Religious Studies, BA

Religion is a complex network of ideas and actions (ethical and ritual) that express a group's sense of ultimate meaning of life. The academic study of religion examines how the beliefs and values of contemporary and historical cultures shape and are shaped by societal factors, long-standing traditions, and distinctive forms of literary and artistic expression.

Because of the multi-faceted nature of the subject matter, the University of Pennsylvania's Religious Studies major program of study is open to students looking to tailor their educational experience to fit with their own personal and academic areas of interest. Each undergraduate who wishes to major in Religious Studies will meet with the Chair of the Department prior to claiming the major to discuss their desired coursework and create a individualized plan of execution.

As our core faculty shares research foci and skills in the study of material culture (art, manuscripts, archaeology, inscriptions, and other primary historical sources), we are well-suited to lead serious students in intensive research to better prepare them for graduate study which requires research and evaluation skills.

The minimum total course units for graduation in this major is 32. Double majors may entail more course units.

For information about the General Education requirements, please visit the College of Arts & Sciences Curriculum page.

College General Education Requirements and Free Electives
Foundational Approaches + Sectors1 + Free Electives20
Major Requirements
Select 3 course units in Beginner RELS 0001-19993
Select 3 course units in Intermediate RELS 2000-49993
*At least one intermediate course should be a Religious Studies seminar
Culminating Experience
Select 1 course unit in Independent Study/Culminating Experience1
5 Credits in RELS 0000-4999 (Or, course with Attribute = ARRS )
Total Course Units32

You may count no more than one course toward both a Major and a Sector requirement. For Exceptions, check the Policy Statement.


RELS 3999Directed Reading1
RELS 3099Honors Thesis Seminar1

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2023 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.