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Undergraduate Catalog 2016-2017

Religious Studies

Jewish Studies Program (JWST) 
4141 Susquehanna Hall, 301-405-4975

Religious Studies is an interdisciplinary field that enables students to study the texts, culture, history, beliefs, and practices of the religions of the world, present and past.  The minor in Religious Studies draws from a wide range of departments and programs (including Anthropology, Art History, Classics, English, History, Jewish Studies, and Philosophy) and offers the opportunity for both in-depth and wide-ranging study.  A required core course introduces students to religions of the world and to the academic study of religion (students may take either RELS 216 or RELS289I).  In addition to this course, students are required to take three courses at the upper level and another two at any level.  Completion of coursework includes fulfillment of a breadth requirement, which demonstrates that students have been exposed to a variety of religious traditions, periods, and geographic regions.  Selection of courses in consultation with the advisor will ensure that students complete this breadth requirement.

Many courses are now offered with the RELS prefix. Other regularly-offered courses that may be counted toward the minor are: ARTH200, ARTH201, ARTH250, ARTH290, ARTH314, ARTH376, CHIN316, CLAS170, CLAS470, ENGL262, GERM283, GERM287, HIST111, HIST120, HIST282, HIST284, HIST306, HIST332, HIST480, PHIL236, and many courses in JWST and HONR. Other courses may be taken with the permission of the minor advisor.


  • RELS216 or RELS289I: Introduction to the Study of World Religions.

  • Three courses at the 300-level or above. These courses can be in any of a variety of subjects, chosen in consultation with an advisor.  See Breadth requirement below.

  • Two additional courses at any level. Chosen in consultation with an advisor. See Breadth requirement.

Breadth requirement
The breadth requirement ensures that students are exposed to a diversity of religious phenomena. Most Religious Studies students will complete this requirement simply by selecting from the wide variety of courses available to them. Students with particular interests (in a single approach, like Art History, or a single setting, like contemporary North America) will need to take at least one course that falls outside their particular focus of interest. Students will need to demonstrate:

A. Exposure to a diversity of religious traditions (understood to include African religions, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, among others), in coursework that extends beyond a single geographic area (such as the Americas, Asia, or the Mediterranean world).

B. Exposure to diverse temporal periods (including antiquity, the medieval and early modern periods, and modernity).

C. Experience of multiple approaches to religious phenomena or the study of religion (for example, art history, philosophy, historical approaches, and comparative methods).

D. Depth: At least one course must incorporate the focused study of a single religious tradition or cluster of traditions (see item A for traditions).

Examples: A student with academic focus in religions of the ancient Mediterranean might complete the breadth requirement with a single course on Asian religions. A student concentrating on art historical approaches to religion might take one course in philosophy or literature. A student whose interests run to comparative and cross-cultural coursework might take a course in the focused study of a single tradition.

  • A minimum of 9 credits must be at the upper level.
  • All courses must be passed with a grade of "C-" or above.
  • An overall GPA of 2.0 in the minor is required for graduation.
  • A list of qualifying courses is available from the advisor to the RELS program.
  • At least six credits of upper-level credit must be taken at the University of Maryland.
  • No more than six credits may be taken at an institution other than Maryland.
  • In keeping with University policy, no more than six credits may also be applied to a major.

To make an appointment to explore or declare a minor, go to www.arhu.umd.edu/undergraduate/academics/minors .

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