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Undergraduate: Religious Studies

  • Program Overview

    Religious Studies (RLS)

    The Program in Religious Studies offers an interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of religion in its many forms and aspects. To the variety of religious traditions, both living and historical, the program brings the techniques and questions of philosophy, history, literature, and the human sciences. Designed for flexibility in meeting students' interests and needs, the Religious Studies program offers a major, a minor, an honors program, and a variety of electives useful for broadening one's knowledge of religious phenomena, for supplementing the major program in many related fields of humanities and social science, and for meeting general education requirements.

    The major in Religious Studies is an attractive option for students seeking a general liberal arts education with strength in humanities. It develops skills in reading texts with sophisticated critical awareness, and in expressing complex ideas orally and in writing. It affords insight into the fundamental traditions that shape historic cultures, East and West, and forms habits of tolerance and appreciation of unfamiliar ideas and values.

    Students also major in Religious Studies intending to go on to further professional training in this field or in closely related ones like law and diplomacy. Those who wish to pursue graduate studies are encouraged to study the languages needed for their areas of interest, and to supplement their major requirements with related work in history, philosophy, and the arts.

    More information and advising in regard to any of the program's services are avai­lable through the program director.

  • Degrees and Requirements

    Requirements for the Major and Minor in Religious Studies (RLS)

    Requirements for the Major in Religious Studies (RLS)

    Attentive and personal advising is a primary commitment of the Religious Studies faculty, and students who enter the program are assigned to an individual advisor who will help them find the courses best suited to their area of interest in the major and make productive use of their electives outside the major and the general education requirements of the University. Students commonly complete minors or even second majors in related fields. Final approval of courses selected for major requirements should be obtained prior to registration for the senior year. Requirements for the major may be satisfied with RLS courses and, with advisor's approval, with courses from other programs listed under "Related Courses in Other Programs". Students wishing to satisfy the requirements with yet other courses may do so with the approval of the major advisor.

    The major in Religious Studies leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree. All courses offered for the major must be passed with a letter grade of C or higher.

    Completion of the major requires 30 credits.

     A. Required Courses

    • RLS 301 Sources and Methods (ordinarily taken in the fall of the junior year; may be taken in the senior year by those who do not meet the prerequisites as juniors)
    • RLS 400 Religious Studies Seminar (ordinarily taken in the spring of the senior year)

    B. Depth Requirement
        Four courses at the 200, 300, and 400 levels in one of the following areas of emphasis:  

    1. Hinduism (SKT 111, 112 may also count as one course for this area)
    2. Buddhism 
    3. East Asian religions (Chinese, Japanese, and Korean religions) 
    4. Judaism (in coordination with Judaic studies; ordinarily all four courses in this area emphasis are JDS and JDH, but one may be replaced with a relevant RLS or other course with advisor's approval)
    5. Christianity (to include at least one Judaic studies course; JDH/RLS 230 or JDS/HIS 225, 226 recommended)
    6.  Islam (may include one course in Judaism or Christianity; ARB 111, 112 may also count as one course for this area) 
    7. Theology, philosophy, and method in religion
    8. Other areas, as available; these must be approved by the major advisor before the first semester of the senior year.

    C. Breadth requirement: Four RLS courses in areas outside the area emphasis.

    D. Upper-Division Writing Requirement

    Majors are required to demonstrate a capability for expressing themselves effectively in writing. They should meet this requirement by taking RLS 301 before the end of their junior year, co-registering in the 0-credit RLS 459, and achieving a special overall rating of "satisfactory" in RLS 459 based on the written work completed for RLS 301. An overall rating of "unsatisfactory" necessitates remedial action. More detailed information about this requirement is available from the program.

    Students should consult with the department advisor to ensure that their plan for completing the Upper Division Writing Requirement is consistent with university graduation requirements for General Education.  Students completing the Stony Brook Curriculum (SBC) must complete a course that satisfies the "Write Effectively within One's Discipline" (WRTD) learning objective to graduate.  The Upper Division Writing Requirement is consistent in most cases with the SBC learning outcomes for WRTD.

    The Honors Program in Religious Studies

    Religious Studies majors who have maintained a grade point average of 3.50 in the major and 3.00 overall through their junior year may be invited to attempt the degree in Religious Studies with honors.

