Religious Studies


Religious Studies explores religious thought and practice in various historical, political, cultural, and social contexts in order to understand and interpret societies and cultures throughout the world. It fosters scholarly skills such as close reading (of texts, images, artifacts, and other social data), excellence in writing and verbal expression, interpretation of the past and present from multiple forms of evidence, and assessment of contemporary social issues. By exploring the public and private concerns that the study of religion highlights -- for example, the creation of community, the nature of the individual, suffering and death, notions of good and evil -- students discover new ways of engaging the complex world in which they live. As students examine religious activity in the Americas, South and East Asia, the Middle East and West Asia, Africa, and Europe, they not only learn about the formation and transmission of beliefs, behaviors, values, rituals, and identities but also come to understand how diverse peoples have expressed religious understandings of themselves and others through politics, institutions, conflicts, and spaces commonly recognized as secular.

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Student Goals

Students in this concentration will:

  • Acquire foundational knowledge of several of the world’s religious traditions
  • Develop critical abilities in textual exegesis and close reading
  • Understand the intellectual, social-theoretical, and ethical issues relating to religious discourse
  • Design a course of study in consultation with a faculty member
  • Pursue original research


Click here for a list of requirements.

Honors and Capstones

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By the end of spring registration in the junior year, concentrators choose whether they wish to complete a capstone course or write an Honors thesis. In the capstone course, which is chosen in consultation with concentration advisor and other faculty, the concentrator addresses the theoretical and interpretive issues of his or her particular focus in the Religious Studies concentration. A Religious Studies concentration with Honors requires, in addition to RELS 1000 and eight other courses, an Honors thesis (RELS 1999, during both semesters of the senior year). To receive Honors, a student must have at least a high B in the concentration and an A on the thesis. Please visit the Religious Studies website for complete information on the eligibility requirements for Honors.

Liberal Learning

This concentration allows you to address the following Liberal Learning goals:

  • Enhance your aesthetic sensibility
  • Expand your reading skills
  • Collaborate fully
  • Understand differences among cultures
  • Embrace diversity
  • Engage with your community
  • Develop a facility with symbolic languages
  • Learn what it means to study the past
  • Evaluate human behavior
  • Work on your speaking and writing

Download the full statement on Liberal Learning at Brown

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Affiliated Departments


Director of Undergraduate Studies

Graduating Class

Year Total Capstone Honors
201313 13 
201414 12 
201511 11 

Alumni Pathways

Alumni have pursued a range of careers, including in management consulting, law, communications and journalism, instructional design, education, social work, and on university faculties.

See more details on the CareerLAB website.

Dept. Undergraduate Group

Student Leaders:

  • Noah Fitzgerel
  • Melodi Dincer

If you are an advisor and would like to make changes to the information on this page, contact, or email Dean Besenia Rodriguez.