Arizona State University

Department Name: 
Religious Studies
Approximate Enrollment (entire institution): 
Number of Full-Time Departmental Faculty: 
Public Institution?: 
Related to a religious denomination or body?: 
Which best describes the institution?: 
Grants bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees
Department offers undergraduate coursework in ministerial preparation (either a track, a minor, or a major)?: 
Department or institution offers masters programs in religious studies or theological studies?: 
Department or institution offers doctoral programs in religious studies or theological studies?: 
Description of Undergraduate Major: 

As part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, our mission is to pursue the investigation of religious ideas, values and practices from a core perspective in the Humanities that engages the social and behavioral sciences and other disciplines at Arizona State University. From this interdisciplinary approach we study religion through three distinct but interdependent frames: traditions, regional contexts and themes.

We offer over 90 classes per semester, and almost 20% of all ASU students enroll in at least one Religious Studies course during a typical academic year. The faculty consists of twenty full-time professors who oversee an undergraduate major program, an MA program with over 40 students, and a Ph.D. program that began in Fall 2004. Their teaching and research interests explore “religion” defined in the broadest of terms and expressed in texts and contexts from throughout history and across the globe.

Religious studies brings together perspectives and approaches from history, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and literature to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the individuals and traditions that constitute religions and cultures.

For a long while many westerners have tended to think that religions are either “dying out" or have been relegated to the private sphere where they have little public or political importance.  Recent events in the United States and around the world, however, have made it harder and harder to sustain this view. In our increasingly cosmopolitan world, the need to understand the root beliefs and values of diverse cultures has become a political and moral imperative.  The academic study of religion seeks to explore the deep intersections between religions and cultures which have shaped, and continue to shape, personal and collective identity.