Religion Major and Minor

At Haverford, we see the study of religion not only as an end in itself, but also as a powerful inroad to understanding human culture and social life in all its variety. Here, you will find faculty and students who are fascinated by the diversity of human expressions of meaning, eager to work across disciplinary boundaries, and energized by a departmental community that is as collaborative as it is demanding.

Curriculum & Courses

With faculty possessing expertise in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and African American religions, as well as a range of methodologies, we engage students in the breadth of religious studies scholarship. At the same time, we foster the analytical skills necessary to independent and critical thinking. And we encourage our undergraduates to enhance their investigations through coursework in departments throughout the College.

Religion majors fashion a course of study around one of three designated concentrations: Religious Traditions in Cultural Context; Religion, Literature, and Representation; or Religion, Ethics, and Society. Each affords students exceptional mentorship and support in addition to great flexibility in subject matter.

  • Major

    The major in religion is designed to help students develop a coherent set of academic skills and expertise in the study of religion, while at the same time encouraging interdisciplinary work in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. The major consists of 11 courses with the following requirements:

    • Five courses within an area of concentration: each major is expected to fashion a coherent major program focused around work in one of three designated areas of concentration:
      • Religious Traditions in Cultural Context. The study of religious traditions and the textual, historical, sociological and cultural contexts in which they develop. Critical analysis of formative texts and issues that advance our notions of religious identities, origins, and ideas.
      • Religion, Literature, and Representation. The study of religion in relation to literary expressions and other forms of representation, such as performance, music, film, and the plastic arts.
      • Religion, Ethics, and Society. The exploration of larger social issues such as race, gender, and identity as they relate to religion and religious traditions. Examines how moral principles, cultural values, and ethical conduct help to shape human societies.
        The five courses within the area of concentration must include at least one department seminar at the 300 level. Where appropriate and relevant to the major’s program, up to two courses for the major may be drawn from outside the field of religion, subject to departmental approval.
    • RELG H299 (Theoretical Perspectives in the Study of Religion).                                                                         
    • RELG H398A and RELG H399B, a two-semester senior seminar and thesis program.                                           
    • Three additional half-year courses drawn from outside the major’s area of concentration.                                   
    • Junior Colloquium: an informal required gathering of the junior majors once each semester. Students should complete the Religion Major Worksheet in advance in consultation with their major advisor and bring copies of the completed worksheet to the meeting.

    At least six of each major’s 11 courses must be taken in the Haverford Religion Department.In some rare cases, students may petition the department for exceptions to the major requirements. Such petitions must be presented to the department for approval in advance.

    Final evaluation of the major program will consist of written work, including a thesis, and an oral conversation completed in the context of the Senior Seminar (RELG H398A and 399B).

    Advising for the major takes place in individual meetings between majors and faculty advisors and in a departmental Junior Colloquium held once each semester. At this colloquium, junior majors will present their proposed programs of study with particular attention to their work in the area of concentration. All majors should fill out and bring the Religion Major Worksheet to the colloquium.

  • Minor

    The minor in religion, like the major, is designed to help students develop a coherent set of academic skills and expertise in the study of religion, while at the same time encouraging interdisciplinary work in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. The minor consists of six courses with the following requirements:

    • Five courses within an area of concentration, with at least one at the 300 level:
      • Religious Traditions in Cultural Context. The study of religious traditions and the textual, historical, sociological and cultural contexts in which they develop. Critical analysis of formative texts and issues that advance our notions of religious identities, origins, and ideas.                                    
      • Religion, Literature, and Representation. The study of religion in relation to literary expressions and other forms of representation, such as performance, music, film, and the plastic arts.         
      • Religion, Ethics, and Society. The exploration of larger social issues such as race, gender, and identity as they relate to religion and religious traditions. Examines how moral principles, cultural values, and ethical conduct help to shape human societies.
    • RELG H299 (Theoretical Perspectives in the Study of Religion).
    • Junior Colloquium: an informal required gathering of the junior majors once each semester. Students should complete the Religion Minor Worksheet in advance in consultation with their major advisor and bring copies of the completed worksheet to the meeting.

    All six courses must be taken in the Haverford Religion Department. In some rare cases, students may petition the department for exceptions to the minor requirements. Such petitions must be presented to the department for approval in advance.

Research & Outreach

All religion majors produce a thesis—a work of original research—over the course of their senior year. During the fall semester, students define a topic, narrow its focus, and formulate a proposal. In the spring, they participate in the Senior Seminar in Religion—in which they share their work with faculty and peers and receive and offer valuable feedback—and bring their projects to fruition. After submitting their theses, each religion major participates in an oral discussion with department faculty.

After Graduation

Haverford’s religion majors graduate with the broad skills and perspectives that are the hallmarks of a liberal arts education. On top of that, they possess a keen understanding and appreciation of multiculturalism and a rigorous and intensely humanistic approach to behavior. Prepared to pursue advanced graduate degrees in religious studies or other areas, they are also equipped to enter careers in a great range of fields.

Keep Exploring

More Programs

Check out our other academic offerings:

Get in Touch

Join the Mailing List or search for events in your area.

You can find detailed instructions and information on the Application Instructions page. If you need to contact us directly, please send an email to admission@haverford.edu.

Contact Us