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- 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
- Obtain a copy of your Cornell transcript. Request a transcript online.
- Fill out the major application or minor application.
- Schedule an appointment with Director of Religious Studies Kim Haines-Eitzen to review your application and transcript.
- Send completed and signed form to Undergrad Coordinator Ayla Cline.
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.
The applicant must have completed at least one religious studies (RELST) course in order to apply.
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 statisfy 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.
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.
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.
Open to religious studies majors who have done superior work and who wish to devote a substantial part of their senior year to advanced, specialized, independent research and writing of a thesis.
Find more information on our honors program page.
Weiner Family Summer Fellowship
This prize, given in honor of Gelek Rimpoche, supports funding for summer experiential learning and research (limited to travel, research materials, and living expenses) for an undergraduate student studying Buddhist practice. Due to global health concerns we will now accept applications for Summer 2020 from students hoping to do library research on Buddhist practice without traveling abroad. Preference will be given to a student with strong coursework in religious studies and Asian religions.
Apply for the fellowship:
Complete proposals should include a description of proposed praxis to be studied, one letter of reference from a faculty member and a budget.
Students should submit proposals to Ayla Cline, undergraduate coordinator for religious studies. Submit your proposal by email. The deadline is extended to May 15, 2020.
A report summarizing your trip or research should be submitted to Ayla Cline in 409 White Hall, following your summer travel or research.