Students: Frequently Asked Questions

Why Major in Religious Studies?

Religious Studies is one of the oldest humanistic disciplines and teaches critical reading and thinking skills that are essential to a liberal arts education. Religious Studies is an excellent preparation for law, medicine, education, or the ministry -- as well as a foundation for graduate school in many disciplines… and for life!

What are the requirements of the Major in Religious Studies?

The major must complete 33 hours of coursework in Religious Studies, complying with the following requirements:

  1. 18 of these 33 hours must be at the upper division level.
  2. Required courses are 230 (Hebrew Scriptures) or 231 (Hebrew Prophets); 232 (Christian Scriptures); 263 (Eastern Religions); 264 (Western Religions); and 452 (Theories of Religion) the capstone course.
  3. In addition to the five required courses listed in #2, students must also take at least one course in each of the following distributional areas: Asian Religions, Western Religions, Sacred Texts, and Religion in America. Courses that meet the distribution requirements are listed in the table below.
  4. In order to provide flexibility, the Asian religions distributional requirements (263 and another Asian religions course) and the Western religions distributional requirements (264 and another Western religions course) may also be met by appropriate pairs of general courses that together cover Asian and Western religions respectively. Thus, for example, the Asian religions requirements may also be met by taking two courses, one in Hinduism and one in Buddhism, and the Western religions requirements may also be met by taking two courses that cover the major Western traditions (i.e. Judaism, Christianity, or Islam).

Distributional Area Courses:

  • Asian Religions: 107, 263, 331, 438, 439, 440, 442, 448, 449, 453, 457
  • Western Religions: 105, 264, 306, 323, 324, 326, 327, 350, 360, 361, 365, 404, 413, 426, 450, 452, 457, 465, 475, 481
  • Religion in America: 303, 308, 333, 387, 388, 389, 390, 392, 422, 430, 441, 482, 483, 490, 491
  • Sacred Texts: 103, 104, 106, 109, 230, 231, 232, 463, 407, 408, or 440

How do I become a Religious Studies major?

  1. Meet all requirements and be accepted in the College of Arts and Sciences.
  2. Declare the major. This involves meeting with the Religious Studies advisor and completing official paperwork declaring Religious Studies as your major. Paperwork is available at the College of Arts and Sciences advisement center. To schedule a meeting with the Religious Studies Undergraduate Advisor, Dr. Donna Ray, please email

Plan coursework

Many of these courses are offered on an infrequent or irregular basis, so you will need to plan ahead in order to be sure that you get a course in each area. One point you may not notice is that the requirement for a "447" (advanced seminar) course overlaps with the group requirements, since the 447 course you take will surely fit into one of the four "areas" or other.

Religious Studies Minor Requirements:

The minor must complete 18 hours in Religious Studies, of at least 9 must be in courses with a RELG prefix.

Dual Major:

Students may combine a major in Religious Studies with another major. For students with such dual majors, the total number of hours required for the Religious Studies major is reduced from 33 to 30, while the other requirements for the major remain the same. To graduate in Arts and Sciences one will need to declare a major and a minor or else two majors. Sometimes one starts out with a major and a minor and then thinks, "why not get two majors?" In Religious Studies it is a little easier to do this than in some other fields, because the "dual major" lets you add a Religious Studies major for just 12 more credits (a total of 30) more than you would need for a minor. Be sure if you are thinking of this possibility that you take the right required courses and group requirements along the way.

Arts and Sciences "Group Requirements"and "Core Curriculum Requirements":

Since Religious Studies is a major within the college of Arts and Sciences, in order to get a Religious Studies major you will need to satisfy the Arts and Sciences requirements and the University's core curriculum requirements. Check the UNM Bulletin or talk to your advisor to see what these are.

The "90 Hour Check":

About the middle of your junior year, when you have completed about 90 credits, you should receive a letter from Arts and Sciences asking you to complete a 90-hour check. At this point your major and minor advisors, and the Arts and Science advisors, will go over the courses you have taken and the courses you plan to take in order to make sure that you are following a course of study that will lead to graduation.

Honors in Religious Studies:

This honors program required students to sign up for two consecutive semesters of Religion 497, "Independent Studies", in which they prepare an Honors thesis under the direction of a committee. Check with the Religious Studies office to get a description of the requirements for entering the program.