University of Pittsburgh
three small photographs depicting various religious icons

Department of Religious Studies



Religion is a powerful and creative expression of the human spirit. It has been and remains among the most potent forces shaping human history.

Moving the Torah to a new Ark

The Department of Religious Studies emphasizes the human search for meaning and value in history; the manner in which particular religious traditions, practices, thoughts, and orientations have evolved over time; and the degree to which religious views and behaviors have interacted and continue to interact creatively (and sometimes violently) with other systems of thought and other meaningful expressions of human activity.

The charge of the department is to produce students who are informed and compassionate world citizens by providing them with effective critical thinking, reading, writing, and communication skills and by instilling in them a sensitivity to and appreciation of others' points of view.

As an academic discipline, we adhere to the same philosophical and historical standards of investigation as our sister departments in the humanities and social sciences. Our faculty approaches the study of religion through history, philosophy, anthropology, literature, politics, ethnic, ritual and gender studies, and the arts, and shares common interests in cross-cultural and transnational dialogue. We teach about Buddhism, Christianity (including Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Protestantism), Judaism, Hinduism, and Islam and about religion in the Americas, East Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, the Near East, and South Asia.

Our program is designed to introduce our majors to several world religions and to a variety of approaches to the study of religion. At the same time, undergraduate majors have the opportunity to concentrate on a particular tradition, ideology, historical context, geographical area, or culture. We also offer a minor in religious studies.

The academic study of religion is both multidisciplinary and multicultural and attracts majors with diverse interests and from varied backgrounds. The department nurtures a strong sense of community and collegiality, an open and innovative environment in which to study, and a vigorous commitment to the careful mentoring of our students.

We invite you to explore with us the ways in which religion fashions human ideas and behaviors as well as historical and contemporary policies and events, and betters our understanding of the wider world in which we live.

Visit Undergraduate News, Field Trips, and Special Lectures for Students to learn more about the exciting opportunities for and accomplishments of our majors.

See what our former majors are saying about our program and what they have been doing with a degree in religious studies.

If you want to declare a major or minor in religious studies, go to the Student Records Office in 140 Thackerary...and welcome aboard!

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Revised 04/08/12 | Copyright 2007 | Site by UMC WebTeam