About the Department

An exterior shot of Clough Hall in autumn

The Department of Religious Studies has as its primary objective the academic study of religion. The courses offered explore living religious traditions, especially the Judeo-Christian faith and its relevance for contemporary life.

Students take courses in religious studies in order to investigate areas of personal interest, acquire valuable career and interpersonal skills, prepare for a vocation, and fulfill the basic requirement in humanities. The study of religion can aid in developing skills for the analysis of human problems and the means for their solution. It also promotes ethical awareness and commitment. Such knowledge, skills, and commitment can facilitate careers.

Majors in religious studies are fully qualified to enter seminary and prepare for a vocation in the church, or they may choose to pursue a doctorate in religion and follow an academic career as teachers and scholars. Other graduates have entered the fields of business, counseling, publishing, social work, law, and medicine.

Students majoring or minoring in religious studies will select their individualized course of study in consultation with their departmental advisors. The major leads to a balanced and integrated understanding of basic concepts and methodologies in the study of religion.Nine courses are required for a major; five for a minor.

The senior seminar (Religious Studies 485) is a course designed to promote reflection on the course of study and discussion of its content with fellow majors and the religious studies faculty. The final examination for the seminar requires the student to analyze and synthesize important issues in the study of religion. A senior paper should reflect a student’s mature thinking on a topic of concern to religious studies.

Special Opportunities. The Joseph Reeves Hyde Award in Religious Studies is presented annually to a junior student at Rhodes College to allow the student to pursue an activity related to the discipline of religious studies, preferably in the summer between the junior and the senior years.

The department sponsors internships in Memphis area religious, social, and health agencies. Each Spring the department offers a unique supervised chaplaincy internship designed for premedical students, as well as those looking to patient-related vocations such as counseling, nursing, ministry, etc.

Religious Studies and Life: Then and Now. Courses in religious studies are a vital part of the basic requirement in humanities. All courses designated L may be used for this purpose. Members of the department will assist students in selecting the group of courses that best satisfies their interests.

Interdisciplinary majors. The department encourages interdisciplinary majors. Working closely with advisors from Religious Studies and from another department, students design individual programs of courses to define and explore areas of complementary concern. Normally, such programs require fewer courses than a double major but more than the minimum required for a major in Religious Studies (twelve). Individual plans must have approval from both departments concerned, be submitted to the Faculty Curriculum Committee and be approved by the faculty of the College. In the Senior Seminar in Religious Studies, students in an interdisciplinary major may present a senior paper which reflects the interdisciplinary character of their studies.