• Religion and Society class visits various faith centers
  • Explore religions in historical and comparative contexts
  • MTSU major looks at global religious traditions
  • Religious Studies degree is only one offered at region’s public universities

Religious Studies, B.A./B.S.

MTSU’s new Religious Studies major is the first for a public university in middle Tennessee. The academic study of religion contributes to the wider study of global cultures and international affairs, as well as personal and collective identities. Coursework in Religious Studies prepares students for occupations in a variety of fields, including education, research, religious ministry, counseling, human resources, and marketing. In addition to developing critical thinking skills, religious literacy helps prepare students to succeed in an increasingly diverse and multicultural society and workforce, from jobs as wide-ranging as international business leader to elementary school teacher. MTSU classes include such activities as experiential learning, fieldwork and ethnographic projects, scholarly research, production of short documentary films, independent foreign study, and language training.

Local religious leader receives EXL Award

Local religious leader receives EXL Award

Dr. Ossama Bahloul, of the Islamic Center of Nashville, won MTSU’s EXL Award for Outstanding Community Participant for his partnership with the Religious Studies program. Bahloul, imam of the Murfreesboro Islamic Center during 2008–16, has generously hosted students to observe Friday prayers at the Islamic Center every semester since the Fall 2014 inception of the Experiential Learning course RS 2030: Religion and Society. He also has graciously met with students and answered their numerous questions concerning the practice of Islam, the experiences of the Muslim community in Murfreesboro, and the role of Islam in global current events. Students, often with limited exposure to traditions outside of their own religious communities, report this opportunity as a highlight of their academic year.

Lily Endowment awards grant to MTSU faculty

Lily Endowment awards grant to MTSU faculty

Program coordinators Dr. Jenna Gray-Hildenbrand and Dr. Rebekka King were awarded a $30,000 collaborative grant (with University of North Florida and Clemson University) from the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion. This curriculum development grant, for new religious studies programs at Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges member institutions, funds curriculum workshops and initiatives. As part of the grant, a religious studies consultant is working with MTSU faculty on learning outcomes, assessment, and measures. MTSU’s Religious Studies faculty also consulted with programs and centers for the study of religion across the U.S. and internationally to develop learning outcomes which emphasize critical thinking and religious literacy.

A Religious Studies major provides students with an invaluable foundation for a wide range of careers in which reading, writing, understanding, and analysis are essential. A bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies also prepares students exceptionally well for graduate programs, according to a 2015 report from the American Academy of Religion. Over 75% of Religious Studies graduates surveyed nationwide had pursued graduate work in fields such as religion and theology, psychology, law, history, philosophy, anthropology, and sociology. The survey also found majors were primarily employed in these areas:

  • Religious organizations (20.3%)
  • College faculty and administration (13.3%)
  • K–12 education (9.6%)
  • Nonprofit or community organizations (8.7%)
  • Business and finance (8.0%)
  • Law (5.9%)
  • Medicine and nursing (5.2%)
  • Counseling and mental health (4.4%)
  • Information systems and technology (4.4%)
  • Government and public administration (3.8%) 

Employers of MTSU alumni include

Because this degree program is new, employer information is still being compiled.

Students majoring in Religious Studies at MTSU have the option of pursuing the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree, which requires proficiency in a foreign language, or the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. 

As a descriptive, interpretive, comparative and historical field, Religious Studies coursework helps prepare students to become well-informed, independent, and creative thinkers equipped with the methods and theories necessary to study religious phenomena in a systematic way, to synthesize findings, and to analyze critically what one finds.

The Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies also offers a B.A. and B.S. in Philosophy, while minors are available in Philosophy and Religious Studies. Additionally, the department contributes to 17 academic minors.

For complete curriculum details, click on the REQUIREMENTS tab above.

B.S. in Religious Studies B.A. in Religious Studies


B.S. in Religious Studies

General Education (41 hours)

General Education requirements include Communication (9 hours), History (6 hours), Humanities and/or Fine Arts (9 hours), Mathematics (3 hours), Natural Sciences (8 hours), and Social/Behavioral Science (6 hours) categories. 

Major Field Core

Required Courses (9 hours)

RS 2030 - Religion and Society
RS 3020 - Comparative Religion
RS 4900 - Seminar in Religious Studies      

Select one from DESCRIPTION: TERMS AND CONCEPTS (3 hours)

RS 3050 - Rites of Passage     
RS 3060 - Pilgrimage and Sacred Journeys
RS 3600 - Religion and Film   

Select one from ANALYSIS: CULTURAL AREAS & TRADITIONS (3 hours)

RS 3010 - The Bible: Its Origin and Content
RS 3040 - History of Christianity      
RS 4010 - Global Christianity  
RS 4030 - Contemporary Issues in Indigenous Religions  
RS 4040 - Hinduism, Buddhism, and Asian Religions      
RS 4050 - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam  
RS 4120 - Cults and New Religious Movements     

Select one from CRITIQUE: DISCIPLINARY APPROACHES (3 hours)

RS 3030 - Mapping Religious Diversity       
RS 4020 - Jesus of Nazareth   
RS 4130 - Religion and Law   
RS 4201 - Women and Religion 

Guided Religious Studies Electives (15 hours)

Select 15 hours from Religious Studies courses in consultation with advisor according to student interest, career ambitions, and learning goals. 

