BA in Religion

A student in profile sitting at a desk and typing at a computer in class

The Religion Department at GW is highly regarded for our excellence in teaching. Students benefit from individualized attention and build relationships with faculty. This is a department where all of our majors work closely with professors and benefit from small class sizes. Religion majors regularly publish their theses in peer-reviewed journals and are accepted into top graduate programs in law, medicine, and religious studies. 

Many students choose to double major or minor in Religion alongside their major in subjects such as History, International Affairs, Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology/Anthropology. Our students successfully combine pre-med requirements with our flexible major and minor requirements.

The BA in Religion curriculum begins with an survey course about the world's major religions and ends with the senior capstone. Along the way, students take a required course about theories and methods in religious studies, in addition to six electives chosen from across Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic religions. Our diverse and exciting course offerings cover topics such as: 

  • Buddhist meditation
  • Chinese religions
  • Confucian literature
  • Daoism
  • Christianity
  • Ethics
  • Hinduism
  • Islam and politics
  • Judaism
  • Violence and peace
  • Women and gender


Anyu Silverman

"Every major should take at least a few religious studies courses throughout college. The Religion Department gives students the ability to think insightfully about what is going on in the world and how religion influences political and social movements across time. This is a skill that has served me well across disciplines, internships, extracurriculars and jobs."

Anyu Silverman
BA '19



A student in class writing on a laptop and taking notes on paper

All religion majors must complete REL 4101W: Senior Capstone Seminar in the Fall semester of their final year. During the course, students refine and consolidate what they have learned throughout their studies.

As the capstone is also a Writing in the Disciplines (WID) course, material includes significant engagement in writing as a form of critical inquiry and scholarly expression.


Departmental Honors

Students interested in earning special honors in religion to be noted on their transcript must:

  • Meet Columbian College requirements for Special Honors
  • Be declared religion majors and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5 in courses in the major
  • Meet specific requirements for their major
  • Receive a minimum grade of A- in REL 4101W: Senior Capstone Seminar


Course Requirements

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Undergraduate Programs.

Program-specific curriculum:

REL 1003Introduction to World Religions
REL 3901Thinking About Religion: Classic and Contemporary Approaches
REL 4101WSenior Capstone Seminar
Nine Religion (REL) courses (27 credits). At least two of these courses must be taken at the 2000-level or above. At least two courses must focus on Abrahamic religions and at least two on non-Abrahamic religions, selected from the following:
Abrahamic religions
REL 1009The Hebrew Scriptures
REL 1010The New Testament
or REL 1010W The New Testament
REL 2165The Gospels
REL 2169Lost Gospels
REL 2201Judaism
REL 2211Rabbinic Thought and Literature
REL 2301Christianity
REL 2401Islam
REL 2981Women in Western Religion
REL 3141Second Temple/Hellenistic Judaism
REL 3151The Historical Jesus
or REL 3151W The Historical Jesus
REL 3221Issues in Jewish Ethics
REL 3291Modern Jewish Thought
REL 3310Apocalypse and Social Change
REL 3321Christian Ethics and Modern Society
REL 3342Medieval Faith and Symbolism
REL 3343Religion in the Renaissance and Reformation
REL 3405Shi'ite Islam
REL 3414Islamic Philosophy and Theology
REL 3419Islamic Civilization and the West
REL 3425Islamic Political Thought
REL 3431Sufism/Islamic Mysticism
REL 3432Persian Sufi Literature East and West
REL 3475Islamic Religion and Art
REL 3481Women in Islam
REL 3482Gender and Piety in Islam
REL 3666The Book of Revelation and Other Apocalypses
REL 3701Religion in the United States
REL 3711Religion in Contemporary America
or REL 3711W Religion in Contemporary America
REL 3915Islam and Hinduism in South Asia
REL 3923Violence and Peace in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Non-Abrahamic religions
REL 2501Hinduism
REL 2562Mythologies of India
REL 2601Buddhism
REL 2802Introduction to Chinese Religions
REL 2811Confucian Literature in East Asia
REL 2814Religion and Philosophy in East Asia
REL 2831Introduction to Daoism
REL 3566Dharma in Hinduism and Buddhism
REL 3614Buddhist Philosophy
REL 3814WReligion and Philosophy in East Asia
REL 3831WDaoism in East Asia
REL 3832Myth, Ritual, and Popular Religion in China
REL 3841Religion and Politics in China
REL 3881Women, Gender, and Religion in China
REL 3915Islam and Hinduism in South Asia
REL 3989The Goddess in India and Beyond

Required Courses Schedule Notes

Students planning their schedules around the degree requirements for both the Religion Major and Minor should note that REL 3901 Thinking About Religion will only be scheduled during Spring semesters and REL 4101W Senior Capstone Seminar will only be scheduled during Fall semesters.