What is Religious Studies?

Religious Studies is the academic study of the human phenomenon we call religion. As a public university, Montclair State does not support specific religious beliefs at the expense of others or encourage the practice of any particular religion, or of no religion. We teach, but do not preach, about religion.

Religious Studies looks at the "big questions": Is there a God? Do we live after we die? How did the universe come to be? Can we know right from wrong? Just as importantly, it examines how people have lived out these questions and their answers to them across different cultures and down through history.

Religious Studies is an inherently interdisciplinary endeavor. It examines the personal and collective aspects of religion and spirituality by incorporating approaches and techniques from psychology and sociology, anthropology and archaeology, history, literature and art, and philosophy and theology.

Religious Studies majors and minors at Montclair State are passionate, inquisitive, and diverse. Devoutly religious students sit side-by-side with doubters and atheists, learning about one another as well as the world in the fascinating universe of human religious thought and behavior.

Why Study Religion?

To the present day, religion plays an outsized role in the lives of individuals, communities, and nations. For better and for worse, religion provides individuals and groups with frameworks for understanding the meaning and purpose of their lives. In the United States, from First Amendment questions judged by the Supreme Court to national debates over everything from abortion to social justice, religions play various and conflicting roles. And of course religion cannot be separated from the partnerships and conflicts that dominate the global scene today.

A degree in Religious Studies provides students with broad cultural literacy and top-notch critical thinking skills. Religious Studies majors perform exceptionally well on standardized tests for post-graduate and professional study.

• Religious Studies majors are among the top three performers on the Verbal and Analytic Writing sections of the GRE for graduate school
• Religious Studies majors tie for second place (with Philosophy majors) for overall scores on the LSAT exam for law school

Career choices for Religious Studies majors, some of which require additional schooling, include:

• College Professor
• Minister, Rabbi, Imam, Priest
• Lawyer
• International Business Consultant
• Community Affairs Specialist
• Public Policy Specialist
• Non-profit Administrator
• Librarian
• Teacher

Religious Studies majors at Montclair State can now get New Jersey Teacher Certification for Elementary School, Middle School, or Special Education.

Our Faculty and Courses

The Religion faculty provide expertise in all the major religious traditions of the world, including indigenous religions and new religious movements, and represent a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of religion and spirituality. Students can learn the fine points of interpreting the Quran or understanding Buddhist philosophy; they can study the impact of religion on world politics or the role of women in Christian history.

Montclair State is one of the few public universities in New Jersey that offers a Religious Studies major. The major gives students a grounding in many different aspects of the study of religion, while allowing them to choose electives in the areas that interest them most. Those who minor in Religion have an opportunity to explore the field of Religious Studies and share a concluding seminar with other students majoring or minoring in Religion. All Religious Studies students are encouraged to investigate the religious cultures of peoples around the world and to experiment with different methods of interpreting religious texts and cultures.