Department of Religious Studies
Fostering global citizenship through the study of the ideas & practices, power & impact of religion in our world.

Our Mission

The Religious Studies Department offers a major designed to address some of the most interesting and compelling issues in human life and to foster global citizenship through interreligious literacy and an interdisciplinary understanding of religion’s power and impact in our world. Courses in religious studies examine the histories, texts and traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, and indigenous and new religions.  Courses explore diverse understandings of the nature of reality, the meaning of life and death, and the relationship of faith and reason, as well as contemporary challenges of social justice, war and peace, the environmental crisis, medical ethics, human rights and globalization. In this global and interdisciplinary study of the religions of the world, the department reflects the broad ecumenical and pluralist interests of the Disciples of Christ, the founding denomination of the university.

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»Welcome to Religious Studies

Religious StudiesReligions address some of the most interesting and compelling questions in human life:

  • What is the nature of the world, of time and reality?
  • What is the true nature of human beings?
  • Why are we here, and how should we then live?
  • Who are we as a people, and who do we want to be? 

The study of religion explores human understandings of these key issues from diverse places and cultures as they develop across changing circumstances and in encounter with each other. A key feature of the identities of individuals and communities, religions have tremendous power and impact on our personal lives and our local, national and global communities.  With their divergent worldviews, moral codes, and conceptions of the life’s meaning and purpose and the crucial roles religion plays in history, politics, law, the arts and so much more, understanding religion and developing interreligious literacy is an essential requirement for living productive and ethical lives as global citizens in our world today.

TorahThe Religious Studies Department at Chapman University offers courses that are global in scope and cover a broad range of religious traditions and contemporary ethical issues.  Courses explore not only diverse understandings of the nature of reality, the meaning of life and death, and the relationship of faith and reason but also how we might address contemporary challenges of social justice, war and peace, the environmental crisis, medical ethics, human rights and globalization. The study of religion is necessarily interdisciplinary, employing methods from textual studies and archeology to philosophy, history, politics, anthropology, sociology, economics, literary theory, and more, to analyze religious phenomena, ideas, practices and texts.  In this global and interdisciplinary study of the religions of the world, the department reflects the broad ecumenical and pluralistic interest of the Disciples of Christ, the founding denomination of the university.

A religious studies major is excellent preparation for graduate studies in a variety of fields, with religious studies majors consistently scoring among the highest on the analytic sections of graduate entrance exams like the GRE and LSAT. Our graduates have embarked on such careers as teaching, research, ministry, medicine, law, government, business, and journalism. Whatever your future holds, knowledge of religion will enhance your understanding of contemporary politics, history, art, culture, and so much more.  And whether you become a health professional or a teacher, a lawyer or a psychologist, an international business person or a politician, interreligious literacy will be an invaluable asset to you and to your future employers.

+-Faculty

The Religious Studies Faculty members are dedicated teacher-scholars engaged in cutting edge research in their fie
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lds, who bring that expertise into the classroom.  Nationally and internationally recognized for their scholarship and award-winning teachers, religious studies faculty members include the Director of the Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education, the Dean of the Wallace All-Faiths Chapel, and the holders of the Griset Chair in Bible and Christian Studies and the Stern Chair in Holocaust Education. Meet our faculty.

+-Academic Requirements

The requirements for the Religious Studies programs are designed to be flexible and can be tailored to each student’s individual interests and personal and professional goals.  The major is streamlined to facilitate students’ double-majoring or minoring in a second field. Requirements for the major and minor include foundation courses introducing students to the study of religion and the religions of the world; the junior-senior seminar, and electives selected from three areas:

  • Scriptures and traditions
  • Philosophy and theology
  • Religion, ethics and society

Majors also select an individualized area of concentration, working closely with faculty advisors and culminating in a capstone research project.

Learn more about specific academic programs.

+-Our Graduates

A Religious Studies Major is excellent preparation for graduate studies in a variety of fields, with religious studies majors consistently scoring among the highest on the analytic sections of graduate entrance exams like the GRE and LSAT. Our graduates have gone on to graduate study at prestigious universities and programs and embarked on such careers as teaching, research, ministry, clinical psychology, medicine, law, government, business, and journalism.

Whatever your future holds, knowledge of religion will enhance your understanding of contemporary politics, history, art, culture, and so much more.  And whether you become a health professional or a teacher, a lawyer or a psychologist, an international business person or a politician, interreligious literacy will be an invaluable asset to you and to your future employers.  

Chapman University Alumni Site