Overview

What kinds of careers do religious studies majors from The College of Wooster typically pursue after graduation?

With an academic environment that allows students to pursue a wide range of interests, religious studies students at The College of Wooster graduate with a diverse set of skills and pursue a wide range of careers. Our graduates have gone on to jobs in education and academia, politics, non-profit organizations, social work, and at libraries. A large percentage of students go on to graduate or professional schools, pursuing careers as counselors, administrators, clergy, physicians, nurses, or other public health professionals.

Religious Studies at The College of Wooster

Religious Studies at Wooster is interdisciplinary because we believe the academic study of religion is best done by integrating multiple disciplinary perspectives,such as history, anthropology, sociology, political science, theology, philosophy, art history, literature, and languages. This makes the Religious Studies major or minor an excellent choice for any Wooster student with a broad spectrum of diverse but interlocking academic interests.

Pre-Seminary Studies

Open to any student regardless of major. A four-course semester at Claremont School of Theology, Colgate, Rochester, Crozer Divinity School, Hebrew Union College, The Interdenominational Theological Center (consortium of historically Black seminaries), Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, or Rhodes University (South Africa). The program involves an internship or field placement, which may be counted in a variety of settings and may be elected for either one or two course credit(s). Two or three courses of the student’s choice will also be taken at the seminary. The semester is intended as a time for vocational and spiritual reflection and discernment. It is recommended that students ascertain the equivalent Wooster credit they will earn prior to registering for the program.

Five Things Worth Knowing About Being a Religious Studies Major at The College of Wooster

  1. We study religions…and many other things.  We study the many ways of being religious and the many ways that religions are present in our lives.  Our courses and IS projects address religions all over the world and throughout human history.  Students investigate religion in relation to science and environmental issues, national and global politics, peace and violence, gender and sexuality, the arts and popular culture.  Our double majors connect religion with Anthropology, Art History, Communication, English, Molecular Biology, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology.
  2. You can be religious and be in Religious Studies.  As you might expect, many Religious Studies majors are themselves part of religious communities, with an interest in understanding the nature of their own and other religious commitments more deeply.  Religious Studies provides ways for religious persons studying from an academic perspective to broaden and enrich “insider” perspectives.
  3. You don’t have to be religious to be in Religious Studies.  As you might not expect, many Religious Studies majors are not part of religious communities, but come to Religious Studies with an interest in understanding the ways that religions are part of history and culture.  Religious Studies provides ways for religious “outsiders” to understand the many forms of religious life to which people commit themselves.
  4. Religious Studies graduates pursue religious vocations—and many other things.  Religious Studies graduates are all over the world, employed or in graduate school, as teachers, lawyers, counselors or social workers, international aid and development specialists, in organic farming, human rights, or other politically engaged NGOs, business, and the medical fields.  And, of course, many are in seminary or are clergy.
  5. Studying religions can make you a more interesting person!  The study of religions requires engagement with aspects of life ranging from public and global concerns to the deepest, most private individual devotions.  It challenges you to understand both different persons and traditions and your place in the world.

Faculty

Joan Friedman

Joan Friedman

Professor of HIstory and Religious Studies; Department Chair of History

jfriedman@wooster.edu

Mark Graham

Mark Graham

Associate Professor of Religious Studies; Department Chair of Chinese Studies; South Asian Studies; East Asian Studies; Liaison to the Museum & Archival Studies Pathway

mgraham@wooster.edu

Bhakti Mamtora

Bhakti Mamtora

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies; South Asian Studies

bmamtora@wooster.edu

Sarah Mirza

Sarah Mirza

Associate Professor and Department Chair of Religious Studies; Middle Eastern and North African Studies; South Asian Studies; Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies

smirza@wooster.edu

Chan Park

Chan Sok Park

Associate Professor of Religious Studies; Classical Studies; Middle Eastern & North African Studies Program Chair

cpark@wooster.edu

Jeremy Rapport

Jeremy Rapport

Associate Professor of Religious Studies

jrapport@wooster.edu

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Santha Schuch

Administrative Coordinator - Africana Studies, Archaeology, East Asian Studies, Middle Eastern & North African Studies, Religious Studies, Sociology and Anthropology, South Asian Studies, Urban Studies, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

sschuch@wooster.edu


Latest News

Lauren Brown

Conversations on the Christian to Buddhist Conversion Experience

Name: Lauren Brown Major: Religious Studies Advisor: Dr. Chan Sok Park This I.S. uses personal accounts to discuss the experience of the conversion process […]

