Courses and Requirements


The Department of Religion offers students a broad range of course options in recognition of the variety of academic approaches to the study of religion, including courses that engage the category of religion through textual analysis, sociology, historical studies, ethnography, material and popular culture studies, and philosophy, among others. In addition, department faculty participate in many of the college's multidisciplinary programs, including Africana Studies, American Studies, Asian Studies, Environmental Studies, Jewish Studies, and Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and students are encouraged to take advantage of the resources available in these and other programs.


The Religion Department’s goals for all students enrolled in religion courses include:

  • Developing tools for understanding and interpreting religions in varied historical, cultural, and social contexts and for identifying and interpreting patterns across religious histories and cultures.
  • Engaging critically the various ways in which scholars of religion have attempted to understand and evaluate the nature and functions of religion as a vital force in human society, behavior, and global politics, both in the past and present.

The department encourages all students to apply study abroad. Majors are expected to develop breadth and depth in their studies, both in terms of methodology and traditions.

What do students say about the department?

Study Abroad Options

The Religion Department encourages studying abroad. Students must start planning their year abroad in the first semester of sophomore year, but it is never too early to begin researching interesting programs. To help with your search for a program that suits your academic interests, below is a partial list of programs that our majors and correlates have gone on in recent years.

Students must apply to Vassar as well as to the specific abroad program to receive permission to take a semester or year of academic leave. This requires dealing with applications, transcript records, and recommendations, so best not to leave any of this until the last minute.