In religious studies you explore spirituality, investigate the world views of others and formulate a personal theology using the insights of your faith tradition. Religious studies helps you engage important perennial questions in a meaningful way. What does it mean to be a spiritual person? What is the nature of the universe in which you live and how does this knowledge help you to be a responsible contributing member of a community? What is the nature of the sacred and the divine reality in life?
Your work in our courses helps you to become an academic practitioner of religious studies. By practitioner we mean that you gain the abilities needed to address the practical challenges of religious faithfulness and to achieve valued goals in service to God, in serving others and in living your life. As a student of religious studies you prepare for work in a chosen profession or for graduate school. Religious studies contributes strongly to your aspirations toward living a more religiously informed life, so you may also pursue it as a support to your career goals in another field, such as the natural or social sciences, or in a profession, such as nursing, business or education.
Majors and Supports
A major in religious studies at Alverno College prepares you for advanced study in graduate school or a number of rewarding careers. Careful consideration of a second major and support areas (minors) will prepare you to meet your goals. For example, students considering entering into ministry might want to consider a Major in Religious Studies with a second major in Psychology and a minor in Philosophy. Students who wish to teach in grade school or high school will take a support in Education. A double major in Religious studies and Philosophy (or other Humanities) will be prepared to enter into a graduate M.A. or Ph.D., program. Religious Studies coupled with a management or adult education support area leads to positions such as director of education or program manager of parish adult education centers. Your religious studies advisor will help you determine the best major/support combination for your career and life goals.
Religious Studies Outcomes
The outcomes for a Religious Studies major or support student are statements of what you will be able to know and do by the time you graduate from the department. Outcomes l, 2, 3 and 4 are required of Majors and Support Area students. All five outcomes are required of Majors.
- Scriptural and Theological Interpretation: Engages in scriptural and theological interpretation that is consistent with hermeneutical theory.
- Critical and Metaphorical Thinking: Through critical and metaphorical thinking, responds analytically and aesthetically to stories, symbols and rituals expressive of religious experience.
- Religious Pluralism: Critically explores the unique meanings and values expressed in various religious traditions.
- Moral and Ethical Responsibility: Develops and articulates a personal moral and ethical stance responsive to the complexity of contemporary issues.
- Professional Integration of Theological and Spiritual Theory and Practice: Articulates a personal theology based in core concepts, theories and methods of the discipline, and uses an effective theory of practice appropriate to the professional role aspired to.
Internships and Careers
Although we structure learning in every course to emphasize application of knowledge and abilities in true-to-life settings, it is in Alverno’s experiential learning program that our majors refine their understanding of professional practice. Every Alverno student is required to complete at least one internship placement. For religious studies majors with an area of study in secondary education, that placement is student teaching. Our other majors are placed at sites related to one of the various roles of religious studies practitioners in the community.
Some recent internship placements have included the pastoral ministry departments of major medical centers and rehabilitation hospitals, parish offices of religious education, the Archdiocesan central office, and Lutheran social services agencies. Students work between four and eight hours per week under the direct supervision of on-site mentors. These religious studies professionals have worked with Alverno faculty to promote close integration between on-site experience and the weekly interdisciplinary experiential learning seminar on campus.
The specialist in religious studies is particularly well prepared to be adept in assessing personal value and belief systems and in understanding the values and beliefs people share in groups. The religious studies graduate can make valuable contributions in varied areas of human service and development.
A student in religious studies who integrates in her learning experiences relevant support areas increases her options for employment. For example, religious studies coupled with a management or adult education support area leads to positions such as director of religious education or program manager of parish adult education centers.
Have you thought about:
- International tourism or business consulting?
Today, it is common for people to travel to and conduct business in countries that were inaccessible only a few short years ago. As a consultant or cultural liaison, you help others interact successfully and respectfully with religious cultures, beliefs, practices, and institutions that are unfamiliar and very different from their own. Such careers can provide deep personal satisfaction as well as the opportunity to travel and study.
- Global studies?
As you progress in your studies, you focus on expressions of religion across traditions and on the implications of religious beliefs, practices, and institutions for contemporary life. You develop the ability to clarify and affirm your own faith and to understand cultural differences within groups of people, whether at work or in your neighborhood or in society at large.
Through an ongoing process of identifying and refining religious questions and of using collaborative problem solving, you develop skills essential for theological inquiry and for responsible coping with contemporary issues.
Find out More
To find out more about Alverno's Religious Studies program, contact the Alverno Admissions office. An Admissions Counselor can answer your questions about the program, admissions, credit transfers and financial aid. Call 414-382-6100, toll-free at
1-800-933-3401 or e-mail Admissions.