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 & Staff

Joan Friedman

Joan Friedman

Lincoln Professor of Religion and Professor of History; Department Chair of History


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


Bhakti Mamtora

Bhakti Mamtora

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies; South Asian Studies


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


Chan Park

Chan Sok Park

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


Jeremy Rapport

Jeremy Rapport

Associate Professor of Religious Studies


gray silhouette outline of a person

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


Latest Religious Studies News

graphic featuring students headshots from The College of Wooster

AMRE | Fututorwo

Vera Bordah ’22 | Mechanical Engineering Henry Pellegrin ’23 | Global & International Studies and Religious Studies Mekdes Shiferaw ’23 | Global & International […]

Kelli Baxstrom ’16

Geology alumna researches landslides after natural disasters

As a geologist for the United States Geological Survey, Kelli Baxstrom ’16 put much of the expertise learned from her time at The College […]

Christina Bowerman ’13

Service year adviser for City Year connects with Wooster students

Christina Bowerman ’13 supports future City Year members including Keira Wright ’21

Camille Carr ’22

Religious studies major writes children’s book about sibling with a life-limiting illness

Camille Carr ’22 draws from personal experience in ‘Bev and Lil’

More Religious Studies Articles


A Religious Studies major consists of 10.25 courses:

  1. One introductory (100 level) course in the study of religion.
  2. One .25 credit course, Sophomore Workshop “Experience in the Discipline,” normally taken in the second half of the student’s sophomore spring semester. In this class, new Religious Studies majors will work with a department faculty member to explore how the academic study of religion can help to facilitate their personal, academic, and professional interests and to develop a plan for their future Religious Studies work that will help them to develop Wooster’s graduate qualities and their post College plans. While this class is not required for Religious Studies minors, minors are strongly encouraged to take it.
  3. Any two 200-level Area I courses (religious traditions and histories)
  4. Any two 200-level Area II courses (topics, religious traditions in cultural contexts)
  5. RELS 20100, “Approaches to the Study of Religion,” a seminar class about the major theories and methods that inform the discipline of Religious Studies, normally taken fall semester of the junior year. See appendix for the course proposal
  6. One Religious Studies elective (any course the department offers)
  7. RELS 401, Junior IS, normally taken spring semester of the junior year
  8. RELS 451, Senior IS
  9. RELS 452, Senior IS

Other Major Recommendations

In addition, each Religious Studies major is encouraged to consider adding one of the following to their academic program: (a) a minor in a field appropriate to their professional and personal interests, or (b) an approved experiential learning opportunity appropriate to their professional and personal interests, or (c) a Pathway program appropriate to their professional and personal interests.

Special Notes

  • No more than two 100-level courses may count toward the major or minor.
  • Only grades of C-or better are accepted for the major or minor.

View Courses


A Religious Studies minor consists of six courses:

  • Two courses in Area I
  • Two courses in Area II
  • Two elective Religious Studies courses

Special Notes

  • No more than two 100-level courses may count toward the major or minor.
  • Only grades of C-or better are accepted for the major or minor.
  • Sophomore Workshop “Experience in the Discipline” seminar is recommended
  • View Courses

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
Please search to view results

Related Articles

Head shot of Jenna Smith

“No Matter Where You’re From, We’re Glad You’re Our Neighbor:” Enacting Justice Initiatives and Community Formation in Faith-Based Organizations

Name: Jenna Smith Major: Sociology Minor: Religious Studies Advisors: Dr. Heather Fitz Gibbon, Dr. Seiko Matsuzawa (Second Reader) Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) in the United […]


On the Basis of Biological Sex

Name: Camille Carr Majors: Sociology, Religious Studies Advisors: Dr. Heather Fitz Gibbon, Dr. Mark Graham As of February 2022, ten states have enacted legislation […]

Head shot for Alicia McElwee

Following the Lead: Impact of Soil Amendments on Lead Toxicity to Tomato Plants

Name: Alicia McElwee Majors: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Religious Studies Advisors: Dr. Paul Edmiston, Dr. Mark Snider (second reader) Heavy metal contamination in the […]

Kelsey Stone

Intersecting interests in biology and religious studies inspire examination of how consumption affects success

Combining biology and religious studies, two fields that would seem to be at odds with each other, into one Independent Study project as a […]


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.

Related Articles

Kelli Baxstrom ’16

Geology alumna researches landslides after natural disasters

As a geologist for the United States Geological Survey, Kelli Baxstrom ’16 put much of the expertise learned from her time at The College […]

Christina Bowerman ’13

Service year adviser for City Year connects with Wooster students

Christina Bowerman ’13 supports future City Year members including Keira Wright ’21

Rob Johnson

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.


Academy of Religion Lecture Series

The Religious Studies Department, along with RSL, invites the campus community to attend the 52nd Annual Fall Academy of Religion Lecture series. This year’s theme is “What is Scripture?” which takes a cross-cultural examination of different religious texts and traditions. We’re excited to support members of the RELS faculty as they present on each week in the lecture series:

  • September 22th:  Jeremy Rapport, “America’s Alternative Bibles”
  • September 29th:  Bhakti Mamtora, “Hindu Scriptures in Practice”
  • October 6th:  Chan Sok Park, “Early Christian Apocrypha”
  • October 13th:  Mark Graham, “Scriptures and Authoritative Texts in Buddhist Traditions”
  • October 20th:  Joan Friedman, “Why Jews Cannot Be Biblical Literalists”All lectures will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Bruch Hall at First Presbyterian Church (621 College Ave.), directly down Beall Ave. and across from Drug Mart. All attendees are asked to wear masks and adhere to social distancing. We look forward to seeing you there!

Faculty Emeriti

gray silhouette outline of a person

Ishwar Harris

Professor Emeritus, Religious Studies

gray silhouette outline of a person

Robert Houston Smith

Professor Emeritus, Religious Studies

Charles Kammer

Charles L. Kammer III

Professor Emeritus, Religious Studies

gray silhouette outline of a person

L. Gordon Tait

Professor Emeritus, Religious Studies