Religions in North America


The Religion in North America field offers a culture- and place-sensitive approach to the study of religion. In contrast to tradition-specific fields, the Religion in North America field examines any, several, all traditions, as well as forms of religiosity arising in the interstices between traditions. Such examination involves attention to ideas, practices, general ethos, and surrounding context. This field focuses primarily on the United States, but its scope can be extended to the Americas more generally and across the Pacific or the Atlantic. Attention is given to the diversity of religious life in its historical and sociological contexts, both in popular expression and organized institutional forms. The field also inquires about and charts the stories and mechanisms of conflict, contest, and combination that are crucial to understanding the story of North American religiosity. As a field of study, religion in North America is multifaceted and interdisciplinary, encompassing historical, sociological, ethnographic, political/legal, psychological, comparative, literary, media-driven, and region-centered studies.

With the approval of their advisor, students may choose to specialize in various themes, methods, or traditions. Field-based specializations can be linked with existing university-wide program emphases in global studies, cognitive science, and feminist studies. Area/traditions-based specialization will be well served by existing faculty in Religious Studies and our affiliated faculty and curricula across the university.

General Requirements:
Students in this concentration are expected to complete foundational coursework in historical and sociological approaches to religion in the Americas, supplemented by other topic-relevant theories and methods. Whatever their special focus and particular program (to be determined in consultation with the student’s advisor and appropriate committee), all students should take:

  • the two-quarter historical survey of religion in the United States (RS 151A* and RS 151B*)
  • at least one course in the social scientific study of religion in North American (e.g., RS101*, RS141E*, RS240, RS243/4, RS292 (Moore, Law & Religion).
  • at lease one course in African American, Asian American, Latina/o, or Native American religion(s) (RS140*, RS156*, RS162F*, RS191A*, RS247, RS266R, others as offered)
  • one or two methods courses, depending on the student’s specialization within the field and proposed dissertation focus
    *Upper division courses must include additional graduate level work.

Students are reminded that the above requirements in the Religion in North America coincide with departmental and university-wide requirements for degree completion. Coursework should be planned carefully in consultation with the student’s faculty advisor, in consultation, as needed, with the graduate Program Advisor or the faculty Graduate Advisor.

Language Requirements:
In keeping with departmental requirements, students are required to demonstrate proficiency in either French or German. Students in RNA may meet the second language requirement in one of the following ways: (1) French or German, whichever was not used as the basic language, (2) a research language approved by the student’s advisor, or (3) statistics (see Option A and Option B).

Option A: Either two-quarter sequence (SOC 205A-B or PSY 221 A-B) may be used to fulfill the second foreign language, if it is not being used to fulfill the methods requirement.

Option B: Either three-quarter sequence (SOC 205A-B-C or PSY A-B-C) may be used to fulfill the second language and methods requirements.

Faculty in the concentration: Professors Busto, Moore, Roof, TalamantezTaves, & Walker.