McMaster University

Department Name: 
Religious Studies
Approximate Enrollment (entire institution): 
Number of Religion Majors: 
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: 

All known civilizations, cultures and nations have been deeply affected by religion. Religions have created institutions such as temples and schools, produced great works of literature and art, and organized rituals to mark the continuities and changes in individual and communal lives. Religions have both legitimated political structures and inspired revolutions. Whether we are concerned with international affairs or our everyday experience in multicultural cities like Hamilton, religious diversity is a key element of social interaction. The study of religion is one of the most comprehensive ways of understanding humankind and human visions of reality.

Undergraduate Religious Studies at McMaster specializes in:

Asian Religions: some courses focus on particular religious traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism or Taoism; other courses deal with the religions and cultures of particular geographical areas such as India or Japan.

Biblical Studies: courses focus on the Judaeo-Christian scriptures and the history of early Judaism and early Christianity.

Western Religious Thought: courses cover Christian thought from all historical periods, Jewish history and philosophy, and Islam; the encounter between religious thought and modernity

Contemporary and Comparative Religions: courses are cross-cultural and thematic in focus, dealing with religious phenomena such as cults in North America, healing and religion, and comparative approaches to death and dying.

For inquiries:
Chair of Undergraduate Affairs
Dr. Celia Rothenberg


Undergraduate Administrative Assistant
Jennifer Nettleton



Completion of any Level I program with a Cumulative Average of at least 5.0 including an average of at least 5.0 in six units of Religious Studies courses, preferably including one Level I Religious Studies course. For continuation in the program, see the section on Minimum Requirements for Entering and Continuing in a Program Beyond Level I in the Faculty of Social Sciences Academic Regulations.




  1. All honours students are encouraged to consult a departmental undergraduate advisor in the selection of their Levels III and IV courses.
  2. Part-time students should note that RELIG ST 3F03 is regularly offered in the evening. Other courses required for completion of the degree are offered in the evening whenever possible. Students who anticipate difficulty in fulfilling program requirements should consult a departmental undergraduate advisor as early as possible in their program.
  3. With the written approval of a departmental undergraduate advisor, courses from other departments may be substituted for Religious Studies.
  4. Students who entered the program prior to September 2004 may use RELIG ST 2EA3, 2EB3, 2Q03 or 2V03 toward the Contemporary and Comparative Fields of Study.
  5. RELIG ST 4R06 is strongly recommended for students considering graduate work in Religious Studies.
  6. Since not all Level IV seminars are offered each year, students in the Honours program are encouraged to take one Level IV seminar during Level III.




120 units total (Levels I to IV), of which 48 units may be Level I


30 units from the Level I program completed prior to admission to the program. (See Admission above.)
6 units from Asian Religions
3 units from Biblical Studies
3 units from Western Religious Thought
3 units from Contemporary and Comparative Religions (See Note 4 above.)
3 units RELIG ST 3F03
24 units Levels II, III Religious Studies of which at least nine units must be from Level III. Level III courses which have been taken to satisfy the above fields of study requirements may be subtracted from these nine units of Level III. (See Notes 5 and 6 above.)
6 units Level IV Religious Studies (See Notes 5 and 6 above.)
3-6 units* from Linguistics, a language other than English or Statistics
36-39 units Electives. If not completed in Level I, a minimum of six units must be from the Faculty of Humanities.

*If requirement completed in Level I, these units will be taken as electives.