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 both world history and global politics.
Curriculum & Courses
Broadening your global perspective
"Going to public school my whole life, I never learned about nor was allowed to talk about religion in the classroom," said Bridget Gautieri '16. "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."
Discovering new paths for service
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.
Sacred centers & religious rituals in India
In a May Term travel course, students explored the relationship between sacred space, time and practices, delving into what it means to lead a meaningful life for individual practitioners of Indian religions.
Careers & Outcomes
At the leading edge: integrating science and ethics
Dr. James Peterson, Roanoke College's 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.
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.
In a special appearance at Roanoke College, which has a close partnership with Habitat, Jonathan Reckford shared what he’s learned during his years leading the global nonprofit.
Join us in a behind-the-scenes look at some of Roanoke College's in-depth May Term courses.
The three-person team is set to compete this weekend against other schools from across Virginia.
Religious studies explore the diversity of faith traditions by encountering each of their worldviews and practices within their cultural and historical contexts. Students discover how practitioners of different religious communities view themselves and their world by reading sacred texts, experiencing and analyzing rituals, studying literature and comprehending each religious system as a holistic way of life.
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.