School of Humanities and Sciences

Department of Philosophy and Religion

Bachelor of Arts

Frederik Kaufman, Professor and Chair

The Department of Philosophy and Religion offers courses that develop critical and creative skills, as well as broad-ranging knowledge of fundamental beliefs and ideas. Such skills and knowledge are brought about by (1) training students in the analysis and clarification of concepts involved in all forms of thinking, whether legal, medical, political, scientific, or metaphysical; (2) systematically analyzing and evaluating topics of perennial human interest, such as religion, art, and morality; and (3) challenging students to articulate and develop their own ideas in the context of argumentation.

• The Introduction to Philosophy courses (PHIL 10100 and PHIL 10200) are highly recommended as stepping stones to all other courses in philosophy.

• The Introduction to World Religions courses (RLST 10500 and RLST 10600) are highly recommended as stepping stones to all other courses in religious studies.

Requirements for Honors in Philosophy and Religion

Honors in the Department of Philosophy and Religion are offered for the purpose of encouraging, challenging, and recognizing majors and minors who undertake advanced academic work.

Majors and minors in the department may apply for honors by submitting an honors thesis. Written application to the honors program must be made to the department chair early in the student's senior year. A minimum 3.50 GPA in the major or minor is required.

An adviser and a second reader are appointed by the chair in consultation with the student and members of the faculty. The adviser supervises the writing of the thesis, which should be at most 30 pages long and must be completed by March 31. The departmental faculty decides whether the thesis has earned honors designation. Then, if the student wishes, the adviser arranges for an oral presentation of the accepted thesis to the departmental faculty, guests, and other philosophy and religion majors and minors.

Philosophy, B.A.
Philosophy-Religion, B.A.
Philosophy Minor
Religious Studies Minor


Philosophy is the most conceptually fundamental of the liberal arts. It is that academic discipline that is most concerned with ideas. The student majoring in philosophy is trained to understand abstract ideas and their relations to one another and the world, to learn what have been among the most influential ideas in human history from ancient Greece to the present, and to enter into the dialectical process of rational disputation concerning those ideas.

Requirements for the Major in Philosophy -- B.A.
36 credits in philosophy, including

PHIL 20300

Introduction to Logic or

PHIL 32100

Symbolic Logic

At least four courses taken at level 3 or 4


Because of the importance of logical analysis in philosophy, majors should try to complete the logic requirement by the end of the sophomore year.


Philosophy majors are urged, but not required, to double-major or minor in another field from which facts of philosophical interest can be learned and to which the concepts and skills of philosophy can be applied.


Total, B.A. in philosophy


Requirements for the Minor in Philosophy

The minor in philosophy offers students a way to concentrate their efforts in an area of study that is important to them but subordinate to their primary educational focus. Students who declare a minor in philosophy will be assigned an adviser from the department to help them select courses that meet their needs and interests.

Because of the importance of logical analysis in philosophy, minors should try to complete the logic requirement by the end of the sophomore year.

Philosophy distributed over a minimum of six courses, including

PHIL 20300

Introduction to Logic or

PHIL 32100

Symbolic Logic

At least two courses taken at level 3 or 4


Religious Studies

Studies in religion provide excellent training in understanding and appreciating others, and thereby oneself, through an examination and evaluation of the forms of expression that religious beliefs and values have taken in diverse societies and cultures. Attention is given to religious ideals, to how they work out in fact, and to the dynamic tensions that result. Study in this field also teaches interdisciplinary analysis, because religion is a sufficiently complex phenomenon that an adequate assessment of it must involve phenomenological, logical, empirical, and humanist methodologies.

In brief, the student of religion is trained to develop both appreciative and critical skills, in addition to a wide understanding of the way people are, in fact and in aspiration. Such skills and knowledge will be useful to those working in multicultural contexts, whether in business, government, or travel, or working in some related aspect of the social sciences or humanities, such as anthropology or literature.

Religious studies offers an appreciative, yet critical, analysis of major world religions. Each of the great religious traditions is a response to the spiritual issues that have inspired and challenged cultures worldwide -- the question of the source of existence, the ultimate purpose of life, the meaning of suffering, evil, death, and the nature and paths of spiritual experience. Exploring myths, symbols, historical events, communal rituals, personal experiences, and classic texts, world religions continually reinterpret and apply spiritual wisdom to new cultural problems. Religious studies develops the intellectual tools for recognizing and thinking critically about these themes, whether in a Native American, ancient Near Eastern, biblical, Hindu, Buddhist, or contemporary American context.

Areas of concentration can be in world religions and scriptures, comparing Eastern and Western traditions; religion and society, stressing religious issues and movements in the United States; religion and spirituality, looking at personal spiritual experiences, discipline, and growth; and religion and culture, examining religious expression in myth, ritual, and art.

Religious studies offers both an academic path for the spiritual seeker and an excellent basis for careers in the human service professions, such as counseling, social work, or teaching, and in business and professions involving work with people from diverse cultures.

Requirements for the Joint Major in Philosophy-Religion -- B.A.

The joint major in philosophy and religion gives students a special opportunity to explore in depth the philosophical aspects of religion and the religious aspects of philosophy. Students in this major acquire a grounding in philosophy that enables them to conduct philosophical analyses of religious claims, and a grounding in religious studies that makes them sensitive to the religious dimensions of philosophical systems and activities. This is an excellent major for students who have a strong personal interest in the preceding topics, or who would like to prepare themselves for graduate study or professional responsibility in the field of religion.

A total of 36 credits in philosophy and religion, including

  • at least 12 credits in philosophy (at least 6 credits of which must be at level 3 or 4), and
  • at least 12 credits in religion (at least 6 credits of which must be at level 3 or 4).

Specific courses that must be taken and are counted toward accumulation of the 36-credit requirement

PHIL 31100/RLST 31100

Philosophy of Religion

PHIL 15100

Reasoning or

PHIL 20300

Introduction to Logic



Total, B.A. in philosophy-religion


The following courses may be used to satisfy the course requirement in the philosophy-religion major for level-3 religion courses:

ENGL 32400

Literature of the Bible

HIST 30100

The Renaissance and Reformation

Minor in Religious Studies

Students who minor in religious studies will be assigned an adviser from the department to help them select courses that reflect their interests. A student can construct a minor that concentrates on a survey of world religions; a study of mysticism and religious consciousness; an empirical examination of religious beliefs, practices, and change; or a philosophical examination of religious beliefs and practices.

Requirements for the minor: At least 18 credits in religion distributed over a minimum of six courses (at least two taken at level 3 or 4)

Total required for minor