MAJOR IN THEOLOGY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES

The department offers two programs for a Theology major—the primary major and the secondary major—each with a different focus.

The Primary Major is a 30 credit hours stand-alone Program that emphasizes a broad understanding of Christian and non-Christian theological and religious traditions. You may complete it in conjunction with another major (that is, the traditional major).

The Secondary Major is a 24 credit hours program that highlights the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary nature of theological inquiry and of the study of religion. You must complete it concurrently with another major.

EXPLORE THE MAJORS

Goal 1

Gain an understanding of the purposes, central issues, and methods of inquiry standard in theological and religious studies as applied to faith engaging culture.

Objective A: Analyze fundamental issues that frame theological and religious inquiry using appropriate scholarly methods, with attention to diversity and inclusion within the issues.

Objective B: Use critical methods to read, analyze, and interpret diverse religious and theological texts (e.g., women, minorities, non-western) and related genres or media, art, and artifacts (e.g., prayer, mystical writings, autobiographies, film, music).

Goal 2

Engage Christianity, with attention to Roman Catholicism, as a living tradition of practices and beliefs that continues to be refined, developed, and extended through time in diverse cultural contexts.

Objective A: Demonstrate understanding of the unique vocabulary, foundational sources, theological beliefs, historical developments, and diverse thinkers in the Christian tradition, with attention to those that reflect on the experiences of power, privilege, and marginalization.

Objective B: Articulate how Christian practices and beliefs reciprocally interact with diverse cultural contexts, local and global.

Goal 3

Render theological concepts and religious practices and beliefs intelligible, meaningful, and relevant in contemporary cultural contexts as a basis for transformative action in the world, in dialogue with others.

Objective A: Recognize the complexity and diversity of religious practices and beliefs and seek to understand people whose values and senses of the sacred differ from their own.

Objective B: Evaluate the relevance of theology/religion for personal, communal, societal, and global living.

Students in the primary or secondary major are required to choose a concentration as part of their studies.

Our concentrations correspond with student interests in pursuing theological and religious questions from diverse perspectives, societal and ecclesial expectations for theological and religious literacy, and our departmental goals and objectives. A concentration gives shape and focus to the major and allows students to tailor the program to their specific educational and professional goals. 

Explore the concentrations.

Students who would like to study material not offered in a regular course, design more specialized courses in which they can work individually with a faculty mentor, or seek to become involved in research with faculty members may pursue an Independent Study Course (THL 6400).

Primary and secondary majors may pursue an Independent Study course.

To enhance the academic experience in TRS programs we offer distinctive capstone courses. They differ in significant ways from other courses in that they lead students to reflect on the various components of their major/secondary major curricula and to achieve synthesis in significant culminating experiences.

Capstone Course I: Research Seminar, THL 6300

Students normally take the research seminar in the junior year. The seminar focuses on individual or group research projects that participants design with the help of a faculty facilitator. It emphasizes your active role in the learning process, which implies limited reliance on lectures and extra weight given to you using the methods of THL/RST disciplines to explore fields and topics of interest to you on your own. Rather than repeating others’ work, yours will independently (individually or in groups) wrestle with the unknown, discover knowledge, develop expertise in confined fields of research, and present your research progress and product to your peers.

Capstone Course II: Advanced Seminar, THL 6500

Taken in the senior year the advanced seminar stands as the culminating experience of your studies in the major and secondary major. Using higher-order learning, in the seminar, you consolidate and synthesize knowledge by bringing THL/RST fields together or putting elements of theory and/or practice together in an original form. The seminar is organized around student-lead conversations informed by the central theme studied and advanced in all programs offered by the THL/RST department: Faith seeking understanding, engaging culture. Students wrestle with the relationships between faith, religion, theology, and culture as experienced and studied throughout their undergraduate career at Villanova. With the help of a faculty facilitator, students choose the seminar topics and teach them to their peers, simultaneously learning to organize and facilitate discussions. Thus, the seminar involves students communicating their explorations or discoveries. In other words, this communication includes a final product, and its precise form will vary by topic, encompassing the possibility of artistic expression as well as customary forms of scholarly communication.

COMPARE THE MAJORS

The primary major is the chief program for students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Theology and Religious Studies. The program:

  • requires 30 credit hours, five elective courses, and two major seminars
  • is only available to CLAS students
  • is a standalone degree program
  • may be combined with another major either within or outside of CLAS if a student chooses to pursue a double major
  • requires students to earn a concentration in TRS

The secondary major closely mirrors the requirements for the primary major; it is a good choice for students interested in interdisciplinary, integrative studies who cannot fulfill the course requirements for two majors. The program:

  • requires 24 credit hours, four elective courses, and one major seminar
  • is available to students in any College
  • is not a standalone degree program
  • must be taken in conjunction with another major and completed concurrently with a bachelor’s degree
  • permits students to earn a concentration in TRS
  • emphasizes an area outside a student’s major that complements their studies at Villanova and offers a more rigorous academic experience than the minor.

Both programs maintain the same rigor, coherence, multidisciplinary emphasis, and interdisciplinary allowing you to study theology and religion from broader social science, political, historical, and philosophical perspectives.

The elective course choices in both programs allow flexibility. The programs provide you with the academic and/or practical training for a broad range of careers or prepare you for graduate work.

Mark Graham, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Director, Undergraduate Program
mark.graham@villanova.edu
610-519-4732

Department of Theology and Religious Studies
800 E. Lancaster Ave.
St. Augustine Center Room 203
Villanova, PA 19085

Welcome to the Program