Religious Studies


The primary mission of the religious studies program is to provide an objective, nonsectarian program of study. The program is intended (1) to enable students to become acquainted with current scholarship in the study of religion, (2) to increase student understanding of the role religion plays in the lives of individuals, societies and diverse cultures, and (3) to help students improve their skills in writing and critical thinking, particularly with reference to religion. The academic study of religion is part of the liberal arts tradition, which seeks to make students more informed, more thoughtful and more tolerant citizens.


Are you someone who…

  • is intrigued by different cultures and diverse beliefs?
  • wonders how religion can lead to both conflict and peace, hatred and love, bigotry and tolerance, venerable institutions and extraordinary individuals?
  • believes that religion at its highest can inspire the creative spirit, motivate just and ethical behavior, and transform the world?
  • wonders how there can be so many religions that all claim to be true?
  • is curious about why we are here, what happens after death, and how you should live?

In religious studies, we focus on the manifold ways religion has shaped and continues to shape our world. The influence of religion can be seen in law and government, family and parenting practices, the arts and human creativity, economics and social structures. It pervades the way we think about life, death, morality, justice, truth, and love. In the academic study of religion, we examine religion from outside the framework of any particular belief system. The approach is cross-cultural in content and multi-disciplinary in approach. As a result, we explore a wide variety of religious traditions and bring a broad palette of interpretive tools to better understand them. We present religion as a lived experience, one that can illuminate the causes, meanings, and implications of current events. At CSUB, the surrounding religious environment provides a fertile and important arena to witness the living out of diverse religious traditions. Whether the subject is local or far-off, contemporary or ancient, the field of religious studies seeks to understand religion in its many different manifestations.

As majors in religious studies, you will explore some of the most important and intriguing forms religion takes across the planet. At the end of your studies, you will be able to…

  • describe, interpret, and compare the important beliefs and practices of the major religious traditions of the world, using appropriate academic methods.
  • identify and explain various approaches to the study of religion that have informed the academic discipline of religion throughout its history.
  • discuss intelligently the role of religion in our contemporary world.
  • think critically, develop arguments, and communicate them clearly in written and spoken form.

Throughout your courses, you will acquire a deep knowledge base for better understanding and talking about the study of religion, but you will also have multiple forums in which to reflect upon the larger questions of life in our contemporary world. Our goal is that through a major in Religious Studies, you will have a richer appreciation for our world, our country, our region, and yourself.

Religious Studies majors have gone into careers in a variety of fields that require creative thinking, subtle analysis, and strong written and oral communication skills. Graduates from CSUB have obtained positions in journalism, publishing, international business, teaching, social work, marketing, ministry, and human relations. Medical and law schools have historically looked favorably on students who double major in Religious Studies. Finally, some Religious Studies students have furthered their study of religion at graduate school and made a career within our academic field.