University of North Carolina Charlotte

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: 

In spring 2012, the Department of Religious Studies launched a new set of requirements for its major.  Rather than organizing the degree around traditions and “theory,” the new major is organized around the modes of inquiry used by scholars of religion: Cultural Analysis, Historical Analysis and Textual Analysis.  This revision is intended to help students see commonalities across their coursework.  Despite significant differences in subject matter, in both a course on "the monstrous" in the Bible and a course on Jesus films, students are learning to read texts carefully.  Similarly, whether it is a course on Religious Art and Architecture in India or a course on Religion in America, students are learning to think carefully about historical and cultural context.  Although the Department’s faculty specializes in a wide range of disparate subject matter, we share a much narrower set of approaches for analyzing our respective areas of expertise.  By focusing the major on these commonalities, students and faculty will better be able to talk across our different interests.

The new major in religious studies requires thirty (30) hours of coursework as follows:


Two courses to orient the student to the academic study of religion:

RELS 2600 Orientation to the Study of Religion (3 hours). Students are encouraged to take this course as early as possible in their program.

RELS 4600 Senior Seminar (3 hours). Students typically take this course during their final year. 


Two courses designated as textual analysis** (as signaled in the department's semester course listings).  These courses focus on reading texts closely and carefully; examine methods and histories of textual interpretation; and consider how religious groups and cultures have composed, transmitted and been shaped by texts.


Two course designated as historical analysis** (as signaled in the department's semester course listings).  These courses focus on a particular historical period or figure; consider a movement, idea or instititution across several historical periods; and examine questions of historiography more generally.


Two course designated as cultural analysis** (as signaled in the department's semester course listings).  These courses focus on how religious discourses, practices and identities interact with, influence and are influenced by the larger culture of which they are a part. 

ELECTIVES (6 hours)

Students should choose two electives in consultation with their academic advisor. 

Please note that Liberal Studies courses do not count toward either a Religious Studies major or minor (including Liberal Studies courses taught by Religious Studies faculty).

*At least five (5) courses, including RELS 4600, must be at the 3000-level or above.

**Depending on how respective sections are taught, a course could fulfill the requirement for historical, textual, or cultural analysis.  Students must consult the course descriptions circulated each semester to determine which designations have been assigned to a particular course.