The major requires nine courses, distributed as follows:
- Four courses in one of the following four 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.
- Historical Religious Traditions I, Asian
- Historical Religious Traditions II, Western
- Philosophy of Religion, Theology, and Ethics
- Contemporary and Women’s Studies of Religion
- Specialized concentration-
- South Asian Religions
- Jewish Studies
- New Testament & Christian Origins
- American Religions
- Religion and Politics
- Religion, Politics, & International Relations
- Religion and Film Studies
- Three Elective Courses
Majors take any three elective courses in religious studies, two of which must be outside of the concentration selected in (1) 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.
- Two Integrative Religious Studies 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.
Dual majors including religious studies must take at least seven courses in religious studies, including:
The remaining six courses are chosen in consultation with the student’s departmental advisor.
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.
Note the restrictions on honors in the major for students with a dual major under Honors in Religious Studies below. For further information on dual majors and the requirements for the other discipline of the dual major, check the appropriate sections of this catalog.
Honors in Religious Studies
To be eligible for honors in religious studies, students must:
- Complete a major in religious studies,
- Earn a grade point average of 10.50 or better in major courses, and
- Be voted honors by the members of the department.
Students with a dual major including religious studies who wish to be considered for honors in religious studies will only receive honors if they:
- Have completed all requirements for a full major in religious studies and are granted honors, or
- Qualify and receive honors in both disciplines of their dual major. See Academic Honors at Graduation for details.
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.
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).
General Education Requirement Information
Religious studies requirement: Any CMC religious studies course numbered under 180 may be used to fulfill the general education requirement in religious studies. With permission of the department chair at CMC, appropriate courses in religious studies at the other Claremont Colleges may also be counted for this requirement.
Religious studies majors: For the general education requirement in the social sciences and the humanities, CMC students majoring in religious studies must take designated courses in three of the four fields of the social sciences (economics, government, history, and psychology), and in three of the four fields of the humanities (literature, philosophy, religious studies, and literature in a foreign language). Religious studies majors with a dual or double major in either the humanities or the social sciences will be required to take an additional general education course in those categories.
All CMC students are encouraged to study abroad during their junior year. Study abroad and language study appropriate to the specialized field are strongly encouraged. Students planning to study religious studies abroad should consult with the department chair to determine which off-campus courses will be accepted by the Department of Religious Studies.