From first courses in historical religious traditions to comparative and theoretical courses, you will develop not only a historically nuanced view of religious traditions, but also a sense of religion as a deeply human phenomenon.

You will examine cultural and social expressions of those religions (sacred texts, rituals, instances of ecstasy and enthusiasm, reflective writings, institutions) at a particular period, over time, and in relation to broader historical, philosophical and ethical issues.

  • People who are religious, practice various religious traditions, and those who are not religious
  • Opening your mind, challenging your current belief, and making your own belief stronger
  • The origin, history, and stories of the influential thinkers and religions around the world
  • Anthropology
  • Art History
  • English
  • Gender Studies
  • Government
  • History
  • Languages
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Music Performance


Life After Lawrence

Lawrentians enjoy careers in...

Church administrator, Paramedic, teacher, sales, attorney, marketing, executive director, professor, composition, graphic design

Recent employers include...

Ocean Charter School, University of Iowa, Northshore Bank, Scripps College, Curtis Ambulance, Trinity Presbyterian Church

Lawrentians have gone on for advanced degrees in...

MBA, MA in Theological and Ministerial Studies, Higher Education Administration and Creative Management, Law

At places like...

Washington University, University of Notre Dame, University of Wisconsin Madison, Northwestern University

Experience diverse religious cultures locally and abroad.

Visit sites in Nepal and Senegal to interact with a variety of people and religious expressions. Closer to home you can meet and deepen understanding with the diverse religious communities throughout our region.

Develop the skill to interpret complicated but foundational texts

Engage deeply with texts, learning to read closely and ask questions of the primary texts of the great world religions.

Reflect on fundamental questions.

Discuss questions with faculty and classmates about epistemology (what can we know?), metaphysics (what, ultimately, is real?), and the meaning of life (how ought we to live?)

Writing has rewards.

The E. Graham Waring Prize in Religious Studies, established in 1987, is a monetary prize awarded annually to the student with the best paper written in a religious studies course.

Courses in the Major

  • RLST 100: Introduction to Religious Studies
  • Three 200 level courses on religious traditions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Ancient Egypt)

  • Two 300-level theory courses (Rationality and Religious Belief, Cities of Faith and Power, Nietzsche/Freud, and Religion and Global Systems)
  • One 500-level seminar course

  • RLST 610: Senior Projects


  • Two electives

    (Independent studies/tutorials can be used to fulfill only the elective requirements.)
To graduate, majors must complete a senior capstone project, which includes taking the Senior Projects course and presenting at the RLST symposium at the end of spring term of their senior year.

Course descriptions and more courses

Senior Experiences

The Department of Religious Studies’ Senior Experience is a one-term senior seminar (usually taught in the Spring Term) that examines approaches to the study of religion selected from a school of thought or a more eclectic group of authors. Additionally, students are required to participate in an informal departmental colloquium, in which student work is presented and discussed by majors, minors, and faculty. Students pursuing double majors, double degrees, and education certification are strongly encouraged to consult with their advisors and relevant departments to plan and negotiate their overall Senior Experience as early as possible, especially if they are interested in pursuing an interdisciplinary capstone that integrates their interests in both majors, or combines their student teaching with a project in their major.

Recent Senior Experiences include:


A Comparative Study of Islam: Black Americans, Arab Americans and the Problem of Assimilation

The Contemporary Phenomenon of LaVeyan Satanism


An 11th-Century Shi’a Reception of a Nahj al-Balagha Sermon

“Without cruelty there is no festival ...”: Friedrich Nietzsche on Buddhism, Christianity and the Problem of Suffering


Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan Identity as Constructed in the March 10th Statements of the 14th Dalai Lama