Religion is a major force in shaping human culture, and religious factors are prominent in many current social, ethical, cultural and political issues. The study of religion in the university setting provides students with a broad knowledge of human culture, a specific knowledge of types of religious experience and expression, the variety of religious practices and doctrines, a background in the major religions of the world and an understanding of the interrelationship between religion and other areas of human experience.
Students of religion acquire the critical thinking and communication skills valued by employers in diverse fields, from finance to law to medicine to the nonprofit sector. Additional possible careers include those in secondary school teaching, publishing, social service, journalism and law.
The major in religious studies is designed to give graduates a sophisticated understanding of the forms and varieties of religion that have appeared in human culture. The program does not provide the sort of specialized religious training associated with seminary education. The curriculum leading to the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree is a rigorous academic program that draws from the humanities, arts and social sciences to provide a descriptive and analytical approach to religious traditions and phenomena. Emphasis is placed on the interrelations between religion and other aspects of human experience, such as politics, science, literature and the arts.
Students explore many forms of religious expression, including myth, symbol, ritual, theology, ethics, scriptures, dance, social institutions and religious doctrine. They can also choose courses from a wide range of offerings that include: women and religion; religion and dance; Tantra; religion, peace and war; Christianity and democracy; ritual and media; the history of religion and religious relations; the Bible in Judaism and Christianity; and Islam.
The MA in Religious Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder offers an opportunity for rigorous, intensive scholarship on a wide variety of topics and themes within the academic study of religion. Students who complete the program will have a broad understanding of the field, with special emphasis on issues of theory and method, as well as indepth knowledge of their chosen area of specialization.
At the graduate level, the department’s faculty supervise study in aspects of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, religions in America, religions in the Mediterranean, religions in Asia and several indigenous traditions. Areas of thematic strength include: religion and the body; ritual studies; religion, play and dance; religion and the environment; politics, law and religion; religion, gender and sexuality; and religion, peace and war.
The faculty is highly interdisciplinary and encourages students to explore their unique interests in ways best suited to their individual goals. Each student works closely with a faculty advisor to determine the best way to achieve those goals. In addition, religious studies faculty maintain close relations with scholars in other departments of the university, including anthropology, sociology, Asian languages and civilizations, comparative literature, history, philosophy, classics, women and gender studies, theatre and dance and fine arts. MA students may take courses in other departments with their advisor’s approval. In addition, the department offers a dual MA degree with either the Department of History or the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures for those students who desire a truly interdisciplinary program of study.