Goals for the Religion Major
Students who elect a major in Religion will acquire these competencies and skills:
- Students will learn to describe and interpret one of the great religious traditions or a central theme in two or more traditions.
- Students will learn to analyze and assess sacred texts and religious writings, including their specialized rhetoric, forms, and contexts.
- Students will learn to employ critical methods used in contemporary scholarship on religion.
Requirements for the Religion Major
The major consists of a minimum of nine units, at least two of which must be at the 300 level, including a seminar in the area of concentration. No more than two 100-level courses may be included in the major. A maximum of three courses taken outside the department may be counted toward the major, no more than two of which may be taken at an institution other than Wellesley.
The major requires both a concentration in a specific field of study and adequate exposure to the diversity of the world’s religions and their cultures. To ensure depth, a major must present a concentration of at least four courses, including a seminar, in an area of study that the student has chosen in consultation with and approved by the departmental advisor. This concentration may be defined by, for example, a particular religion, cultural-geographical area, canon, period of time, or themes such as women, ethics and morality, or religious communities in contact and conflict. To promote breadth, a major must complete a minimum of two courses, also to be approved by the departmental advisor, devoted to religious cultures or traditions that are distinct both from each other and from the area of concentration that together provide a global perspective on the study of religion. All majors are urged to discuss their courses of study with their advisors before the end of the first semester of their junior year.
Honors in Religion
The only route to honors in the major is writing a thesis and passing an oral examination. To be admitted to the thesis program, a student must have a grade point average of at least 3.5 in all work in the major field above the 100 level; the department may petition on behalf of the student if the GPA in the major is between 3.0 and 3.5. See Academic Distinctions.
Courses for Credit Toward the Religion Major
Students wishing to take related courses for their major or minor outside the department must obtain approval of their advisor in advance. Majors and minors are encouraged to take courses in other departments and programs, including American Studies, East Asian Studies, Jewish Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and South Asia Studies.
Requirements for the Religion Minor
The minor consists of a minimum of five courses, including at least one seminar and no more than two 100-level courses. Three of the five courses, including a seminar, should be within an area of concentration chosen by the student in consultation with and approved by the departmental advisor.
For some students, studies in the original language of religious traditions will be especially valuable. Majors and minors interested in pursuing language study should consult their advisors to determine the appropriateness of such work for their programs.