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Religious Studies

Religious Studies is the exploration of the expression of religion in human cultures. Students study the history of religions and learn to analyze the interaction of religions and cultures across the globe and across time. Religion is a major force in human experience. It has shaped the world’s history, literature, art, culture, politics, ethics and economics. Religious traditions have laid the foundation for human rights, social justice, toleration and world peace. Exploring religion in an academic setting is essential preparation for any profession today.

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The Civil Rights Pilgrimage was undoubtedly one of the most formative experiences of my college career. I learned about the genuine need for social justice in the 21st century, particularly in the areas of educational inequality.

Sarah Westad, history major, religious studies minor


  • Religious Studies - Liberal Arts


  • Religious Studies - Liberal Arts


  • Middle East Studies
  • World Religions

Contact Info

Pamela J. Forman, Philosophy and Religious Studies
Hibbard Humanities Hall 619
124 Garfield Avenue

Department website

Prepared for success

We are home to one of the few Philosophy and Religious Studies departments in the state. Through classroom discussions, research projects, independent apprenticeship courses and directed studies, you will examine the meaning of religion and gain knowledge about world religions. You will explore indigenous traditions like Native American, Hmong and shamanism; Western religions like Islam, Judaism and Christianity; and Eastern religions like Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Shinto.

Religious Studies is an excellent background for many careers. This major provides rich preparation for careers that require specialized knowledge, sensitivity and skills in relating to people of various cultures. It also offers excellent preparation for educators and for graduate study in a wide range of fields. Our majors consistently earn top scores and go on to study in first-rate graduate and professional programs.

Our alumni have gone on to positions at such places as the Smithsonian Institution, Teach For America, Interfaith Network, Freedom From Religion Foundation, United Way and Veterans Affairs. Graduates include a Grammy Award-winning musician, college recruiter, youth services coordinator, public relations specialist, lawyer, psychologist, family counselor and minister. 

Where are our grads?

UW-Eau Claire religious studies alum Justin Vernon and his band, Bon Iver, won Grammys for the best new artist and best alternative album in 2012. The band has performed on "Saturday Night Live" and "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." Other alum can be found in the following careers:

  • Americorps Volunteer, Washington Service Corps
  • English Teacher, Peace Corps
  • Human Resources Coordinator, Silver Springs Foods
  • Administrative Assistant, Winnetka Bible Church
  • Executive Pastor, Valleybrook Church

Why UW-Eau Claire

Faculty Experts

Our faculty are well-published and engaged in ongoing research. We research and write books and essays on topics that include the problem of evil, religious violence, psychology of religion, new religious movements, Islam and pop culture, philosophy and pop culture, religion on the Internet, scholarship of teaching, forgiveness and rational disagreement. See the department faculty Web pages for specifics.

Research Opportunities

Students have opportunities to engage in collaborative research with faculty, work as research assistants on faculty projects and learn about the intricacies of life as a university professor through academic apprenticeships.

First-Year Suggested Curriculum

  • Liberal education coursework in writing, social sciences, math, and natural sciences

Take one of these before other RELS courses:

  • RELS 100, Intro to the Religions of the World
  • RELS 110, Basic Issues in Religion
  • RELS 210, Religion and Morality

Course Work / Pre-Professional Courses

Students can gain credit(s) in apprenticeship courses within the department, the most popular being the teaching apprenticeship courses.

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