Undergraduate Study

Major

Learning Outcomes

  • The ability to analyze, interpret, and write about the history, texts, and practices of one religious tradition in depth
  • Strong analytical skills in comparative research across at least two religious traditions
  • Critical thinking in the theories, interdisciplinary approaches, and methodologies that have been important to the academic study of religion

Prerequisite

Students must have completed at least one religious studies (RELST) course in order to apply for the major. 

Apply

  1. Obtain a copy of your Cornell unofficial transcript. Request a transcript online.
  2. Complete and submit the major application.
  3. Email the Director of Religious Studies to schedule a time to review your application and transcript. 
  4. Acceptance into the major is contingent on the approval of the Director.

Undergraduate students in the College of Arts & Sciences must declare a primary major by the end of their sophomore year. Additional majors can be added in your junior or even senior year. Students should apply to the major as soon as the pre-requisite course is completed to allow enough time to complete all major requirements. 

Major Requirements:

A minimum of 32 credit hours are required for the major.

The sequence and combination of courses to fulfill the major is selected in close consultation with the student's advisor. All courses for the major must be taken for a letter grade and students must receive a grade of "B-" or higher in order for it to count toward the major. No course may be used to satisfy two requirements.

Students must complete nine RELST courses in three areas. Three of these nine courses must be taken at the 4000 level or above; one must be RELST 4449 (required course); one must be in the Depth of Focus area, the last can be in either the Breadth of Religious Traditions or Depth of Focus areas.

Approaches, Methods and Theory of the Academic Study of Religion (two courses):

  • RELST 2273 "Religion and Ecological Sustainability" or RELST 2276 "Sensational Religion"
  • RELST 4449 "History and Methods in the Academic Study of Religions" (required)

Breadth of Religious Traditions (three courses):

Students are required to take at least three courses that treat different religious traditions. The goal here is to obtain breadth across diverse religions, time periods, and regions. Selection of these courses should be made with a student's academic advisor.

Depth of Focus (four courses):

Students are required to take at least four courses with a focus of a given religious tradition, geographical area, thematic concentration, or methodological approach. At least one of these courses must be at the 4000 level or above. 

Note:

While it is not required, we strongly encourage all majors to work on a relevant language during their studies to enhance and deepen this focused work. Students planning to attend graduate school in religious studies or related disciplines (Anthropology, History, area studies, comparative literature, etc.) are strongly encouraged to make language work an ancillary part of their undergraduate major in religious studies. One course in advanced language study can be counted toward the religious studies major, and this by petition only, indicating that the material covered was directly related to the academic study of religion.

Major Advisor

Upon entering the major in religious studies, a student is assigned a faculty advisor whose area of expertise closely matches the proposed interest of the student.

Honors Program

Majors interested in completing a senior thesis in religious studies should apply for the honors program in the second semester of their junior year. 

Minor

Apply

Deadline: Students can apply to the minor no later than the end of week 3 of their final semester at Cornell (usually in early February).

  1. Obtain a copy of your Cornell unofficial transcript. Request a transcript online.
  2. Complete the minor application.
  3. Email the Director of Religious Studies to schedule a time to review your application and transcript. 
  4. Acceptance into the minor is contingent on the approval of the Director.

Minor Requirements

Undergraduates interested in the academic study of religion are invited to apply for a minor in religious studies by taking five RELST courses (minimum of 15 credits) subject to the following conditions:

  • Three courses must be at the 3000 level or above.
  • A minimum grade of "B-" must be received for all courses toward the minor (S/U courses are ineligible).
  • RELST 4449 - History and Methods of the Academic Study of Religion is strongly recommended.
  • Courses must be taken at Cornell or with an approved Cornell program, First-Year Writing Seminars cannot count towards the minor.

Intent

First-third year students may submit an intent to major/minor form at anytime. This does not constitute admission into the major or minor. Students who submit an intent to major/minor form will be added to the program mailing list and will receive announcements about the program and upcoming events.

Top