Religious Studies

Through religious studies, you'll delve into culture, ritual, history, literature and sacred texts -- allowing for multifaceted insights into our human urge toward spirituality.

By making connections among various religions, you'll gain a deeper understanding of world history and global politics.

Because religious studies demand critical thinking and communication skills, you'll be well-prepared for both graduate studies and a variety of careers. Religion students often go into education, medicine, law, journalism, international business, diplomacy and, of course, religion. We offer both a major and a minor in religious studies.

Photo of Bridget Gauteri

"Going to public school my whole life, I never learned about nor was allowed to talk about religion in the classroom. I started doing my own research on different religions out of curiosity and discovered a whole new world! It was like a secret that had been hidden from me my whole life, and it was, and still is, completely fascinating. Studying religion at Roanoke College has broadened my global perspective. Religion affects how people live, talk, act, work, eat, and dress, etc. Understanding different religions helps one understand the world and everyone in it. Therefore, it also applies to any other field/study offered on this campus!"  Bridget Gautieri '16

As a religious studies major, you'll have the opportunity to work with Roanoke's outstanding religion faculty, many of whom are leading scholars in their fields.              

Sample Course Offerings:

  • RELG 207: Native American ReligionsStudents meeting with a professor
  • RELG 245: Japanese Religions
  • RELG 246: The Holocaust
    View all courses 
Dr. Peterson giving a presentation

At the leading edge: integrating science and ethics

Dr. James Peterson, Schumann Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Religion and Society, was invited to the International Summit on Human Gene Editing at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D. C., where experts from around the world convened to discuss the ethics surrounding gene-editing research.

Peterson has published two books on human genetic intervention, Genetic Turning Points and Changing Human Nature. The International Society for Science and Religion named him a Fellow as one of the most influential scholars in the world in the fields of science and medicine.

Sacred centers & religious rituals in India

In this May Term travel course, students explore the relationship between sacred space, time and practices and what it means to lead a meaningful life for individual practitioners of Indian religions.

Haley Toresdahl in front of a building in Washington, D.C.

Haley Toresdahl 14, a political science major with a minor in religious studies and a concentration in legal studies, interned at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's faith-based and neighborhood partnerships office during the fall of 2013. Her work on USDA initiatives overlapped with the work of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and she often found herself interacting with White House staffers. 

She wants to build a career focused on hunger issues, and her experience in Washington solidified her future plans. "This has definitely opened up my eyes to all the different options for public service," she said.