The Department of Religious Studies at The University of Texas at Austin fosters scholarly inquiry about religion. Established in 2007, it provides a venue within the University and the community for the exploration of the historical, intellectual, social, and cultural aspects of religions and for the dissemination of knowledge about religion and religions. The department offers multidisciplinary curricula at the undergraduate and graduate levels that explore the ways in which the formation and practice of religious ideas, texts and behaviors are embedded within particular cultures.
The core faculty in the Department of Religious Studies comprise some of the foremost scholars of religion in the country. Working at the forefront of emerging trends within the discipline, they combine in-depth knowledge of specific religious texts, traditions, beliefs and practices with interests in the movement of religious phenomena across regions and in the development of comparative and theoretical perspectives for the study of religion. The faculty has particular strengths in the following areas: religion in Latin America; religion in the United States; ancient South Asian religions; religion in contemporary Japan; religion in the ancient Mediterranean world; ancient Judaism and Hebrew Bible; Christian origins and ancient Christianity; religion in medieval Europe and the Middle East. Faculty members have won a number of prominent awards and prestigious fellowships for scholarship in these areas.
In addition to being top-notch scholars, our faculty are committed to excellence in teaching. The undergraduate major in Religious Studies has been offered at UT since 2001. Its multidisciplinary curriculum integrates the study of religious traditions past and present, from many parts of the world, with theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of religion. The major offers breadth and flexibility in its design. In the course of their studies, students have the freedom to explore different traditions, cultures, and religious phenomena, as well as the opportunity to specialize in one particular tradition or geographic area. The Honors Program in Religious Studies lets students work closely with a faculty member on an independent research project culminating in the writing of a senior thesis. Students can draw on the expertise of the core Religious Studies faculty as well as our more than 50 affiliate members, who come from departments across the University, such as History, Anthropology, Sociology, English, Classics, Art History, Middle Eastern Studies, Asian Studies, and Latin American Studies. In order to support our undergraduates, the department offers a number of generous scholarships every year to support outstanding students. Our graduates have gone on to explore careers in a diverse range of fields such as law, public policy, medicine, academia, the ministry, investment banking, teaching, the Peace Corps, and Teach for America.
The new Graduate Program in Religious Studies, the first of its kind at a public university in the state of Texas, enrolled its first students in Fall 2011. Its distinctive curriculum seeks to balance the in-depth study of religion and culture within a particular region and period with thematic and theoretical approaches that encourage common conversations between students and faculty across the discipline of Religious Studies. Each graduate student in the program pursues a carefully defined course of study in one of five areas of concentration: Religion in the Americas; Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean; Religion in Asia; Religion in Europe and the Middle East; and Transregional and Comparative Studies in Religion. In addition, all students take core courses in theory and method and participate in on-going colloquia that bring together faculty and students from across the department to share works-in-progress and read published works of common interest. In the process, students develop a disciplinary identity in Religious Studies that enables them to work within and across different subfields. This distinctive curriculum, together with the excellence of our faculty and the wealth of research support available at UT, leave the new program poised to become one of the premier programs in the country for the graduate study of religion.