Minor (15-18 credit hours) 

Electives (19-34 hours)

Total hours in program: 120


B.A. in Religious Studies


General Education (41 hours)

General Education requirements include Communication (9 hours), History (6 hours), Humanities and/or Fine Arts (9 hours), Mathematics (3 hours), Natural Sciences (8 hours), and Social/Behavioral Science (6 hours) categories. 

Major Field Core

Required Courses (9 hours)

RS 2030 - Religion and Society
RS 3020 - Comparative Religion
RS 4900 - Seminar in Religious Studies

Select one from DESCRIPTION: TERMS AND CONCEPTS (3 hours)

RS 3050 - Rites of Passage     
RS 3060 - Pilgrimage and Sacred Journeys
RS 3600 - Religion and Film   

Select one from ANALYSIS: CULTURAL AREAS & TRADITIONS (3 hours)

RS 3010 - The Bible: Its Origin and Content
RS 3040 - History of Christianity      
RS 4010 - Global Christianity  
RS 4030 - Contemporary Issues in Indigenous Religions  
RS 4040 - Hinduism, Buddhism, and Asian Religions      
RS 4050 - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam  
RS 4120 - Cults and New Religious Movements     

Select one from CRITIQUE: DISCIPLINARY APPROACHES (3 hours)

RS 3030 - Mapping Religious Diversity
RS 4020 - Jesus of Nazareth
RS 4130 - Religion and Law
RS 4201 - Women and Religion       

Guided Religious Studies Electives (15 hours)

Select 15 hours from Religious Studies courses in consultation with advisor according to student interest, career ambitions, and learning goals. 

Foreign Language Requirement (12 hours)

Minor (15-18 credit hours) 

Electives (19-22 hours) 

Total hours in program: 120

RS 2030 - Religion and Society
3 credit hours

Introduces the academic study of world religions with an emphasis on the ways religion both influences and is influenced by society and human behavior.

RS 3010 - The Bible: Its Origin and Content
3 credit hours

Studies the historical development of biblical and extra-biblical texts with an emphasis on cultivating the skills of critical textual analysis, an understanding of reception history, and the emergence of diverse canons and interpretive approaches across different communities, both Jewish and Christian.

RS 3020 - Comparative Religion
3 credit hours

The meaning of religion in life, both ancient and modern. The impact of intellectual and emotional commitment upon conduct is emphasized through a study of world religions.

RS 3030 - Mapping Religious Diversity
3 credit hours

Explores religious diversity in North America with a focus on local case studies. Students will conduct original, ethnographic research examining religious sites in Murfreesboro.

RS 3040 - The History of Christianity
3 credit hours

A socio-historical survey of Christian thought and practice from the patristic period to the contemporary era. Discusses major events, texts, and figures in Christian history. Includes the study of theological concepts, interpretations of scripture, Christianity and politics, gender and sexuality, and disputes over orthodoxy.

RS 3050 - Rites of Passage
3 credit hours

The study of religious rituals and ceremonies that mark specific points in time, namely those in which individuals experience transition (births, weddings, funerals, and initiations). Explores how rites of passage and religious identities around the world are constructed and serve as sites of both conflict and resolution in a variety of religious traditions and cultural contexts.

RS 3600 - Religion and Film
3 credit hours

Examines the cinematic expression of religious traditions and development of religious issues in cinema.

RS 4010 - Global Christianity
3 credit hours

Examines global Christianities focusing on how narratives of the global correspond to and feed into localized religious practices within Christianity in a variety of regional and specific contexts.

RS 4020 - Jesus of Nazareth
3 credit hours

Surveys the diverse portraits of Jesus reflected in the socio-culture interface of the first century CE, early Christian literature, the modern scholarly quest for the historical Jesus, and in light of recent discussions, movements, films, and books

RS 4030 - Contemporary Issues in Indigenous Religions
3 credit hours

Examines and analyzes contemporary issues in the religious lives of Native American, First Nations, Aboriginal, and other indigenous groups from a religious studies perspective.

RS 4050 - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
3 credit hours

Explores historical and socio-cultural developments within Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; their relation to other religions of the world.

RS 4120 - Cults and New Religious Movements
3 credit hours

Investigates how new religious movements emerge, develop, and interact with American society and surveys "cult controversies" in the United States, asking why some new religious movements gain cultural legitimacy while others do not.

RS 4130 - Religion and Law
3 credit hours

Explores the complex and contested relationship between religion and the law by examining how debates over the proper relationship of religion and government as well as the limits of religious freedom have developed and changed over time.

RS 4700 - Special Topics in Religious Studies
3 credit hours

An in-depth study of a specific topic in Religious Studies. Content will vary from semester to semester and will reflect the research interests and expertise of the instructor. May be taken more than once, as topics change for a maximum of 9 hours.

RS 4800 - Readings in Religious Studies
3 credit hours

Directed study concerning a particular problem or thinker within religious studies.

Contact and Student Information

Jenna Gray-Hildenbrand
Jenna.Gray-Hildenbrand@mtsu.edu
615-898-2758

Rebekka King
Rebekka.King@mtsu.edu
615-494-8987

Jenna Gray-Hildenbrand
Jenna.Gray-Hildenbrand@mtsu.edu
615-898-2758

Rebekka King
Rebekka.King@mtsu.edu
615-494-8987

Department of Philosophy
Middle Tennessee State University
1301 East Main Street
MTSU Box 73
Murfreesboro, TN 37132

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