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Theology & Religious Studies Bachelor of Arts Degree

When you study the world’s religions, you will make an impact in more than just the classroom, the church, the mosque, the synagogue, or the temple. As a student in the TRS program, you'll gain the tools to understand and effectively respond to the religious forces that shape contemporary businesses, 

TRS alumni have gone on to careers such as education, health and welfare ministries, social services, and business. Others elect to pursue graduate studies in law, medicine, sociology, philosophy, political science — even theology or religious studies!

Major Highlights

TRS majors typically seek a strong general background in theology and religious studies as their primary or secondary field of expertise. The major program comprises 36 credit hours of coursework across key sub-fields in the discipline.

36 credit hours

  • 2 courses, each category
    • History of Christianity/Sociology of Religions
    • Religious Ethics
    • Scripture
    • Systematic Theology
    • World Religions
      • Judaism
      • Islam
      • Asian Religions
      • Interreligious Studies
    • 1 elective
    • Senior Seminar

Courses in Core may be used to meet 200- and 300-level requirements.

Although not required, majors are strongly encouraged to participate in the Humanities Professional Development program, to pursue an internship, and to study abroad.

Theta Alpha Kappa is the national honor society for religious studies and theology. Founded in 1976 at Manhattan College, to recognize academic achievement, the JCU chapter was chartered in 2015. Juniors or seniors with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5 are eligible for induction.

Program Highlights

Rodman Hall across a grassy field with large tall trees and bushes blooming with vibrant white flowers.

Why Study TRS?

Every walk of life brings us into contact with people who have a wide variety of religious perspectives, from devout advocates of one religion or another to "nones" and seekers. Academic study of theology and religion gives JCU students the language and categories to communicate across religious and cultural divides. Inter-religious engagement comes alive in the TRS classroom as students probe contested questions of human life and develop an adult understanding of their own and others' faith.

While having an internship is not a requirement of the TRS program, many of our students complete at least one internship during their four years at John Carroll. Student interns work at local churches, schools, and other not-for-profit organizations. Many students get job offers as a result of their internship work. We’ll work with you to customize an internship experience to meet your goals.

The religious communities in the Cleveland area are diverse and strong. You can build relationships with the people in the community, discover their needs, and then find ways to meet those needs through service and other activities. Through service-learning courses, you are able to connect this service back to your classroom learning, integrating real-life situations into your discussions.

We encourage our students to explore and learn from the world through one of JCU’s many study abroad programs. In addition to our occasional study tours, TRS students have studied in Ireland, Spain, and Rome, as well as less typical venues like the Semester-at-Sea program.

A TRS B.A. degree may fulfill the requirements for initial certification of elementary and high school teachers of religion in the Diocese of Cleveland. For details, visit the Office of Formation & Education website.

picture of a mosque in Morocco

Student Learning Outcomes

The successful TRS M.A. graduate can demonstrate the following TRS program Student Learning Outcomes at a graduate-level competency:

1. Student uses pertinent, appropriately documented, primary and secondary sources to demonstrate sophisticated critical engagement with a religious expression in its context and from an explicit, well-defined disciplinary perspective; takes into account diverse contexts, alternative explanations, assumptions, and implications, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of those interpretations.

2. Student uses pertinent, appropriately documented, primary and secondary sources to adeptly and insightfully analyze an ethical question or injustice in light of diverse religious resources or ethical theories; identifies strengths and possible critiques of the various resources or theories; and articulates own response, including an explanation of the assumptions behind, objections to, and implications of this position.