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?

Majors complete 33 hours of coursework in Religious Studies, and comply with the following requirements:

1. 18 of these 33 hours must be at the upper division level.

2. All students must take one of the following introductory courses: RELG 1110 (Introduction to World Religions), RELG 1120 (Introduction to the Bible), or RELG 1550 (Religion, Health and Medicine).

3. Additional required courses are RELG 2110 (Eastern Religions); Religion 2120 (Western Religions); and RELG 452 (Theories of Religion), the capstone course.

4. In addition to the introductory course listed in #2, and the three required courses listed in #3, students must also take at least one course in each of the following areas: Asian Religions; Abrahamic Religions; Religion, Life, and Culture; and Religion in the Americas. Courses that meet these distributional requirements are included below. Relevant topics courses (RELG 347, RELG 447, RELG463) may also fill distribution requirements with approval of undergraduate director or program director.

5. In order to provide flexibility, the Asian Religions requirements (RELG 2110 and another Asian Religions course) and the Western / Abrahamic Religions requirements (RELG 2120 and an Abrahamic Religions course) may also be met by appropriate pairs of courses that cover Asian and Abrahamic Religions respectively. For example, the Asian Religions requirement may also be met by taking two courses, one in Hinduism and one in Buddhism, and the Abrahamic Religions requirement may be met by taking two courses that cover the Abrahamic traditions (i.e. Judaism, Christianity, or Islam).

6. Students are encouraged but not required to develop an informal concentration within the program, by taking at least three courses from one distributional area of their choosing.

Distributional Area Courses:

- Asian Religions: 2110, 332, 335, 337, 347 (relevant topics courses), 447 (relevant topics seminars).

- Abrahamic Religions: 1123, 1126, 2120, 312, 314, 322, 326, 327, 347 (relevant topics courses), 447 (relevant topics seminars), 463 (relevant biblical studies topics seminars).

- Religion, Life, and Culture: 303, 319, 320, 321, 347 (relevant topics courses), 447 (relevant topics seminars).

- Religion in the Americas: 343, 346, 351, 347 (relevant topics courses), 447 (relevant topics seminars).

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. Michael Candelaria, 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.

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.