Be able to think ethically, critically and creatively.
  6. Be able to think globally and engage thoughtfully with society.
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 (0-9 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
Foreign language requirement: In order to fulfill upper-level course work in any foreign language, students must have consecutively completed 101, 102, 201, and 202 or 205 courses in a respective foreign language or prove the equivalent proficiency level through placement testing. 0-6
World Passport: Students must complete the School of World Studies World Passport. 0
Major requirements (31 credits)  
RELS 490 Seminar in Religious Studies or RELS 491 Topics in Religious Studies or RELS 492 Independent Study 3
RELS 499 Senior Seminar 1
Eastern religions (select two courses from list below) 6
Methods (select one course from list below) 3
Themes (select one course from list below) 3
Western religions (select two courses from list below) 6
RELS electives 9
Open electives (34-57 credits)  
Open electives 34-57
Total minimum requirement 120


Eastern religions: Select two of the following courses (6 credits).
RELS 311 Religions of the World
RELS 320 Taoism
RELS 322/PHIL 322 Tibetan Buddhism
RELS 342/PHIL 342 Buddhist Reasoning and Debate
RELS 368 Asian Religions and Asian Medicine
RELS 408/PHIL 408 Indian Tradition
RELS 410/PHIL 410/INTL 410 The Chinese Tradition in Philosophy
RELS 412/PHIL 412/INTL 412 Zen Buddhism
RELS 442 Seminar in Hinduism

Methods: Select one of the following courses (3 credits).
RELS 333/PSYC 333 Psychology and Religious Experience
RELS 360/SOCY 360 Sociology of Religion
RELS 361/ENGL 361 The Bible as Literature
RELS 430/PHIL 430 Philosophy of Religion

Themes: Select one of the following courses (3 credits).
RELS 250 Death: Myth and Reality
RELS 326/PHIL 326 Existentialism
RELS 334 Religion in Contemporary America
RELS 340/INTL 341 Global Ethics and the World’s Religions
RELS 350/INTL 360 World Classics of Spirituality
RELS 362 Shakespeare and Religion
RELS 371/WMNS 371 Islam and Women
RELS 372/WMNS/INTL 372 Global Women’s Spirituality
RELS 373/WMNS 373 Women and the Bible
RELS 401/LFSC 401 Faith and Life Sciences
RELS 425/ANTH 425/INTL 425 Religion, Magic and Witchcraft
RELS 440/PHIL 430 Mysticism
RELS 450/INTL 449 Religion, Globalization, and Social Justice
RELS 451/AFAM 451/INTL 451 Religion, Racism and Social Justice
RELS 453/WMNS 453/INTL 453 Western Religions, Women and Social Justice
RELS 455/INTL 456 Catholic Ethics and Social Justice

Western religions: Select two of the following courses (6 credits).
RELS 280 Introduction to Catholic Studies
RELS 301 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible
RELS 302 Introduction to the New Testament
RELS 303 Intertestamental Literature and Thought
RELS 305 Hebrew Prophets
RELS/INTL 306 Introduction to Judaism
RELS 307/AFAM 307/INTL 307 Black Religion
RELS 308/HIST 307 The High Middle Ages
RELS 309/HIST 309 The Reformation
RELS 312 Religions of the World
RELS 313 Life and Literature of Paul
RELS 314 Jesus in the New Testament Tradition
RELS 315, 316/HIST 301, 302 The Ancient Near East
RELS 317/INTL 317 Islam
RELS 318, 319/ HIST 325, 326 History of the Jewish People
RELS 327/HIST 327 History of Christianity
RELS 335/HIST 335 The American Jewish Experience
RELS 371/WMNS 371 Islam and Women
RELS 373/WMNS 373 Women and the Bible
RELS 380 Contemporary Catholic Thought
RELS 407 Modern Jewish Thought
RELS 409/INTL 409 Modern Islamic Thought and Global Trends
RELS 441/INTL 441 Islamic Mysticism: the Sufis

Click here to download a sample outline. [PDF]



Comments/feedback about this site   |   Bulletin (catalog) archives/printer-friendly bulletins   |   About these bulletins

Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, Virginia
Contact us:

Last update: 6/5/2013

Created by VCU University Relations