Comparative Religion Courses: Information and Requirements

Comparative religion studies are available in both undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as in stand-alone classes for personal interest. Read on to learn more about some of the courses available.

Essential Information

Comparative religion studies provide learners with knowledge of the world's major religious faiths. As a major, comparative religion provides a framework for a liberal arts education, exploring subjects like science, psychology, literature and culture in relationship to various world religions. Students delve into specific religious faiths, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, including their history and development. Graduate studies probe more deeply into these subjects through research and writing and possibly a thesis or dissertation.

Topics you may explore when studying comparative religion:

  • East Asian Religions
  • Ethics and Global Issues
  • Medieval Literature
  • Mysticism
  • Religious Pluralism
  • Sacred Books

List of Courses

Introduction to Religious Studies Course

This course explores modern techniques used to define and interpret religion. Students survey the major religions of the world to find similarities and differences in belief systems, rituals and symbolism. Students will also analyze the role religion has played throughout human history and contemporary culture.

Buddhism Course

Students explore Buddhist doctrines, from their roots in Asian societies to their impact on Western cultures. Students review academic findings on Buddhist traditions and read translated versions of Buddhist texts. New schools of thought, popular devotional Buddhism, esoteric Buddhism and meditative practices are generally part of the coursework.

Islam Course

The emergence of Islam and central doctrinal topics are studied in this class. Students gain an in-depth understanding of related topics, such as the story of Muhammad, the Qur'an, major Islamic groups, political and religious authority, mystical experiences and modern expressions of the religion. Students may also examine current issues affecting specific Islamic groups.

Christianity Course

This course explores the major historical events and doctrines that have shaped Christianity. The social and cultural contexts of key sources are analyzed in regard to Christian traditions, rituals, practices and institutions. Students discuss primary themes in Christianity, including God and morality.

Judaism Course

Students are introduced to the foundations of this major world religion by studying its development in the Ancient Near East up until modern times. The customs, writings and institutions that have played a large role in Jewish history are studied in this class. Students normally look at specific historical markers of political, social and cultural change that have contributed to the problem of Jewish identity.

Hinduism Course

During this course, students explore the fundamental aspects of Hinduism, including songs, beliefs, philosophies and practices. Various Hindu texts, such as the Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads and Vedas, are generally part of the coursework. Students may also survey the political and social environments from which Hindu traditions were born.

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