The major in religious studies requires 9 courses, distributed as follows:
1. Concentration (4 courses)
Four courses in one of the following 4 concentrations or a specialized concentration:
The specialized concentration must be created in consultation with a CMC religious studies faculty member and approved by the department chair. Examples of specialized concentrations include:
- South Asian Religions
- Jewish Studies
- New Testament & Christian Origins
- American Religions
- Religion and Politics
- Religion, Politics, & International Relations
- Religion and Film Studies
2. Electives (3 courses)
Majors take any 3 elective courses in religious studies, 2 of which must be outside of the concentration selected above. Students may select off-campus, cross-listed, and other courses in any of the above concentrations for the elective courses with approval of the department chair.
3. Integrative Religious Studies (2 courses)
Senior Thesis in Religious Studies
The senior thesis is a general education requirement and the capstone experience of a student’s undergraduate education. Students must complete a senior thesis in at least one of their majors under supervision of a faculty reader who teaches within that major, unless granted a special exception.
Special Options for Majors
Students who wish to supplement a major in another discipline - for example, economics, government, history, literature, or psychology - with substantial study in religious studies, are encouraged to complete a dual major including religious studies.
The dual major in religious studies requires a minimum of 7 courses, distributed as follows:
1. Religious Studies (6 courses)
Six religious studies courses chosen in consultation with the student’s departmental advisor.
2. Integrative Religious Studies (1 course)
One course chosen from:
- Students with a dual major including religious studies are encouraged to write their senior thesis on a topic in their major. For further information, see Senior Thesis in Religious Studies above.
Honors in Religious Studies
To be eligible for honors in religious studies, a student majoring in religious studies must:
- Earn a grade point average of 10.50 or better in major courses, and
- Be voted honors by the members of the department.
Theta Alpha Kappa
Claremont McKenna College is a member of The Claremont Colleges’ chapter of Theta Alpha Kappa, honorary Religious Studies/Theology society. Students are elected to membership on the basis of academic standing and regulations for eligibility established by the chapter and the national society. For further information, contact Professor Gilbert.
General Education Requirements for Humanities Majors
For the general education requirement in the social sciences and the humanities, CMC students majoring in a field of the humanities must take designated courses in 3 of the 4 fields of the social sciences (economics, government, history, and psychology), and in 3 of the 4 fields of the humanities (literature, philosophy, religious studies, and literature in a foreign language). Majors with a dual or double major in either the humanities or the social sciences will be required to take an additional course in those categories.
Learning Goals and Student Learning Outcomes of the Religious Studies Program
The learning goals of the program in Religious Studies are:
- To study the fundamental ideas, practices, and institutions that have shaped and defined religious traditions and communities.
- To understand the intersection of religious traditions with other realms of human experience including social, political, economic, and cultural.
- To understand the theories and methods (e.g. literary criticism, gender theory, post-modern and post-colonial analysis) used in the study of religion.
Student Learning Outcomes
The student learning outcomes for the major are:
- Students will demonstrate an understanding of the texts, beliefs, and practices of more than one religious tradition.
- Students will be able to trace the historical development of at least one religious tradition from its origin to the present.
- Students will be able to identify and analyze the intersections between religious traditions and major social and cultural issues (e.g. politics, gender, ethnicity, race, ethics).
- Students will be able to work with multiple sources of information (e.g. textual, performative, material, philosophical) used in the study of religion.
- Students will demonstrate proficiency in a variety of disciplinary approaches to the study of religion (e.g. historical, philosophical, anthropological).
- Students will be able to analyze and assess religious phenomena through the use of critical theories (e.g. literary criticism, gender theory, post-modern and post-colonial analysis).