Religion is an integral dimension of human existence. It touches some of people’s strongest emotions and appeals to people’s higher selves. Religion can bring communities together, and can lead to wars and oppression. Religion also is expressed in art, literature, music, thought, emotion, text, ritual, drama, and dance. Students enjoy learning about cultures and religions that are different from their own and understanding more about their own beliefs at the same time.
Most vocational opportunities in religion require graduate study, but the analytical thinking, writing, and verbal skills students develop in this area of study provide highly desired skills in most occupations. This area of study develops a familiarity with religious and cultural diversity, as well.
Many students in this major choose to major in a second area with more readily available jobs—such as education, social work, business, or nursing—knowing that religious studies will deepen the interpersonal skills needed in those jobs. For more career information, go to the American Academy of Religion website.
Why Study at Iowa?
Iowa’s major in religious studies introduces students to a variety of traditions both past and present, from East to West. It encourages comparative study and critical thought. It does not promote certain religious beliefs; instead, it helps students understand the ultimate values of people who differ from them.
The study of religion is a study of diversity of thought. Iowa students from numerous national origins and with varied religious and moral beliefs enroll in religious studies courses, leading to interesting discussions. Learning to understand diversity is vital in a global economy.
Thousands of Iowa students enroll in courses in the Department of Religious Studies. Courses such as Introduction to Islam; Religion and Society; Introduction to Buddhism; Quest for Human Destiny; and Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are popular every semester.
Some of the department’s courses fulfill General Education Program requirements in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Many students choose religious studies as their major after taking a course to fulfill a General Education requirement. Other students add religious studies as a second major or a minor.
Students majoring in religious studies earn a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. Course work includes:
- Five courses in foundation studies, including two in Western religious traditions, two in Asian religious traditions, and one in theoretical and comparative studies in religion;
- Four courses in one of these concentration areas: Western religious traditions; Asian religious traditions; or religion, culture, and society; and
- Senior Seminar.
Some of the languages taught at the university are particularly useful in religious studies: Greek, Latin, some modern European languages, Japanese, Chinese, Sanskrit, and Hindi.
See Religious Studies in the UI General Catalog to learn more about this major and graduating with honors.
Minor in Religious Studies
Students in this major need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Admission Requirements Tabs
Faculty, Facilities, and Resources
Religious studies faculty members represent a wide range of interests and teaching styles. Faculty members are dedicated teachers who continually update existing courses and develop new ones. In addition to introductory courses covering global religious culture, faculty also teach advanced courses in their particular interest areas, including Native American and African American religions, Judaism, religion and politics, religion and culture, and Asian religious thought and practice.
As vital partners in the department’s instructional work, graduate student teaching assistants lead discussion sections and occasionally teach their own courses based on research gathered for their graduate theses.
Iowa graduates have job placement rates ranging from 86-100 percent, depending on their area of study, and our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.
Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.