Jennifer Schultz, Old Main 130C

The Religion Department of St. Olaf College seeks to enliven and deepen academic reflection on religion and theology in a liberal arts setting.  We equip students of all backgrounds and traditions to interpret, evaluate, and respond to religious ideas and practices.

Our work is shaped by the college's Lutheran heritage and commitments as these unfold in a world of many faiths. In teaching and scholarship, we take up the college's founding conviction that scholarly study of religion is basic to liberal arts learning. Through OLE Core curriculum courses and the religion major, we advance the college's goal of cultivating theological literacy.  At the center of this work is scholarly study of the Bible and of Christian theology, understood as reasoned reflection on the meaning and truth of Christian faith.  We also study Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, and Buddhist traditions, and regard the opportunities afforded by comparative study and religious dialogue as essential to our common goals of understanding religion and theology.  Members of the department work with many religious traditions and areas of specialization, and all contribute to the college's OLE Core requirements in religion.

Overview of the Major

Since the study of religion involves the use of a variety of methodologies and intersects with many other fields of study, students often find that a major in religion helps them integrate their work in other disciplines and develop a focus for their whole liberal arts education. Many students also choose to major in religion as a preparation for seminary or graduate work in religion.


See Academic Honors

Religion majors may graduate with distinction if their grade point average is 3.5 in religion, and they submit a research project that meets the approval of a departmental review committee. The Junia Prize is usually awarded annually to the best distinction project of the year.

Special Programs

The Religion Department participates in Language Across the Curriculum Program, which offers students the opportunity to use their world language skills in selected courses. Each year the department offers January term courses abroad, some carrying the OLE Core attribute Religion, Faith and Values.

Recommendations for Graduate Study

The religion major offers excellent preparation in breadth and depth of study for graduate programs. We encourage students to take additional level III courses, religion seminars, independent studies, and to develop competence in a world language. Distinction in religion is also recommended. Students should consult with their academic advisor and the religion department chair on specific programs and interests.