Undergraduate Program

Director of Undergraduate Studies:
Harry Stout
(203) 432-0831

Religious Studies at Yale offers a curriculum of challenging course work that approaches the history of human thought and practice while focusing on specific geographical, cultural, and philosophical areas of scholarly interest. Many disciplines suggest that they press students to think critically. The study of religion pursues critical thought in the context of social and intellectual formations that have consisted of revolutionary engagement, sectarian creativity, and significant acts of violence. It is impossible to study religion without a consciousness of this history: the history of dissent, rebellion, radicalism, and imperialism that inquiry into religion plumbs.

Our faculty encourage students to see when, how, and why communities forge systems of value. To do this, faculty guide students to examine institutions, practices, texts, and ideas simultaneously: to see how texts influence institutions, how institutions prescribe habits, and how human beings resist and reiterate the given institutions and practices of their specific geographic and historical contexts. The Department of Religious Studies at Yale is particularly known for its promotion of scholarly research by undergraduates. Undergraduate majors are expected to acquire the linguistic, philosophical, and historical acumen necessary for an in-depth research project during their senior year.

Religious Studies course offerings, other than freshman seminars, are arranged in four categories. Group A features general and comparative courses that engage more than one tradition, concept, or text. Group B includes survey courses that provide a broad introduction to a particular religious tradition or scripture in historical context. Group C includes courses on specialized topics in religious studies, both introductory and intermediate. Group D offers advanced courses on specialized topics. Normally, courses in Groups A to C have no prerequisites while courses in Group D often require the permission of the instructor.

All students who major in Religious Studies will be required to author a Senior Essay. Students can find this year’s Senior Essay Guide here.

Course Groupings

  • 001 - 099
    Freshman Seminars
  • 100 - 119
    Group A - General, Comparative, and Thematic Courses
  • 120 - 174
    Group B - Surveys of Religious Traditions
  • 175 - 399
    Group C - Topics in Religious Studies
  • 400 - 499
    Group D - Advanced Topics in Religious Studies