Program Information

Religious Studies at Willamette University offers students the opportunity to engage in the critical study of religion as a pervasive aspect of human culture. In Religious Studies courses students learn how to formulate critical questions about religious traditions and phenomena. They acquire a knowledge base adequate to a nuanced and meaningful understanding of a variety of religions, including beliefs, practices, cultural contexts and distinctive histories. Students develop as well the capacity to assess the truth claims and other contributions to human culture made by the leaders, scholars, communities, and texts associated with religion.

Requirements for the Religious Studies Major (8 Credits)

Elective courses (6 credits) from the following areas:

  • 3 electives must be at the 300-level
  • At least 1 elective must be taken from each of the Areas "A," "B," and "C"
  • Up to 2 courses may be counted from Area "D"

Area A - Sources of the Western Tradition

  • REL 113 (TH) Introduction to Old Testament/Hebrew Bible
  • REL 114 (IT) History and Literature of Early Christianity
  • REL 223 History and Literature of Early Judaism
  • REL 225 (IT) Forgotten Scriptures: Apocryphal Literature and the Origins of Christianity
  • REL 227 (TH; 4th Sem Lang Req) Paganism: The Religions of Greece and Rome
  • REL 242 Hebrew Prophets
  • REL 322 (TH) In Search of the Historical Jesus
  • REL 331 The Gospel of John (.5)
  • REL 335W (IT) Paul of Tarsus
  • REL 340 (4th Sem Lang Req) Hebrew Torah/Pentateuch
  • REL 341 Religions of the Ancient World
  • REL 390 Independent Study (.5 or 1)

Area B - Development of the Western Tradition

  • REL 110 History of Christianity I: 100 - 700 C.E.
  • REL 111 History of Christianity II: 700 - 1648 C.E.
  • REL 214 (TH) Religion in America
  • REL 230 Modern European Christian Thought
  • REL 244 Introduction to Judaism
  • REL 252 Soul Food: Eating and Drinking in Western Religion
  • REL 254 Three American Traditions of Spirituality
  • REL 320 Religion and Science
  • REL 333 Topics in Contemporary American Theology
  • REL 334 (EV) Liberation Theology and Social Change
  • REL 370 (EV) Ethics and Vocation
  • REL 390 Independent Study (.5 or 1)

Area C - Asian and Comparative Studies

Area D - Courses from Other Departments Counting Toward the Religious Studies Major or Minor

  • ANTH 353 Myth, Ritual and Religion
  • ARTH 351W (IT) Christian Art and Iconography
  • CHNSE 252 (US) Rites of Passage in Chinese Societies
  • HIST 131 (TH) Historical Inquiry: The Crusades (Note: one the topic on the Crusades counts)
  • HIST 259 American Jewish History
  • PHIL 235W Philosophical Ethics
  • PHIL 325 Kierkegaard, Meaning and the Self
  • POLI 314 (EV) Politics and Religion in the United States

Senior Experience (2 Credits):

Requirements for the Religious Studies Minor (5 Credits)

  • 5 elective courses
    • 2 electives must be at the 300-level
    • At least 1 elective must be taken from each of the Areas "A," "B," and "C"
    • 1 course may be counted from Area "D"

Program Requirement Details:

At the end of their Junior year, Religious Studies majors will interview with the Religious Studies Faculty to determine the focus for their Senior Experience. The Senior Experience will consist of 2 courses: 1) a Senior Directed Study (REL 490) with an advisor whose expertise most closely matches the interests of the student; 2) a Senior Directed Thesis (REL 496W), normally directed by the same advisor with whom the student has completed his/her Senior Directed Study. In REL 490: Senior Directed Study the student will a) acquire a knowledge base adequate to undertaking a Senior Thesis in an area of interest to him/her, b) survey a variety of methods and theories of religion, and c) develop a theoretical framework and method adequate to pursuing a thesis in his/her area. At the conclusion of the Senior Directed Study the student will complete a thesis proposal. In REL 496W: Senior Directed Thesis the student will write his/her thesis under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Normally the Senior Directed Study and the Senior Directed Thesis will be completed in consecutive semesters. Both of these courses will be offered as multiple sections, each with a different Religious Studies professor enrolling one student. All sections of these courses will include a colloquium meeting bi-weekly for 2 hours with other students engaged in the senior experience and their faculty advisors, where they will present their work to peers and faculty and mark their progress toward the completion of the Senior Experience.