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Religious Studies

The field of religious studies explores religious beliefs, behaviors and institutions across cultures. It is a journey through the liberal arts that combines the study of philosophy, literature, history, sociology and fine arts.

Why Choose Religious Studies?

Religion Matters

Religion is a vital force in the human experience. It is exciting and energetic, powerful and persistent. Through the scope of religion, we examine human beings in their most intimate and challenging moments.

At Manhattan College, religious studies is built into the core curriculum. Every student, regardless of school or major, takes three religious studies courses, starting with The Nature and Experience of Religion. Typically, in your second year, you take a course focused on Catholicism, and in your third or fourth year, a religious studies course that focuses on global studies or contemporary issues. 

The study of religion is crucial because it help us:

  • Ask big questions and develop a critical depth of understanding of the world, humanity and ourselves
  • Understand the past and the present for the sake of the future
  • Foster empathetic engagement with the religious diversity of our world
  • Become engaged and globally literate citizens

The Coursework

Religious studies is an expansive and varied field. It is ideal for students who want the greatest breadth and depth of intellectual pursuit. Our professors are scholars who offer a twofold approach to studying religion. The first is an examination of the world's great religious traditions, their scriptures, theologies and histories. The second involves studying religion as an element of the human experience in relationship to contemporary issues including:

  • death
  • marriage
  • sexuality
  • peace and social justice
  • science and society
  • urban problems  

As a religious studies student, you will have the opportunity to take courses on:

  • ancient religions including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism
  • Catholic intellectual tradition and Catholic social teaching
  • new religious movements, religion in pop culture and cutting-edge philosophy of religion
  • theories on the afterlife
  • mysticism and meditation

The Hands-on Experiences

Religious studies involves much more than just sitting in a classroom and studying from a textbook. At Manhattan College, religious studies majors:

  • Go on site visits to religious landmarks, cathedrals and temples around the city
  • Conduct one-on-one research projects with professors
  • Study abroad to learn about religious traditions and sacred sites around the world
  • Intern at nonprofits, government agencies, outreach programs, schools, media organizations and businesses in New York City
  • Eat, drink and celebrate to learn about religious holidays and cultural traditions
  • Attend on-campus lectures given by experts in the religious studies world

What Will You Learn?

As a religious studies major, you will learn to:

  • Understand and appreciate the world's diverse religious traditions
  • Read and interpret literature
  • Look at developments over time
  • Examine how religion functions in society and impacts social thought
  • Interpret the messages that human beings communicate to one another
  • Be a critical thinker
  • Communicate effectively with diverse groups of people
See the Degree Requirements

Religious studies is also offered as a minor.

Students who major or minor in religious studies may choose to concentrate on the Catholic tradition. This concentration focuses on:

  • Catholic beliefs, religious practices and moral teachings
  • Attitudes toward other religious traditions, both in a historical and contemporary context
  • The diversity and richness of the Catholic tradition 

The School of Liberal Arts also offers an interdisciplinary minor in Catholic studies.

What Will You Do?

Because religious studies combines many different fields of knowledge, career opportunities are vast. Research and surveys show that employers look for smart, conscientious, engaged graduates with the type of skills honed in religious studies.

Some people choose to work in nonprofits or social services, where they feel they have a chance to make a personal impact. Others work in media, business, law or in education, where there are opportunities to teach and share information.

Studying religion introduced me to the impact that religion, or the reaction to religion, has had on many societies. This was particularly useful as I traveled and worked throughout many different countries and cultures. My background in religious studies helped me gain jobs throughout Europe, the Middle East and America due to my ability to navigate through different cultural norms.

Kate Cross ’10, Pursuing a PhD in Francophone studies at the University of Connecticut