Religious Studies Major Guide for 2011-2012

What is Religious Studies

Religious studies is a field of study that investigates and analyzes the phenomenon of religion in both historical and contemporary contexts.  The Department of Religious Studies teaches courses that focus upon the various dimensions of religion (beliefs, practices, values, experiences, myths, as well as material and political forms of expression) in addition to a range of religious traditions from all over the world.  Its major and minor programs of study provide students with a well-rounded introduction to the academic study of religion in its modern comparative, cross-cultural, and multidisciplinary format, as well related disciplines (e.g. history, anthropology, linguistics, psychology, sociology).

The program is also a good introduction to the study of cultural diversity and intercultural knowledge, 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, namely history, law, anthropology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, art, ect.

Career Opportunities in Religious Studies

A course of study in religious studies can also be excellent preparation for students interested in careers in law, journalism, education, ministry, psychotherapy, overseas and domestic government service, humanitarian and social work.

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.

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 departmental secretary.

Requirements for Religious Studies

The basic concentration, consisting of 30 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) Europe and the Middle East, 2) North America and Africa, 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.  Religious Studies faculty lecture regularly on campus and in the wider Knoxville community on a range of interesting topics that pertain to the ongoing, if not growing, significance of religion in the lives of individuals, communities, nation-states, and global civil society.

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 web site ( or the Ready for the World web site ( 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 web site ( 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

Following this four-year plan will help you stay on track to graduate in four years.  Milestone courses have been identified as the minimum courses that must be completed.

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
Milestone courses: English 101, Quantitative Reasoning (3 hrs) and a social science (3 hrs)
Sophomore Year Credit Hours
Non-US History Sequence 6
Natural Science 3
Foreign Language or General Electives 6
Arts and Humanities 6
Social Sciences 6
Religious Studies (major) 3
Milestone courses: English 102, elementary foreign language proficiency and a natural science (3-4 hrs)
Junior Year Credit Hours
Religious Studies Major (300 level or above) 12
Arts and Humanities 3
Upper Level Distribution 6
Upper Division Electives 3
Communicating Orally 3
Social Sciences 3
Senior Year Credit Hours
Religious Studies Major (300 level or above) 12
Religious Studies 499 3
Upper Division Electives 6
Communicating Through Writing 3
General Electives 5
GRAND TOTAL (minimum) 120


For More Information

See the departmental secretary or visit the web site



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.