Online Courses in World Religion: Course Descriptions

Online World Religion Courses

Below are course overviews for commonly offered online world religion courses.

  • World Religions Course: Students consider the major teachings, beliefs and devotional practices of the world's religions, including views of the absolute, ceremonial rituals, sacred experiences and prevalent stories. These classes commonly include modules on Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Daoism, Confucianism, Islam, Hinduism and various indigenous traditions.
  • Historical Perspectives on World Religion Course: The roots and evolution of the world's religions, including less prominent religious movements, form the core of this class. Topics are usually segmented into two major historical periods: from 3000 Before Common Era (BCE) to 1400 Common Era (CE) and from 1500 CE to the present. Through an examination of religious history, the course also considers how religion impacts culture and politics today.
  • Sociology of Religion Course: Classes that present religion from a sociological perspective analyze religious organizations and movements in terms of social function. Students examine demographic religious patterns and trends, the impact religious groups have on social policies and the relationships between religious organizations and social institutions, such as family and education.
  • Hindu Traditions Course: Beginning with the Indus Valley civilization, this course offers a sweeping view of Hinduism in India, from its earliest period to the present. Course content includes introductory study of the Vedas, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, Hindu chanting, Bhakti devotion and current Hindu movements in India.
  • Religion in Modern Global Affairs Course: In this course students will study the influence and role of religion in a variety of contemporary world conflicts. Other course topics include the impact of religion on issues of public health, education and trade in different global regions.
  • New Religious Movements Course: This course will look at Soka Gakkai and Mormonism as new religious movements (NRMs). Other movements, from the 1600s onward, will be covered as well, and students will focus on how these movements related to current issues and societal themes.
  • Death, Dying and Beyond Course: In this course, students will focus on historical and religious traditions with regard to the concept of the afterlife. Emphasis will be placed on how a person dies, burials and common beliefs about death.

Program Information

Online world religion courses, which explore the viewpoints, rituals and practices of both major and indigenous religions, are offered as part of degree, certificate and continuing education programs. Certificate or degree programs can prepare students for further study, positions within religious organizations, or work in alternate fields, such as law, journalism, teaching or the helping professions. Most programs feature open enrollment for students who want to take a single course. Course timetables commonly follow university academic calendars and may require students to be online at prearranged times for live discussion sessions. Exams may be taken online or at approved sites under the supervision of a proctor. Online courses in world religion are also offered free of charge.

Online courses in world religion are available as part of certificate and degree programs, as well as individually through continuing education departments. Students will study themes like death, sociological aspects of religion and new religious movements.

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