Undergraduate Program

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

    What do shamans, politicians, nurses, prophets, intellectuals, nuns, slaves, and soldiers have in common? They are all part of the Religious Studies curriculum at MU, which studies religion as a powerful influence in human life and history, shaping global cultures, national identities, and the values of individuals. Religious Studies majors explore the roles religion plays in societies, the ways that religious institutions grow and change, the meanings of scriptures from around the world, the extraordinary experiences of religious specialists, and much more.

    Contact

  • The Major

    College of Arts and Science Requirements

    • minimum 120 hours with a cumulative GPA of 2.0
      Up to 40 Religious Studies hours may count toward the total 120.
    • minimum 30 hours numbered 3000 and above

    For more information about College of Arts and Science requirements and General Education requirements, please see A Guide for the Major (pdf).

    Religious Studies Department Requirements for the Major

    • 30 hours in Religious Studies, at least 21 hours of which are numbered 2000 or above; the credit in almost all Religious Studies courses is 3 hours.
      • RS 1100: Introduction to Religion, or RS 2110: Religions of the World
      • RS 399: Majors Seminar (ordinarily taken during Spring Semester of the Junior year)
      • RS 4100: Advanced Theories and Methods (ordinarily taken during Fall Semester of the Senior year)
      • RS 4990: Senior Seminar (ordinarily taken during Spring Semester of the Senior year)
    • 3 hours earned in each of three required fields (Asian Religious Traditions, Indigenous Religious Traditions, Western Religious Traditions) and there are many courses from which to choose to satisfy this requirement.
    • 9 hours earned in any course in Religious Studies that a major chooses.
    • Only religious studies courses completed with a grade of C or above are acceptable for a major in Religious Studies
    • Majors must complete a graduation plan with the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Religious Studies in 221 A&S, and personally deliver it to the A&S Advising Center in 107 Lowry to be officially filed.
    • Students who are interested in pursuing a double major, with majors in Religious Studies and another discipline in which they are also interested, are encouraged to do this. Double majors must complete a graduation plan for each major.
  • The Minor

    Religious Studies Requirements for the Minor

    • 15 hours in Religious Studies, at least 6 hours of which are numbered 2000 or above.
    • 3 hours earned in each of three required fields (Asian Religious Traditions, Indigenous Religious Traditions, Western Religious Traditions) and there are many courses from which to choose to satisfy this requirement.
    • Only religious studies courses completed with a grade of C or above are acceptable for a major in Religious Studies
    • Majors must complete a graduation plan with the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Religious Studies in 221 A&S, and personally deliver it to the A&S Advising Center in 107 Lowry to be officially filed.
  • Honors

    A student who wishes to graduate with Honors in Religious Studies must submit an honors thesis. To be eligible to submit a thesis for Honors in Religious Studies, a major must be a senior or second semester junior and must have at least an overall GPA of 3.3 and a GPA of 3.5 in Religious Studies.

    An honors thesis should arise from an original conception of the student and then involve significant research in appropriate primary and secondary sources. The student should ultimately have a command of the subject ordinarily expected of a master’s degree candidate.

    The honors thesis may be a newly conceived paper or a substantial revision and expansion of an earlier essay. In length it should comprise between 25 and 30 pages. The finished essay should follow the Turabian Chicago style, or another generally accepted standard format. It should be clear, coherent, and persuasive.

    Work on the honors thesis must be done under the direction of a faculty advisor from the Department of Religious Studies. A detailed proposal needs to be submitted to the faculty advisor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the semester prior to starting work on the thesis, i.e., in Fall if thesis work is planned for the Spring semester, or in Spring or Summer if thesis work is planned for the Fall semester. If the proposal is accepted, the student will enroll in RS 4960 "Directed Reading" in the following semester and will work closely with his/her advisor throughout that semester. The three credit hours of this course can be counted towards the minimum 30 hours required of the major.

    Two copies of the completed thesis need to be submitted two weeks prior to that semester’s stop day, one to the advisor and one to a second Religious Studies faculty member. Two weeks later a formal defense will be held, during which the readers will determine whether or not the thesis merits honors.

  • Awards and Scholarships

    Department Scholarships

    Chapman Scholars in Religion
    Each year the department gives two awards to majors for their accomplishments in the study of religion and their contributions to the program in Religious Studies. These awards have been made possible by a gift to the department from Dr. Charles L. and Paula Chapman.

    The Community Service Scholarship
    The department also awards one or two scholarships each year to students who have demonstrated a commitment to public service. Majors, minors, and masters degree students are eligible. Nomination forms are available at the department office. A gift from Elizabeth MacKenzie in honor of her father allowed the department to establish this award.

    MU and Arts & Science Programs

    Mentorship
    The College of Arts and Science has a fine program for honors-eligible students. Summer mentorships provide $3,000 to enable the student to research and write without having to do other kinds of work for the two months (June-July) of the formal mentorship period. Working closely with a professor, the student is expected to write a paper of publishable quality and to orally present his/her work at the end of July. Semester mentorships provide $500 for the same purposes. Applications may be made in March or November.

    McNair Program
    One of the most exciting aspects of the McNair Program is the opportunity for undergraduate students at the junior and senior levels to participate in research experiences.

    Interns receive a stipend to conduct research and engage in other scholarly activities with faculty mentors from the areas in which they hope to pursue graduate study. McNair Scholars also attend professional conferences with their mentors, go to graduate school fairs, prepare for graduate school entrance exams, receive guidance through the graduate school application process and obtain information on securing fellowships, graduate assistantships, and loans. Participants learn about graduate school life, advanced library skills, and effective ways to present their work.

    At the completion of the research internships at MU, McNair scholars make formal presentations of their research to faculty and peers at the McNair Scholars Conference and submit papers summarizing their work.

    Students who are in their freshman and sophomore years are considered recruits and participate in a pre-intern program. They learn about the opportunities associated with having a doctoral education, what research and scholarly activity entail, and what they should do as underclassmen to prepare to become McNair Scholars.

    Undergraduate Scholarships and Mentorships

    For help with the following scholarships, see the MU Fellowships Office.

    Truman Scholarships provide generous funding, beginning in the junior year, for students who plan to pursue a career in government. At least one is selected from the state of Missouri each year, and 105 are selected nationwide. Because selection is made during the fall semester of the sophomore year, students should begin preparing as freshmen. Applications are usually due November 1.

    Rhodes Scholarships provide funding for two years of study at Oxford University in England. Selection is usually made during the fall semester of the senior year. Applications are usually due November 1.

    Fulbright Scholarships provide funding for research and study in other countries. Selection is usually made during the senior year or thereafter. Applications are due in June or September, depending on the country, for study a year later.

    Rotary Scholarships, provided by Rotary Clubs, allow a year's study in a country that has Rotary Clubs. Applications are usually due to local Rotary clubs by June for study a year later.

    Foreign Language Scholarships, open to majors who want to develop a high level of ability in a language, is a two-year award by the Air Force ROTC.

  • Religious Studies Club

    The Religious Studies Department sponsors a club for religious studies majors, minors, and other students who have an interest in the study of religions. With the advice of the Director of Undergraduate Studies and the support of the department, the club elects its officers and plans and promotes its activities. Any University of Missouri student interested in the study of religions is encouraged to contact the Religious Studies Department for information about the Religious Studies Club.

    Find us on Facebook - Mizzou Religious Studies Club