    The honors major requires a total of 36 credits, consisting of the 30 credits required for the major and six additional credits in a special research project pursued through both semesters of the senior year under the supervision of a member of the faculty, with registration in RLS 495-496.

    When the supervising faculty member judges the student ready, an honors essay based on this special project is presented and defended at a meeting of the Religious Studies Seminar, which consists of the Religious Studies faculty and participating faculty from related disciplines. Thereafter, the Religious Studies faculty, together with at least one faculty member from another discipline who attended the seminar, meet to decide whether to recommend conferring the degree with honors. The decision is based on the student's overall record, the recommendation of the special project supervisor, the student's performance in presenting the honors essay, and the judgment of the faculty concerning its intrinsic worth.

    Students who wish to become candidates for honors should consult with the program coordinator during their junior year. Faculty supervision of the senior honors project must be agreed upon and arranged before the end of the junior year.

    Requirements for the Minor in Religious Studies (RLS)

    The minor in Religious Studies consists of six courses (18 credits), at least three of which (nine credits) must be at the upper-division level. At least 12 credits, including RLS 301, must be taken for a letter grade. In addition to these general requirements, the program is designed to ensure: 1) an encounter with the variety of world religions; 2) a grasp of problems of method and the critical use of sources in the study of religion; and 3) sufficient depth in a single area emphasis to read advanced work in the area with experience and judgment. Requirements to meet these goals are:  

        1. RLS 101 or AAS 102/RLS 102 or one 200 level RLS course
        2. One 200-level RLS course 
        3. RLS 301
        4. At least three courses in one of the area emphases listed for the major

    Students should consult the program director by the semester in which they register for RLS 301 for advice on coordinating the Religious Studies minor with the student's major program. Final approval of courses selected to meet the minor requirements should be obtained prior to registration for the senior year.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Sequence

    Sample Course Sequence for the Major in Religious Studies

    A course planning guide for this major may be found hereThe major course planning guides are not part of the official Undergraduate Bulletin, and are only updated periodically for use as an advising tool. The Undergraduate Bulletin supersedes any errors or omissions in the major course planning guides.  

    FRESHMAN

    FALL Credits
    First Year Seminar 101 1
    WRT 101 3
    RLS 101 or RLS 102  3
    SBC 3
    SBC 3
    Elective
     3
     Total 16
     
    SPRING Credits
    First Year Seminar 102 1
    WRT 102 3
    Selected Area Emphasis course #1 (200 level) 3
     SBC 3
     SBC 3
     SBC
     3
     Total 16
     
    SOPHOMORE

    FALL Credits
    Selected Area Emphasis course #2 (200 level or higher) 3
    RLS elective outside Area Emphasis 3
    SBC 3
    SBC 3
    SBC
     3
     Total 15
     
    SPRING Credits
    Selected Area Emphasis course#3 (300 level or higher) 3
    RLS elective outside Area Emphasis 3
    SBC 3
    Upper-division elective 3
    Elective
     3
     Total 15
     
    JUNIOR

    FALL Credits
    RLS 301 3
    Selected Area Emphasis course#4 (300 level or higher) 3
    RLS Upper-division elective outside Area Emphasis 3
    Upper-division elective  3
    SBC  3
     Total 15
     
    SPRING Credits
    RLS Upper-division elective outside Area Emphasis 3
    SBC 3
    SBC 3
    Upper-division elective 3
    Upper-division elective 3
     Total 15
     
    SENIOR

    FALL Credits
    Upper-division SBC  3
    Upper-division SBC  3
    SBC  3
    SBC  3
    SBC  3
     Total 15
     
    SPRING Credits
    RLS 400 3
    Upper-division elective 3
    Upper-division elective 3
    SBC 3
    SBC 3
     Total 15

     

     

     

  • Contact

    Religious Studies (RLS)

    Major and Minor in Religious Studies

    Department of Asian and Asian American Studies, College of Arts and Sciences

    Program Director: William Chittick

    E-mail: william.chittick@stonybrook.edu

    Office: 1046 Humanities

    Phone:  (631) 632-7690

    WEB ADDRESS: http://www.stonybrook.edu/asianandam

    Minors of particular interest to students majoring in Religious Studies: China Studies (CNS), Japanese Studies (JNS), Judaic Studies (JDS), Korean Studies (KOR), Philosophy (PHI), South Asian Studies (SOA)

     

     

     

  • Courses
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