Paradoxical Descriptions of Divine Beings

Student Name: Tiago Garcia Ferrer Majors: English, Religious Studies Advisors: Bhakti Mamtora & Bryan Alkemeyer Most Joyful Award Within almost every mythology on earth […]

Kelsey Stone

Implications of Buddhist Monk’s and Olympic Pentathlete’s Diet on Performance in their Respective Fields

Name: Kelsey Stone Majors: Biology, Religious Studies Advisors: Dr. Nicholas Brandley, Dr. Mark Graham, Dr. Bhakti Mamtora, Dr. Rebecca Williams Olympic Pentathletes and Buddhist […]

Benjamin Hassan

Those Who Choose: A New Understanding of Heresy

Name: Benjamin Hassan Major: Religious Studies Minor: Environmental Studies Advisor: Dr. Sarah Mirza I propose that a conceptual framework for the analysis of religious […]

Major

The Religious Studies major consists of 10 courses (this includes three independent study credits). Courses in the department are divided into two areas. Area I focuses on the world’s religious traditions and histories. Area II deals with religion in cultural context, and with theories in the study of religions. Taking a minimum of three courses in each area helps students to accommodate the breadth and interdisciplinary nature of the field, and also to accommodate the students’ diverse interests and goals.  The flexibility of the major also helps students who are double majors (as are many Religious Studies majors) facilitate the successful completion of two majors.

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Minor

Religious Studies as a minor pairs well with any number of majors, as students can explore a variety of cultures and faiths to supplement their studies in languages, economics, history, political science and more.

Six courses in Religious Studies are required to complete a minor.

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Independent Study

Independent Study (I.S.) is an exciting and challenging prospect in Religious Studies.  We take your ideas and interests in the study of religions seriously, and work closely with you through Junior and Senior I.S. to develop, implement, and complete research projects appropriate to your interests and to the field of Religious Studies.

Junior I.S. (normally completed in the Spring Semester of the junior year) includes a combination of seminar course work with other Religious Studies juniors and individual work with a faculty member in the department.  Through these two approaches, you will develop an understanding of how to conduct research and writing in Religious Studies, and will complete a 20-25 page research paper of your own.  The Junior I.S. experience will provide the foundation and preparation for the more in-depth and individualized work of Senior I.S.

Senior year you will work for two semesters on a larger I.S. research project — either a continuation of I.S. work performed junior year, or an entirely new project culminating in a paper of about 60 pages.  This is the capstone experience for our majors.  Guided by your adviser, you will conduct in-depth research, analyze diverse data, and learn how to make an original contribution to knowledge about religion.

I.S. in Religious Studies sharpens your ability to think creatively, critically, and empathetically, and teaches you how to express those thoughts clearly, in the form that scholars and professionals in the field use.

 

Search the I.S. Database

Student Year I.S. Title Major 1 Major 2 Advisor
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Related Articles

Lauren Brown

Conversations on the Christian to Buddhist Conversion Experience

Name: Lauren Brown Major: Religious Studies Advisor: Dr. Chan Sok Park This I.S. uses personal accounts to discuss the experience of the conversion process […]

Paradoxical Descriptions of Divine Beings

Student Name: Tiago Garcia Ferrer Majors: English, Religious Studies Advisors: Bhakti Mamtora & Bryan Alkemeyer Most Joyful Award Within almost every mythology on earth […]

Kelsey Stone

Implications of Buddhist Monk’s and Olympic Pentathlete’s Diet on Performance in their Respective Fields

