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Religious Studies, B.A./B.S.

MTSU’s new Religious Studies major is the first for a public university in middle Tennessee. The academic study of religion contributes to the wider study of global cultures and international affairs, as well as personal and collective identities. Coursework in Religious Studies prepares students for occupations in a variety of fields, including education, research, religious ministry, counseling, human resources, and marketing. In addition to developing critical thinking skills, religious literacy helps prepare students to succeed in an increasingly diverse and multicultural society and workforce, from jobs as wide-ranging as international business leader to elementary school teacher. MTSU classes include such activities as experiential learning, fieldwork and ethnographic projects, scholarly research, production of short documentary films, independent foreign study, and language training.

What We're Doing

Lauren Morris

Spotlight on Alumni: Lauren Morris, Class of 2018

Lauren Morris is pursuing a graduate degree in Mental Health Counseling at Portland State University in Portland, OR. She will graduate in 2020.

Lauren graduated with a double major in Religious Studies and Psychology. While at MTSU, Lauren conducted fieldwork as a URECA scholar on “The Evolution of Public Perceptions of Serpent-Handling Churches.” She also completed an honors thesis project, entitled “Effects of Morality Salience on Religiosity and Transphobia.” When asked to reflect on her time as a Religious Studies major, Lauren stated: “Religious Studies not only gave me a tight knit community at MTSU, but also gave me a more complex understanding of both the world and my neighbors. Students thinking about choosing a Religious Studies major should know that RS challenges and develops your writing, research, and communication skills, which helped me succeed when applying for jobs and graduate school.”

Dr. Rohit Singh

Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies welcomes Dr. Rohit Singh

The Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies welcomes its newest faculty member, Dr. Rohit Singh. Dr. Singh routinely brings his research into the classroom, where he teaches courses in Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, race & religion, and supernatural encounters.

A Religious Studies major provides students with an invaluable foundation for a wide range of careers in which reading, writing, understanding, and analysis are essential. A bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies also prepares students exceptionally well for graduate programs, according to a 2015 report from the American Academy of Religion. Over 75% of Religious Studies graduates surveyed nationwide had pursued graduate work in fields such as religion and theology, psychology, law, history, philosophy, anthropology, and sociology. The survey also found majors were primarily employed in these areas:

  • Religious organizations (20.3%)
  • College faculty and administration (13.3%)
  • K–12 education (9.6%)
  • Nonprofit or community organizations (8.7%)
  • Business and finance (8.0%)
  • Law (5.9%)
  • Medicine and nursing (5.2%)
  • Counseling and mental health (4.4%)
  • Information systems and technology (4.4%)
  • Government and public administration (3.8%) 

Employers of MTSU alumni include

Because this degree program is new, employer information is still being compiled.

Students majoring in Religious Studies at MTSU have the option of pursuing the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree, which requires proficiency in a foreign language, or the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. 

As a descriptive, interpretive, comparative and historical field, Religious Studies coursework helps prepare students to become well-informed, independent, and creative thinkers equipped with the methods and theories necessary to study religious phenomena in a systematic way, to synthesize findings, and to analyze critically what one finds.

The Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies also offers a B.A. and B.S. in Philosophy, while minors are available in Philosophy and Religious Studies. Additionally, the department contributes to 17 academic minors.

For complete curriculum details, click on the REQUIREMENTS tab above.

B.A. in Religious Studies

B.S. in Religious Studies


RS 2030 - Religion and Society
3 credit hours

Introduces the academic study of world religions with an emphasis on the ways religion both influences and is influenced by society and human behavior.

RS 3010 - The Bible: Its Origin and Content
3 credit hours

Studies the historical development of biblical and extra-biblical texts with an emphasis on cultivating the skills of critical textual analysis, an understanding of reception history, and the emergence of diverse canons and interpretive approaches across different communities, both Jewish and Christian.

RS 3020 - Comparative Religion
3 credit hours

Employs central categories and concepts from the academic study of religion to analyze case studies from Western, Eastern, and Indigenous religions.

RS 3030 - Mapping Religious Diversity
3 credit hours

Explores religious diversity in North America with a focus on local case studies. Students will conduct original, ethnographic research examining religious sites in Murfreesboro.

RS 3040 - The History of Christianity
3 credit hours

A socio-historical survey of Christian thought and practice from the patristic period to the contemporary era. Discusses major events, texts, and figures in Christian history. Includes the study of theological concepts, interpretations of scripture, Christianity and politics, gender and sexuality, and disputes over orthodoxy.

