Religious Studies

Religions of the World

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Department Chair
J. Todd Hibbard, Ph.D.

Religious Studies at Detroit Mercy

Religion is a fundamental aspect of the human experience. By studying religion, we develop an understanding of religious and cultural pluralism--important aspects for our global world. Detroit Mercy's Religious Studies Department is rooted in the context of the Jesuit and Mercy traditions and encourages the academic study of religion in a spirit of free intellectual inquiry.

"Religious Studies” is an umbrella designation covering multiple disciplines and various traditions. In terms of religious traditions, Religious Studies generally includes the study of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hindu traditions, Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Shinto and more. In terms of disciplines, literary, historical, philosophical, linguistic, psychological, sociological, anthropological, and theological methods are used. The common element is the study of human activities and ideas influenced by and influencing religious traditions.


Student Testimonials

Angie M
Angie Meril '16

Assistant Editor, History & Sociology, W. W. Norton & Company; New York, NY; Major: Religious Studies | Minor: WGS 

"Religious Studies at Detroit Mercy taught me how to walk more thoughtfully in the world. The ubiquitous presence of religion cross-culturally and globally was enough reason for me to want to pursue a degree in it; however, I came away from the program with much more than just knowledge of religious traditions. Rather, religious studies gave me the critical thinking and writing skills that have informed all aspects of my life. It taught me to question assumptions I had because of my own cultural and religious background and it opened me up to traditions I otherwise would not have been exposed to."

Sarah Lucas
Sarah Lucas '21

Double major: Bachelor of Arts with a major in Religious Studies & Bachelor of Arts with a major in Psychology

"While majoring in religious studies at Detroit Mercy, I learned that religion influences political decisions which of course impact all of us. Whether you are religious or not, studying religion is one of the most adventurous and eye-opening experiences, and I would encourage everyone to study the historical developments of different religions. Thank you to all of my religious studies professors for a rewarding education."

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    Religious Studies Learning Outcomes

    1. Identify sources and purposes of religious ideas and rituals and how differences of interpretation form within and among religions.
    2. Explain the role of religion and spirituality in human life and society, regardless of their personal beliefs.
    3. Demonstrate a critical appreciation for the approach, analysis, and comprehension of religion through the broader perspectives of various disciplines.
    4. Employ one or more academic methods in the study of religion (literary studies, history, philosophy, feminist studies, psychology, sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, or theology) to examine one or more religious traditions in depth.
    5. Outline and critique the issues as identified by scholars who have expertise in the religious tradition(s) as well as the academic method(s).
    6. Generate research based on what has been learned about the religious tradition(s) and the academic method(s).

Undergraduate Programs

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    Major - Religious Studies

    Degree: Bachelor of Arts
    Major: Religious Studies

    Religious Studies is a flexible major, divided into five subject areas:

    • Contemporary Issues in Religion
    • World Religions
    • Biblical Studies
    • Christian Theology and Spirituality
    • Ethics

    Because of the University's roots in the Catholic tradition, there are many courses on Christian themes and developments. Students also receive broad exposure to other traditions such as Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.

    To obtain this undergraduate degree, you must fulfill the requirements of the University core curriculum, the requirements for the 30-credit-hour program major and have completed a minimum of 126 credit hours.*

    * New students enrolled starting fall 2020 will follow a minimum of 120 credit hours.


    Minor - Religious Studies

    Enhance Your University Experience with a Minor in Religious Studies

    Religions are at the core of cultures, and the study of religions is integral to understanding society. A deeper understanding of religious phenomena is a useful complement to any course of study or career path. The minor in Religious Studies consists of 18 credits, some of which are already required as part of the Core Curriculum.

    Given the multi-disciplinary and multicultural nature of Religious Studies, students who minor in Religious Studies enjoy flexibility regarding their course selection. The minor does not consist of one specific set of required courses, and students can easily tailor the minor program to suit their individual interests and to complement their majors.


    Minor - Islamic Studies

    Explore the passions, purposes and ultimate priorities of a living faith and cultural tradition. The Islamic Studies minor offers an approach to the focused study of Islam and Muslims that examines principal beliefs, core values, practices and cultural expressions.

    Courses provide in-depth analyses of key themes employing the five C's for foreign faith learning (communication, cultures, communities, comparisons and connections). The program surveys insider as well as outsider views of Islam, creatively engages students in communications about cross-disciplinary topics, connects Islam with the sciences, identifies commonalities and distinct viewpoints, occasionally compares Islam with other monotheistic as well as monistic traditions and participates in diverse communities that are multi-ethnic, multi-vocal, multi-linguistic and transnational. Courses will examine creative Islam, controversial Islam, classical Islam and contemporary Islam.

Graduate Program

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    Religious Studies

    Degree: Master of Arts
    Major: Religious Studies
    Credits: 30

    Through Detroit Mercy's Master of Arts with a major in religious studies program, you will develop personal insight, intercultural literacy, scholarly research and critical analysis in areas of religious and theological inquiry.

    You will work with a faculty advisor to design a plan of study which best meets your interests in one of four areas: Biblical Studies, Theology and Spirituality, Comparative Religions and Religion and Culture/Ethics.

    Your academic journey will take you through religious texts, provide a historical understanding of religions, see religion shape cultural contexts and spur an individual's search for meaning.


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Simon Hendry, S.J.
Director, Catholic Studies Program

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J. Todd Hibbard
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
* Chair of Religious Studies

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Hsiao-Lan Hu
Professor of Religious Studies
Director of the Women's & Gender Studies Program

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Justin J. Kelly, S.J.
Associate Professor of Religious Studies

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Patrick Kelly, S.J.
Associate Professor of Religious Studies

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Katherine Merriman
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
Director of the Islamic Studies Program

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Jennifer Rike
Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies

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James B Tubbs, Jr.
Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies

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