Name: Kelsey Stone Majors: Biology, Religious Studies Advisors: Dr. Nicholas Brandley, Dr. Mark Graham, Dr. Bhakti Mamtora, Dr. Rebecca Williams Olympic Pentathletes and Buddhist […]

Benjamin Hassan

Those Who Choose: A New Understanding of Heresy

Name: Benjamin Hassan Major: Religious Studies Minor: Environmental Studies Advisor: Dr. Sarah Mirza I propose that a conceptual framework for the analysis of religious […]

Alumni

The Religious Studies department generally has between 30-40 majors.  Each year we host a number of functions to bring faculty and students together for discussion, speakers, and research talks.  Our students know one another and the faculty members well.  Because Religious Studies majors are quite diverse in terms of their interests and backgrounds, after graduation they pursue a wide range of careers.  Many of our majors become teachers/professors, political staffers, librarians/archivists, social workers, lawyers, counselors, administrators, pastors/youth leaders, physicians, web page designers.


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Rob Johnson ’94

Major: Religious Studies Job Title: Teacher, The Breck School When Rob Johnson graduated from the Breck School in Minneapolis and headed off to college, […]

Prizes & Scholarships

The J. Arthur Baird Prize Fund

This prize honors the memory of J. Arthur Baird, Synod Professor of Religious Studies and a member of Wooster’s faculty from 1954 until his retirement in 1986. This prize is awarded annually to the student who, in the estimation of the Department of Religious Studies, has demonstrated the greatest aptitude in the area of New Testament studies.

The Paul DeWitt Twinem Bible Award

This award was established in 1925 by Mrs. Mary Fine Twinem in memory of her husband, Paul D. Twinem, of the class of 1915, and is given at graduation to the senior who, in the opinion of the staff of the Department of Religious Studies, has shown the highest degree of excellence in Biblical studies.

College-Wide Honors and Honor Societies

The Dean’s List includes students meeting the following criteria during a semester: enrollment for at least four full credits in letter-graded courses, semester grade point average of 3.650 or higher, no final grade of I (Incomplete) or NC (No Credit). Students who demonstrate satisfactory progress in 451 or completion of 452 are eligible for the Dean’s List with three courses which are letter-graded.

Departmental Honors are awarded at graduation to students who meet the following standards: (1) a grade of “H” on the Senior I.S. Thesis or unanimous vote of the department; (2) an average of 3.5 in all courses taken in the major department; (3) an overall average of 3.2 for four years at Wooster.

Latin Honors, first awarded in 1998, are awarded at graduation based on overall grade point average in Wooster-graded courses: summa cum laude for 3.900 to 4.000; magna cum laude for 3.750 to 3.899; and cum laude for 3.500 to 3.749. To graduate summa cum laude, a student must receive a grade of “H” on the Senior I.S. Thesis. Latin Honors are not a substitute for Departmental Honors.

Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest national society for the recognition of high scholarship, has a chapter, the Kappa of Ohio, at Wooster. The student membership is made up of those seniors who are first in academic rank, a few being elected at the beginning of the senior year on junior standing, and others at the end of the year.

Lectures

Academies of Religion

Established in 1966, by the late, Dr. Arthur Baird, the Academies of Religion brings a selection of both visiting and resident scholars for a lecture series each semester. Themes for the series address theological, textual, and societal issues through the lens of religion and faith. Many of these themes are addressed by scholars in the academic field of Religious Studies.

The mission of these lectures is to provide insights and resources to the community as we struggle together to become more richly and fully human. Supported by an endowed fund, the Department of Religious Studies, and Interfaith Campus Ministry, a free-will offering is requested to maintain the quality of the series.

The Academies of Religion are open to any persons, from the campus or community, regardless of creed or affiliation.

Faculty Emeriti

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Ishwar Harris

Professor Emeritus, Religious Studies

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Robert Houston Smith

Professor Emeritus, Religious Studies

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L. Gordon Tait

Professor Emeritus, Religious Studies