Religious Studies

Religious Studies: Major, Minor

The study of religion is a quintessential task of a Catholic, Jesuit college. It invites you, in an academic context, into a long tradition of theological and historical questions about the nature of humanity in relation to God and to the world, and it engages you in the interreligious and intercultural encounter that is taking place today. 

Given the impetus of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), which addressed the relationship between the Catholic Church and other religions, and given our present historical moment, the Department of Religious Studies is committed to integrating the study of Christian theology with the study of the world’s religions.

Through the courses it offers and the structure of its major the department’s approach to the study of religious belief and practice reflects Catholic theological commitments even as it responds to the needs of all students, Catholic and not, who will make their lives in a diverse, interconnected, and religiously pluralistic world.

The department offers a wide variety of courses that enable you to know and understand the Catholic tradition more deeply and to situate that tradition in the larger religious context of today’s world. Equally important, Catholicism has a distinctive religious culture and rich intellectual heritage that ground and support the study of the liberal arts.

As is appropriate in a Catholic, Jesuit academic institution committed to diversity and a mission to think critically, the department offers a range of courses that enable you to understand and to appreciate your own particular tradition, to situate that tradition in the wider context of other world religions, and to discover how diverse religious beliefs and practices are related and relevant to global concerns of poverty, injustice, and an environment in distress.

Our approach to the study of religion affirms that enduring commitments to faith—while always in need of study and discernment—are reasonable, responsible, and essential to human flourishing.

Program Highlights

To major in religious studies at Holy Cross is to undertake an integrated study, both intellectual and spiritual, of four areas central to understanding Catholicism and every faith tradition, namely:
  • world religions
  • theology 
  • sacred texts
  • religious ethics.
Honor Society

Academically outstanding majors are invited to join Theta Alpha Kappa, the national honor society for religious studies.


The department annually confers two awards to academically accomplished fourth-year students.

Harry Potter Course

A popular religious studies course on Harry Potter has generated national media coverage.

Religious Studies News

Nine Holy Cross faculty members are participating in a panel discussion at a faculty symposium held in Dinand Library. Photo by Michael Quiet
True Democracy Is Made Possible Through Work of Liberal Arts Institutions Like Holy Cross, Says Famed Legal Scholar Martha Minow
Holy Cross faculty symposium on democratic citizenship and global engagement was part of the inauguration festivities for President Vincent D. Rougeau
William Clark, SJ, associate professor of religious studies. Photo by Tom Rettig
Is Church Governance Becoming More Open and Inclusive? Religious Studies Professor Explains
The Conversation
Joanne Pierce, professor of religious studies. Photo by Rob Carlin
The Catholic Church Has Long History of Environmental Stewardship, Says Holy Cross Religious Studies Professor
The Conversation