Philosophy and Religious Studies

All Majors & Minors

Philosophy and Religious Studies Requirements

  • The department of philosophy and religious studies comprises two independent programs of study, offering a major and minor in philosophy and a major and a minor in religious studies.

    Philosophy

    Socrates claimed that “the unexamined life is not worth living,” and Aristotle said that philosophy begins in wonder. In fact, philosophical reflection is unavoidable. Fundamental questions and puzzles about the ultimate nature of the world and the mind’s place in it, the possibility of free will, the constituents of consciousness and intentional action, the foundations of moral judgment, and the character of justice animate our deepest thinking and structure our approach to life.

    The American philosopher William James said that philosophy is “nothing but an unusually obstinate effort to think clearly.” That accurately describes our courses. Applying distinctively philosophical methods in studying both historical figures like Aristotle and Descartes and the best contemporary work, students learn to think rigorously, critically and creatively and to express their ideas effectively.

    Requirements for Majors

    A major in philosophy requires PHIL/MATH-260; and either PHIL/POL-237 or PHIL-240 or PHIL-340; and six other four-credit courses (with at most two from the 100-level); and one of the following: PHIL-404W, 437W (Senior Seminars). Students pursuing honors in Philosophy should also register for PHIL-491W and PHIL-492W in succession.

    Requirements for Minors

    A minor concentration in philosophy requires PHIL/MATH-260; and either PHIL/POL-237 or PHIL-240 or PHIL-340; and any three four-credit courses (with at most one from the 100-level).

    Note: With the permission of the Department Chair, a student may take HIST-341 to fulfill requirements for a major or minor in philosophy.

    Religious Studies

    Religious studies majors develop an informed awareness of the world’s religious traditions through the scholarly and theoretical study of religious ideas, practices, and communities, both contemporary and historical. Courses in religious studies also examine the critical role of religion in the world today. By taking courses in religious studies, the student will gain a critical knowledge of the reality of religious difference and acquire expertise in the skills of interpreting and analyzing religious practices, texts, and artifacts.

    Requirements for Majors

    A major in Religious Studies requires RELS-111 and RELS-212; either RELS-233, RELS-234, or RELS-236; RELS-404W (Senior Seminar); in addition to five other four-credit courses in Religious Studies. Religious Studies majors will fulfill the College’s capstone and oral presentation requirements by taking RELS-404W. Students pursuing honors in Religious Studies should also register for RELS-491 and RELS-492 in succession.

    Requirements for Minors

    A minor in religious studies requires RELS-111 (World Religions); and four other four-credit courses in Religious Studies.

    Note: With the permission of the Department Chair, a student may take SOC-235, HIST 342, HIST-363 or HIST-364 to fulfill requirements for a major or minor in religious studies.