• Department of Religious Studies Students and Faculty
    C.Kutschbach (RS Major) at the RS Honor Society Table.
Department of Religious Studies

Understanding religion is an essential requirement for living productive and ethical lives.

» Become a Twenty-First Century Global Citizen!

Harry Potter

Study religion around the world to learn a global range of human understandings, from life’s meaning and purpose, what it means to be truly human, and how we relate to the “heaven and earth and the myriad things."

Religion at Chapman University explores human understandings of these key issues from diverse places and cultures as they develop across changing circumstances and encounters with each other.

Religion is a key feature of the identities of individuals and communities, and has tremendous power and impact on our personal lives as well as our local, national, and global communities. With religions’ divergent worldviews, moral codes, and conceptions of life’s meaning and purpose, as well as the crucial role it plays in history, politics, law, the arts, and so much more, being able to understand religion and developing inter-religious literacy is an essential requirement for living productive and ethical lives as global citizens in our world today.

Pictured above: Students travel to UK for Harry Potter Course (REL 33).

Student and Faculty ResearchWork directly with faculty on research!

Christopher Baier, a double major in Religious Studies and Film, traveled with Professor Nancy Martin to India to work on a documentary film project entitled “Patterns for Peace: India as a Model for Peace in a Multi-Religious Society.”

Students have had the opportunity to personally interview Holocaust survivors, working as research assistants with Professor Marilyn Harran on the Indestructible Spirit Photography and Biography Project.

Shauna Crahan, Peace Studies Major with a Religious Studies emphasis, attended the 4th Parliament of World Religions in Barcelona, Spain with Professor Nancy Martin, meeting religious studies scholars and religious leaders and practitioners from around the world.

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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.

In addition to developing essential skills for critical thinking and ethical decision-making, students completing the major in religious studies will be able to analyze and assess the global range of religious beliefs and practices in historical and cultural context, appraise the roles religion plays in community and cultural life and synthesize research results and formulate written arguments on topics in religious studies.

The major in Religious Studies at Chapman is:

  • Global in Scope
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Individualized

Major and Minor Shared Requirements

Required Courses:

  • Living Religions of the World
  • The Study of Religion
  • Junior Senior Seminar
  • Capstone Senior Project: The individualized student capstone project is the culmination of the major in Religious Studies. Students work closely with a faculty advisor and mentor to develop a project tailored to their individual interests and professional goals. Topics are as diverse and creative as the students in our department and include a wide range of religious traditions, methodological approaches and issues. 

Electives Courses:

  • Scriptures and Traditions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam
  • Scriptures and Traditions: Asian Traditions
  • Philosophy of Religion and Theology
  • Religion, Ethics and Society

Additional Major Requirements:

Majors also select 3 additional courses in an individualized area of concentration, working closely with faculty advisors and culminating a capstone research project. Students are encouraged to study abroad and incorporate internships into their academic program.  For those students wanting to study primary religious texts in their original languages, our faculty can provide individualized instruction in languages such as Hebrew, Coptic, and Greek.

Double Majoring and Minoring in Other Fields:

The Religious Studies major is streamlined to facilitate students’ double-majoring or minoring in a second field.  Many of our students double major in fields such as philosophy, political science, film, English literature, psychology, the arts, and music.  For those wishing to minor in an additional field, Wilkinson offers complementary interdisciplinary minors in addition to those in standard disciplines:

Majors also select an individualized area of concentration can develop an Interdisciplinary Toolbox to study Religious Phenomena:

  • Textual Studies
  • Philosophical Analysis
  • Psychology
  • Literary Criticism
  • Political Science
  • History
  • Theology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Sociology
  • Economics

Students interested in Religious Studies, but not majoring or minoring in religion, may choose to enroll in one of the following General Education Inter/Multidisciplinary Clusters:

  • Religion and the Arts
  • Histories and Religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam
  • Comparative World Religions
  • Histories and Religions of the East
  • Asian Studies

WHAT IS A CLUSTER? A cluster lets you study one disciplinary subject in depth or one topic from several disciplinary approaches. The “multidisciplinary” approach lets you develop some expertise in an area outside your major program. The “interdisciplinary” approach lets you study an area or topic from several different disciplinary perspectives. In either case, the effect is breadth of learning as well as depth of knowledge.  

Theta Alpha Kappa: National Honor Society

Theta Alpha KappaTheta Alpha Kappa is the National Honor Society for Religious Studies students which seeks to encourage and recognize excellence in the academic study of religion. This club is also dedicated to learning about and celebrating the diversity of religions at Chapman University and throughout the world.

TAK sponsors Chapman's religious studies club, which is a non-devotional and non-denominational group dedicated to creating a community of students, professors and faculty members who are willing to support one another in intellectual exploration.

As a member of the Interfaith Council, TAK actively engages with Chapman's diverse religious community, hosting events such as, the Hunger Banquet, Interfaith Dialogue Series, and Speed Faithing.

Honorary membership is open to all, but members must meet certain requirements to be part of the national honor society. Benefits of being a national member include the opportunity to apply for scholarships and to submit papers for publication in TAK's academic journal.

For more information, please visit the national website, contact Professor Julye Bidmead or email chapmantak@gmail.com. 

Study Abroad and Internship Opportunities

Study AbroadAt Chapman, students can study religion in the classroom, but they are also encouraged to experience religion in local, national and international communities through study abroad programs and internships.

Study Abroad
The Religious Studies Department is committed to global education and considers travel abroad a vital part of their students’ undergraduate education. Study abroad gives students the opportunity to enrich their study further by studying in different cultures, experiencing living religions and the people who practice them in diverse global contexts. Did you know that Chapman offers a course on Religion, Race, and Gender in Harry Potter (REL 333) and you travel to London? Visit the Center for Global Education for more information on study abroad opportunities.

We encourage Religious Studies majors to engage in internships as part of their academic program. Here are some examples of recent internships our majors have participated in.

  • Shared Hope International in Washington DC.
  • United Nations Association of Orange County
  • Child Abuse Prevention Center in Orange County
  • Orange County Equity Coalition

Learn more information about internships. 

Religious Studies Across the Campus

Marilyn Harran Holoacaust EventReligious Studies at Chapman extends far beyond the courses offered by the Religious Studies department. Chapman is also home to a number of Centers and Institutes that intersect with the study of religion and offer a variety of programs on campus:

Visiting Griset Chair in Bible and Christian Tradition

The Griset Chair in Bible and Christian Tradition was the first endowed chair at Chapman University, established in 1984 in the name of Belle Griset, whose son Francis Griset served as a Chapman Trustee for many years. This Chair was held formerly by our esteemed colleague Prof. Marvin Meyer until his untimely passing in 2012.  Now as a visiting position, this Chair allows Chapman students the unique opportunity to take courses with leading biblical scholars from around the world. Below is a list of those that have served in the position.

  • 2019: Dale Allison
  • 2018: James Charlesworth
  • 2017: Paul Anderson
  • 2016: Lee MacDonald
  • 2014-2015: Donald Hagner

Learn more about these scholars ...

Contact Us

Smith Hall 202
(714) 997-6636

Department Chair
Nancy Martin

Group of people posing for photo.

Why Study Religion?

See what the American Academy of Religion has to say.
Albert Schweitzer at his desk

Albert Schweitzer Student Scholarships

Chapman awards scholarships to students who have demonstrated a record of excellence in both their academic work and their commitment to a life of service. Religious Studies students are encouraged to apply! Learn more!