Major and Minor

The curriculum in religious studies offers a wide variety of courses that focus on the study of religion as an academic discipline. Most courses are open to any student with no prerequisites. RELS 200: Introduction to the Study of Religion, RELS 215: Judaism and Christianity in the Ancient World, and RELS 280: Asian Religious Traditions, are specially designed to be introductory courses.  Entering students may wish to take a Religious Studies course as their First-Year Seminar (178) course.

Required Courses

Because religion encompasses such a wide variety of phenomena that can be approached from so many methodological perspectives such as history, philosophy, literature, or the social sciences, there are only three required courses within the thirty-six hours of course work expected of majors.  All majors and minors should take RELS 200 as one of their first RELS courses. Majors are also required to take two capstone courses: RELS 398: Theory and Method in the Study of Religion, which fulfills the major and information literacy competencies and prepares them for RELS 492: Senior Seminar in Religious Studies. Students should complete RELS 492 during the fall semester prior to their anticipated graduation date. Both capstone courses are open to any students meeting the prerequsites and/or by permission of the instructor.

Distribution Requirements

Students majoring or minoring in Religious Studies may take a variety of departmental offerings or even take courses outside of the department designated as "approved electives" for Religious Studies credit. The only requirement is that three additional hours of course work must come from each of the three distribution areas: Religions and Western Culture, Religions of Asia and Africa, and Interdisciplinary Approaches to Religion. See the menu item below for more specific information, including a list of the departmental courses and approved electives that fulfill these distribution requirements.

Schools and universities must take religion seriously if students are to be liberally educated. If students are to think critically about the world and about the other subjects they study...they must study religions in some depth, [and] acquire an understanding of them from the inside...in critical and comparative perspective. -Warren A. Nord, Does God Make a Difference? Taking Religion Seriously in Our Schools and Universities

Declaration of Major or Minor in Religious Studies

Declaring a major or minor in religious studies requires the student to complete a Declaration of Major or Minor form that must be signed by the department chair. Before declaring a major, students must satisfy the LANG 120 requirement.

Major Course Requirements

Review UNC Asheville's course catalog for official major requirements and course descriptions.

Major in Religious Studies

I. Required courses in the major – 36 hours, including: RELS 200, 398, 492; 4 hours from courses listed under Religion and Western Culture; 4 hours from courses listed under Religions of Asia and Africa; 4 hours from courses listed under Interdisciplinary Approaches to Religion; and 12 hours of electives chosen from other RELS courses or approved courses outside of the department as indicated below. At least 20 of the required 36 hours must be at the 300-400 level. The department chair may approve additional courses when the subject matter is appropriate to Religious Studies.

II. Required courses outside the major – None.

III. Other departmental requirements – Completion of RELS 398 with a C or better demonstrates information literacy and major competencies.  Completion of RELS 492 with a C or better demonstrates written and oral competencies.  Students must also take at least 8 hours from the following courses designated by the department as “writing intensive”: RELS 312, 313, 330.  Writing intensive courses may be taken as electives or may be used to fulfill the area distribution requirements listed above.

Religion and Western Culture

  • CLAS 354  Greek and Roman Religion (3) same as RELS 354
  • CLAS  365  Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (4) same as LIT 365
  • HIST 388  Introduction to Islam (3) same as RELS 388
  • LIT  365  Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (4) same as CLAS 365
  • PHIL  255  Medieval Philosophy (4)
  • PHIL 315 Islamic Philosophy (4)
  • POLS  329  Religion and Politics in the United States (4)
  • RELS 215  Judaism and Christianity in the Ancient World (4)
  • RELS 312 Religion in America to 1865 (4)
  • RELS 387  Religion and Culture of Judaism (4)
  • RELS 389 Jewish Women and Religion (4)
  • RELS 388  Introduction to Islam (3) same as HIST 388

Religions of Asia and Africa

  • AFST 317 Africana Philosophy (4) same as PHIL 317
  • ASIA  313  Asian Philosophy (4) same as PHIL 313
  • PHIL  313  Asian Philosophy (4) same as ASIA 313
  • PHIL 317 Africana Philosophy (4) same as AFST 317
  • RELS 280 Asian Religious Traditions (4)
  • RELS 326 Religion and Dance in South Asia (4)
  • RELS 342 African Religions in the Americas and the Caribbean (4)
  • RELS 381  Religions of South Asia (4)
  • RELS 386  Buddhism (4)

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Religion

  • CLAS 250 Mythology (3)
  • PHIL 303  Philosophy of Religion (4) same as RELS 303
  • RELS 302  Sociology of Religion (4) same as SOC 302
  • RELS 303  Philosophy of Religion (4) same as PHIL 303
  • RELS 330 Religion and Gender (4)
  • SOC 302  Sociology of Religion (4) same as RELS 302
  • Approved electives
  • ASIA 100 Elementary Chinese I (4)
  • CLAS 101 Latin I (4)
  • CLAS 103 Greek I (4)
  • CLAS 105 Hebrew I (3)

Minor Course Requirements

Review UNC Asheville's course catalog for official minor requirements and course descriptions.

Minor in Religious Studies

At least 20 hours distributed as follows: RELS 200; at least one course from those listed under Religion and Western Culture; at least one course from those listed under Religions of Asia and Africa; at least one course from those listed under Interdisciplinary Approaches to Religion; and 4 hours chosen from among other RELS courses or approved elective courses.  No more than 8 hours of approved electives may come from a single department outside of Religious Studies, and at least 12 hours must be at the 300-400 level. The department chair may approve additional courses when the subject matter is appropriate to Religious Studies. Students must earn a minimum 2.00 grade-point-average on all minor courses taken at UNC Asheville. One-half of the hours required for a minor must be completed at UNC Asheville, to include at least 8 semester hours of 300-400 level courses.