Gain breadth and depth of understanding of the global phenomenon of religion and spirituality. Through close study of the diverse religious traditions of the world, the reciprocal impact of religions and cultures, and the meaning and importance of Christian biblical tradition, religious studies majors gain insights into and knowledge of the richness of human experience. Randolph-Macon’s unique curricular structure for the study of religion ensures a thorough understanding of three areas of emphasis – biblical studies; the world’s religious traditions; and religion and culture. Students cultivate important life and critical-thinking skills, and are well equipped to pursue graduate studies and a variety of careers in ministry, counseling, education, journalism, communications, social work, healthcare and law. 

Religious Studies
up close
In and Beyond the Classroom

Students studying religious writings in Israel

hands-On Learning

Experiencing and observing religious practices is fundamental to the study of religion, and classes are designed to include multiple opportunities for direct and immersive experiences like trips to religious sites, museums, and historically important places in Richmond and the Washington, DC area. In Introduction to Religion (RELS 205), students make small group visits to local churches, synagogues and meditation spaces to directly experience and discover unfamiliar forms of religious practice. 

Travel Courses

Religious studies majors may choose to expand their understanding of world religions and cultures through Randolph-Macon’s immersive travel courses. These courses explore historical and cultural ideas, the influence of folk religion, current religious practice, and its impact on life today. Some examples of recent faculty-led travel courses include:

  • Religions of Japan: Land of Kami, Land of Buddhas (RELS 248)
  • Jewish/Christian Identities in Ancient Israel/Palestine (RELS 246)
  • Jewish/Christian Identities in Today’s Israel/Palestine (RELS 247)
Israel cityscape
Two and clergy member review biblical text

Advising and Mentorship

As a religious studies major, you are guided by experienced and caring faculty in pursuing careers of your choice and graduate opportunities in all areas of study. You’ll find community and support from not only faculty, but student peers and staff mentors including the College’s Chaplain. Pre-ministerial students meet weekly as a group for personal support and vocational guidance as they develop the calling to ministry.

  • 3rd
    most popular religion in the world is Hinduism
  • 42%
    of US adults have switched religions

  • 1 in 5
    Americans share their faith online in a typical week
Students touring Israel

religious Studies
in full
Courses You Won’t Want to Miss

(A very small sample)

RELS 273

Women in the Bible

Study women in Jewish and Christian Scriptures, and explore the ways the literature moves readers to adopt various ideas about women. Analyze the historical and sociological realities of women in ancient Israel, early Judaism, and early Christian communities.

RELS 251

the Holocaust  

Study the impact of the Holocaust on individuals and groups through writings, films, and works of art. Examine Holocaust literature produced by Holocaust survivors and by its perpetrators, victims, resisters, and bystanders. Learn about religion’s role in the Holocaust and about the Holocaust’s continuing significance for both personal and social ethics, and religious faith and practice. 

RELS 260

Religions and the Natural Environment

Is nature sacred? How have different religious traditions conceived of and interacted with the natural world? How are religions responding to climate change today? Explore the historical and contemporary relations between religious traditions and the natural environment.

Opportunities Worth Grabbing

Popular activities and programs among religious studies majors
The Bishop of the Virginia United Methodist Conference visiting with pre-min students and the Bailey board on campus.
The Bishop of the Virginia United Methodist Conference visited pre-min students and the Bailey board on campus.

A. Purnell bailey pre-min program

A highly selective scholarship program that supports students who are discerning a future vocation in Christian ministry, featuring weekly meetings, internships, and special events.

campus ministry council

Supporting all of the faith groups on campus, the council meets regularly with the Chaplain to plan campus-wide programming.

From Here To What you can do with a Religious Studies degree from RMC

Jerry Ross '75

Jerry Ross ’75

Providence Park Baptist Church

“I am deeply grateful that RMC provided the foundation in religious studies for my master’s and doctoral programs. My graduating takeaways – Jesus was a Jew and the Hebrew Bible was his scriptures; and I learned my A, B, Cs (i. e., Biblical Hebrew) from my most beloved Professor Willie Chappell.”

tetsu kimura ’81

Various Roles (Now Retired)

“Graduating in 1981, my RMC liberal arts education and campus life experience prepared me for global careers in major companies including IBM, Symantec (currently known as Gen Digital) and Schneider Electric, a French global conglomerate. These responsibilities, some at local and regional management levels, took me to many of the major commercial cities worldwide, where I engaged and interacted with multi-national work forces. My career also gave me the opportunity to travel to many places around the world, including a life-time experience of an Aegean Sea cruise under a corporate recognition program.”

mel fleischer ’23

Director of Youth & Children’s Ministries at Welborne UMC
Master’s Candidate in Divinity at Union Presbyterian Seminary

matthew smith ’98

Senior Pastor
Calvary UMC Church

Drew Perdue ’23

Master’s Candidate, Divinity
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

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Get Ready Discover Religious Studies at RMC.