Richard J. Callahan, Jr., Chair

221 Arts & Science Building, Columbia, MO 65211-7090 / 573-882-4769


The Department of Religious Studies offers the undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree with a major or minor in Religious Studies, and the graduate Masters of Arts degree in Religious Studies.

Our faculty members have won prestigious awards for their excellence in teaching and advising. They are nationally and internationally recognized scholars in the academic study of religion. We have particular strengths in the following areas:

  • American Religious History
  • Native American Religions
  • Biblical studies
  • History of Christianity
  • Islam
  • Judaism
  • Religions of East Asia
  • Religions of South Asia
  • Religions of Indigenous peoples

The Department is particularly interested in the intersections of religion with neuroscience, popular culture, gender, class, and society. Our methods and approaches are multidisciplinary, combining textual, historical, sociological, anthropological, psychological, comparative, and cultural studies perspectives.

Donate to the Jill Raitt Opportunities for Excellence in Religious Studies Fund


September 28, 2016

The Department of Religious Studies affirms the necessity of all members of our community to be treated with respect and inclusion. We are saddened and angry at the continued racism on our campus, and stand in support of those struggling against it.

August 12, 2016

We are offering two graduate seminars this fall that have plenty of room for grad students in any department who might be interested:

  • Rel_St 8005, “Religion and Ethnic Identity,” taught by Dr. Dennis Kelley
  • Rel_St 8200, “Religious Texts and Interpretation: The Vedas,” taught by Dr. Signe Cohen

Register for these courses through

July 8, 2016

The Department of Religious Studies joins the rest of the nation in mourning the lives of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. We also mourn the dead and wounded police officers and civilians in Dallas. One of our jobs in our discipline is to try to understand how the classification of human (and non-human) beings and communities enables (or disrupts) systems of power and concepts of value. It is important in this regard to acknowledge and examine the central role that race has played, and continues to play, in American life and death. Only by talking about this topic openly and plainly, with the academic tools at our disposal, will we have any hope of healing..

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Prof. Nate Hofer will be speaking at the College of Education about diversity and his research. The talk is on Thursday, Sept. 1, 11am-12pm in Townsend 220 (The Bridge).

More information here

The Religious Studies Majors’ Dinner will take place at 7:00pm on Thursday, April 28. Please contact the Department for details.

Dr. Judith Weisenfeld of Princeton University will be delivering the Eighth Annual Distinguished Lecture on Religion and Public Life on April 12 at 7:30 pm in Jesse Wrench Auditorium in Memorial Union. The Title of her talk will be “Apostles of Race: Religion and Black Racial Identity in the Great Migration.” More information available here:

Professor Signe Cohen will be presenting a talk for the MU Honors College's "Speaking of Culture" series on Sunday, September 20. The title of her talk is "Romancing the Robot: Humans, Machines, and Doomed Romance in Ancient Buddhist Robot Tales." This series is free and open to the public! The event takes place at Orr Street Studies, 106 Orr Street in downtown Columbia. More information here:

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