May 17, 2022  
Undergraduate Catalog 2012 - 2013 
Undergraduate Catalog 2012 - 2013 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Religious Studies. B.A.

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Minimum hours required for major: 40 (36 if a second major)

Minimum hours required for minor: 20

Advising: Students should contact Dr. Stephen Taysom, department Chair (216-687-2189) for an initial consultation as soon as the major or minor is declared.  At that time the student will be paired with a specific faculty advisor with whom (s)he must meet at least once every semester.

For Information:  Call Dr. Matt Jackson-McCabe, Department Chair, at 216-687-2171.


The Program

Virtually everywhere one finds evidence for human societies, both historically and geographically, one finds evidence of religion.  Religions identify and describe transcendent forces said to give shape to the world and thus to humanity’s experience within the world.  By explaining the past and imagining what is to come in the future, religions identify the meaning and purpose of present experience, and even of existence itself, for the groups and individuals who adhere to them.  Consequently, religions have been and remain fundamental to the way people construct cultures, organize societies, determine “truths”, define values, and imagine themselves in relation to others.  Perhaps most remarkably, different religious cultures do all this with an incredible and frequently conflicting variety of beliefs and practices.

The study of religion within the Humanities division of a public university is fundamentally different in both goals and method from the sort of instruction that one might receive within a given religious community.  Here the goal is not to make anyone any more (or any less) “religious.”  Nor is it even to determine whether one or more of the transcendent forces assumed in different religious cultures are actually real.  Instead, our goal is simply to come to a critical understanding of the ways that belief in such forces has shaped and continues to shape societies, cultures, and thus individual human experience.  By understanding religion as a form of human behavior alongside others like politics, art, economics, and literature, we come to a fuller understanding of humanity in all its historical and geographical diversity.

Such an understanding is acquired in precisely the same way that knowledge is generated elsewhere in the university: through rigorous, critical analysis of the available evidence - in this case, evidence for the rise and evolution of the discourses, practices, and institutions of various religious cultures over the course of human history.  This broad question of method lies at the heart of Religious Studies as an academic field, and is thus a major focal point of the program.

When approached in this way, Religious Studies is an important and illuminating complement to many fields, and many of our students are in fact double majors.  Whether on its own or in combination with some other study, the program can provide a springboard to a variety of careers ranging from law and politics, psychology, journalism, education, social work, to work in NGO’s or even international business.  It is also, of course, excellent preparation for graduate work in the academic study of religion itself.


Major Field Requirements

Credit Hours

Minimum of 40 (36 if a second major); at least 24 of which must be upper-level (300- or 400-level).  Students must receive a C or higher in a Religious Studies course in order for it to count toward the major.

Required Courses

Diversity Requirement

Students must take at least one course in each of the following areas: religions originating in Asia; religions originating in the Middle East; religion in the Americas.  For a list of allowed courses for each area, consult your departmental adviser.

Research Skills Requirement

Students must take at least one course that includes formal instruction in research and writing in Religious Studies.  Consult your departmental adviser for a list of courses that fulfill this requirement.

Capstone Requirement

All students are required to complete both

  and  .  Enrollment in   requires successful completion of the research skills requirement and permission of the instructor.  Enrollment in   requires successful completion of both   and  , as well as permission of the instructor.


Students will be encouraged to use a number of their discretionary courses to develop a concentration in one particular religious tradition, geographical region, or historical era.  The courses involved in such a concentration should be determined in consultation with your adviser.

Transfer Students

Transfer students must complete a minimum of 20 credit hours in the Department of Religious Studies at CSU for a mjor in Religious Studies.

Evening Students

A major in Religious Studies is not available to evening students.



A minimum total number of 128 credit hours are required for every student in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. All degree seeking, CLASS students must complete a specific number of General Education (GenEd) requirements which are comprised of University and College requirements.  This is in addition to the credits for their major field of study. Students are responsible for ensuring the appropriate selection of courses to satisfy GenEd requirements. Students are highly encouraged to consult with both their general education advisor and faculty advisor regarding the applicability of selected courses each semester. A comprehensive description of Cleveland State University’s General Education Requirements for undergraduate students is available online at

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