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Religious Studies Major Guide for 2008-2009

What is Religious Studies

Religious studies is a field that uses different strictly academic disciplines to examine the many ways religion has existed and operated in human cultures throughout history. The Department of Religious Studies teaches many courses that focus upon different general aspects of religion and various religious traditions from all over the world. Its major and minor programs of study provide students a well-rounded introduction to the academic study of religion in conjunction with the various disciplines through which it is pursued (history, anthropology, linguistics, psychology, sociology, and others). The program is also a good introduction to the study of culture more generally, numerous ancient and modern non-Western societies, and various traditions of philosophy, ethics, and theology in their native contexts. The major and minor in religious studies can thus be good preparation for graduate programs in various disciplines and fields in addition to religious studies, history, law, psychology, philosophy, art, etc.

Career Opportunities in Religious Studies

A course of study in religious studies can also be excellent preparation for students interested in careers in ministry, psychotherapy, and social work, as well as professions such as law and journalism.

Salary Trends in Religious Studies

An Arts and Sciences degree can propel students in limitless directions. Majors are not always the deciding factor as to what career path is followed. As with any degree, pre-professional experiences (volunteerism, work experience, internships, etc.) enhance the chances of obtaining desired employment and further affect the projected salary. As a group, Arts and Sciences graduates average $33,258 (

High School Preparation

Courses in the arts and the humanities as well as a solid foundation in communication skills, especially writing, are recommended as the best preparation for course work in this department. Foreign language skills developed in high school can help considerably to deepen the study of religion.

How to Major in Religious Studies

There are no prerequisites to major in religious studies. A student interested in becoming a religious studies major should contact the department advisor, Dr. Rosalind Gwynne, who will help to set up a course of study.

Requirements for Religious Studies

The basic concentration, consisting of 27 hours at the 300 level or above, is designed to assure that students attain skills to analyze and interpret religious phenomena in different cultures and historical periods, including how sacred texts, traditions, and interpretations of critical reasoning inform and are informed by religion. The course of study must include the following areas: 1) West Asia and Europe, 2) Africa and the Americas, 3) South, Southeast, and East Asia 4) Methods and Issues in religious studies.

Highlights of Religious Studies

An important part of the department is the Religious Studies Association for students, faculty and friends of the department, as well as any who may have a general interest in the program. The department fosters cultural programs with national and international guest lecturers, symposia, and special educational and outreach events such as India Semester, China Semester, Middle East Semester, Africa Semester and Holocaust conferences.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

"Ready for the World” is part of a long-range plan to transform the UTK campus into a culture of diversity that best prepares students for working and competing in the 21st century.  Thus students are encouraged to actively participate in the diverse cultural programs offered on campus.  Some of these events include the guest lecture series, cultural nights at the International House, and international film screenings.  Visit the Center for International Education website ( or the Ready for the World website ( for more information on upcoming cultural programs and activities. 
Students are also encouraged to develop a global perspective within their academic program through study abroad.  Visit the Programs Abroad Office website ( for information on study abroad opportunities.

Learn more about UT's Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today's world.

Sample Curriculum

Freshman Year Credit Hours
English Composition 6
Foreign Language 6
Natural Science Lab Sequence 8
Quantitative Reasoning 6-8
Social Science 3
General Elective 0-2
Sophomore Year Credit Hours
Non-US History Sequence 6
Natural Science 3
Foreign Language or General Electives 6
Humanities 6
Social Sciences 6
Religious Studies 300 3
Junior Year Credit Hours
Religious Studies (major) 12
Humanities 3
Upper Level Distribution 6
Upper Division Electives 3
Communicating Orally 3
Social Sciences 3
Senior Year Credit Hours
Religious Studies (major) 9
Religious Studies 400 level 3
Upper Division Electives 6
Communicating Through Writing 3
General Electives 8
GRAND TOTAL (minimum) 120

Dr. Rosalind Gwynne, the departmental advisor, will work with students to develop the major if they are beginning in their sophomore or junior year.  (; 865-974-6988)

For More Information

Dr. Rosalind Gwynne
Departmental Advisor; 865-974-6988



The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.