RS 3050 - Rites of Passage
3 credit hours

The study of religious rituals and ceremonies that mark specific points in time, namely those in which individuals experience transition (births, weddings, funerals, and initiations). Explores how rites of passage and religious identities around the world are constructed and serve as sites of both conflict and resolution in a variety of religious traditions and cultural contexts.

RS 3060 - Pilgrimage and Sacred Journeys
3 credit hours

A cross-cultural and comparative examination of the dynamics of religious journeys with the goal of gaining a thorough understanding of the phenomenon of pilgrimage in all its complexity. Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Judaism, Muslim, and indigenous traditions regularly included.

RS 3070 - Supernatural Encounters
3 credit hours

Surveys discourses and rituals associated with the supernatural across world religions. Topics covered might include angelology and demonology, sorcery and witchcraft, hauntings and possessions, and magic and miracles.  

RS 3500 - Race and Religion
3 credit hours

Examines the intersections of race, religion, and nation in various historical and cultural contexts.

RS 3600 - Religion and Film
3 credit hours

Examines the cinematic expression of religious traditions and development of religious issues in cinema.

RS 4010 - Global Christianity
3 credit hours

Examines global Christianities focusing on how narratives of the global correspond to and feed into localized religious practices within Christianity in a variety of regional and specific contexts.

RS 4020 - Jesus of Nazareth
3 credit hours

Surveys the diverse portraits of Jesus reflected in the socio-culture interface of the first century CE, early Christian literature, the modern scholarly quest for the historical Jesus, and in light of recent discussions, movements, films, and books

RS 4030 - Contemporary Issues in Indigenous Religions
3 credit hours

Examines and analyzes contemporary issues in the religious lives of Native American, First Nations, Aboriginal, and other indigenous groups from a religious studies perspective.

RS 4040 - Hinduism, Buddhism, and Asian Religions
3 credit hours

Explores historical and socio-cultural developments within Hinduism, Buddhism, and Asian religions, their relation to other religions, and interactions with broader cultural forces.

RS 4050 - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
3 credit hours

Explores historical and socio-cultural developments within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; their relation to other religions of the world.

RS 4060 - Buddhism in Asian Cultures
3 credit hours

Presents a survey of historical and contemporary Buddhist traditions. Examines the rise and development of Buddhism throughout Asia in areas such as India, Southeast Asia, Tibet, and East Asia. Closely examines doctrines, rituals, ceremonies, and scriptures and compares key similarities and key differences among diverse Buddhist traditions such as Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana Buddhism.

RS 4080 - Islamic Traditions
3 credit hours

Survey of Islamic traditions in various historical and cultural contexts.

RS 4120 - Cults and New Religious Movements
3 credit hours

Investigates how new religious movements emerge, develop, and interact with American society and surveys "cult controversies" in the United States, asking why some new religious movements gain cultural legitimacy while others do not.

RS 4130 - Religion and Law
3 credit hours

Explores the complex and contested relationship between religion and the law by examining how debates over the proper relationship of religion and government as well as the limits of religious freedom have developed and changed over time.

RS 4140 - Religions of Tibet
3 credit hours

Examines magic, ritual, and religion in the context of Tibetan Societies. Religions covered will include Buddhism, Bön, Islam, and indigenous Himalayan tradition.

RS 4201 - Women and Religion
3 credit hours

(Same as WGST 4201.) Examines changing conceptions of women's roles in various religious traditions with particular attention to the ways religious beliefs and practices have influenced and are influenced by feminism and struggles for gender equality both within and outside religious institutions.

RS 4600 - Religion and Public Life Internship
3 credit hours

Practical experience in applying coursework in Religious Studies to actual situations and projects in organizations, both on and off campus, in a supervised internship program.

RS 4700 - Special Topics in Religious Studies
3 credit hours

An in-depth study of a specific topic in Religious Studies. Content will vary from semester to semester and will reflect the research interests and expertise of the instructor. May be taken more than once, as topics change for a maximum of 9 hours.

RS 4800 - Readings in Religious Studies
3 credit hours

Directed study concerning a particular problem or thinker within religious studies.

RS 4900 - Seminar in Religious Studies
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: At least 12 Religious Studies credit hours and junior or senior standing or permission of instructor. Capstone seminar for Religious Studies majors and minors. Students reflect on previous religious studies coursework in the context of their college education, analyze and critique substantial theoretical contributions to the discipline of religious studies, and complete a final product that "caps" their study of religion at MTSU.

Contact Information

Jenna Gray-Hildenbrand

Rebekka King

Who is My Advisor?

Nichole Poe (A-Z)
615-494-7652 | JH 159

Mailing Address

Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies
Middle Tennessee State University
1301 East Main Street
MTSU Box 73
Murfreesboro, TN 37132

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