General Undergraduate Information

(For more detailed information about the Major, Minor, and combined Art History/Religious Studies Major, please visit the UCR Catalog main page).

Majoring in Religious Studies can be excellent preparation simply for living and working in a pluralistic and multicultural society. It can also provide excellent training for a variety of careers, such as teaching, counseling, business, law, writing, medicine, the arts, and professional religious leadership.  The faculty seeks to develop in students a number of important, valuable, and transferable skills required by any profession or position. Courses in Religious Studies at the University of California, Riverside encourage students to become well-informed and independent thinkers prepared to learn and engage in scholarly research techniques, including collection of information and distillation and analysis of data with the help of critical skills and methods. The major requires students to: pay close attention to facts through careful and unprejudicial reading of texts; have an open attitude toward sources; and make close observation of individual and group behavior. Students also apply critical analysis and interpretation of data based on appropriate theoretical and methodological tools and communicate findings and conclusions clearly and effectively through expository and analytical writing and oral presentation.

Religious Studies majors have many opportunities for research and special and independent studies beyond coursework. The Department’s teaching faculty regularly sponsors field trips to religious sites such as the Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple in Hacienda Heights, Saint Andrew’s Orthodox Church, and the Islamic Center of Riverside. Religious Studies undergraduate organizations include a Religious Studies Club, and a local chapter of Theta Alpha Kappa, the national honor society for Religious Studies. Internships in the field of Religious Studies are available, and the following Religious Studies merit scholarships are available to students annually:

Undergraduate Student Scholarships

The Religious Studies Encouragement Award ($300)
For a student who is at an early stage in the academic study of religion and whose initial achievements demonstrate promise and potential as attested to by faculty recognition and support.

The Barbara and Donald Donner Essay Award ($300)
In Recognition of Undergraduate Research and Writing in the Academic Study of Religion
This spring quarter award competition is open to anyone who, as a UCR undergraduate, has written a paper that illuminates some aspect of religion. Although the paper submitted for the award must have been written in the context of an academic program or department at UCR, this is not limited to those classes specifically offered by the Department of Religious Studies. Ask department faculty about essay specifications.

The Religious Studies Achievement Award ($500)
Awarded to a UCR Religious Studies student who has demonstrated meritorious achievement. Eligibility criteria:

  • GPA in Religious Studies of 3.5 or above.
  • Demonstrated progress in the goals of the department such as disciplined attention to the facts, critical and creative reflection, analysis, and interpretation, and clear communication orally and in writing.
  • Meritorious level of work as attested to by faculty who have worked with the student.

The Edwin S. Gaustad Award ($500)
In honor of Edwin S. Gaustad’s numerous outstanding contributions to the study of religion. Awarded to a UCR Religious Studies graduating senior or a recent graduate who has demonstrated an interest in pursuing graduate studies in religion. Eligibility criteria:

  • GPA in Religious Studies of 3.5 or above.
  • Demonstrated progress in the goals of the department such as disciplined attention to the facts, critical and creative reflection, analysis, and interpretation, and clear communication orally and in writing.
  • Meritorious level of work as attested to by faculty who have worked with the student.