Degree Programs

Overview of programs for majors and minors

The department’s major programs build upon the liberal arts foundation of its GUR courses. Its B.A. Humanities degree program offers two concentrations, in the Humanities: History of Culture, and in Religion and Culture. The department offers three minor programs, in Humanities: History of Culture, in Religion and Culture, and in Arabic and Islamic Studies (in collaboration with the Department of Modern and Classical Languages).

The department supports Student-Faculty Designed Majors in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. This program allows students, in consultation with a faculty advisory committee, to design a course of study that is not available through existing departmental majors. The department also provides support, along with other departments, for the East Asian Studies program.

Common Questions

Global Humanities and Religions is a name for interdisciplinary departments that focus on the ‘liberal arts’, and the ‘liberal arts’ refer to the kinds of skills and the areas of knowledge which all educated people should have, before they begin specialized training for their career or profession. The name Global Humanities and Religions reflects the department’s long-standing commitment to provide high quality GUR courses which include instruction and practice in critical thinking and clear and effective writing, as well as knowledge of some of the great texts and religious, intellectual and cultural movements of Western cultures and non-Western cultures as well. Students who major with the department do not get a degree in ‘Global Humanities and Religions’. Our degree programs are rigorous, interdisciplinary programs in Humanities.

The B.A. Humanities programs are interdisciplinary. They attract students who want to major in more than one Humanities discipline, or who want to investigate problems which are interdisciplinary by their nature. For example, the program in Religion and Culture provides an in depth, cross-cultural study of religious beliefs, practices, and organizations in relation to their historical contexts, and uses the disciplines of theology and philosophy, studies of literature and the visual arts, political, social, cultural and intellectual history, and ethnology.

The small size of classes and seminars in the major encourage close relationships between students and faculty. Students conduct independent research on topics of their own choosing. Working closely with faculty, students can learn to formulate problems clearly, to consider and evaluate different methods and concepts, to do efficient and thorough research, and to write clearly, concisely and effectively.

Training in critical thinking, the ability to do thorough and efficient research, and clear and effective writing skills prepare students for a variety of professional graduate schools and careers, including education, law, librarianship, the ministry, and work with businesses and non-profit organizations. The Humanities—Elementary Education major, offered in conjunction with Woodring College, is specifically designed for students who plan a career in elementary education. Students who wish to pursue a career in secondary education should contact the department for advice. Some students who have done excellent work in the department have found success in graduate academic programs in literature, history and the study of religion.

Students who have a clearly defined, interdisciplinary program most of which is within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, which cannot be pursued through majors and minors offered by departments of the College, should consider a Student-Faculty Designed Major. Most courses in their plan for study must be offered by departments in the College. Students design a major in conference with a committee of appropriate faculty members from academic departments represented in the student's major curriculum.  Click here for more information about Student-Faculty Designed Majors.

Sculpture of Indian Goddess with many arms.