What can religion teach you about the meaning of life? About justice? About being a moral person? About your own purpose?
Dive into the deep questions with a major in Religious and Theological Studies. Through courses like Introduction to the Religions of the World, History of Christian Theology, and biblical studies, you’ll learn how to think about religions — your own, if you have one, and others’. Study the development of global religions throughout history and to the present day. Gain an understanding of how religion influences culture, conflicts and current events around the world.
What do our graduates do?
Religious and Theological Studies majors go on to a variety of careers and graduate schools from St. Edward’s. Here’s a sample.
- Vice president of operations for Adore Ministries
- Literacy tutor for AmeriCorps
- Director of the Beecken Center, at the School of Theology, Sewanee
- Ambassador for poverty relief at Noonday Collection
- Teaching fellows with the Alliance for Catholic Education through the University of Notre Dame
- Year-long volunteer with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps
- Peace Corps volunteers
- Recipient of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship
- Graduate students at the University of Notre Dame, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, Harvard Divinity School, Princeton Theological Seminary and Yale Divinity School
Explore your options — classes, internships, research and study abroad. Find what interests you, discover what you love, and create a major experience that jumpstarts your future.
Alumni of our program attend graduate studies in religious studies and theology at the University of Notre Dame, Harvard Divinity School, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, Yale University, Duke Divinty School, Catholic Theological Union, Drew University, Fordham University, Union Theological Seminary and New York University and flourish in the fields of higher education and ministry.
At the same time, our alumni also go on to Georgetown Law School, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the University of Houston Law Center, Museum Studies at the University of Washington, Agricultural and Applied Economics at Texas Tech, and Social Work at New York University.
For more information on the Religious and Theological Studies major, please contact Professor of Humanities Richard Bautch. The Religious and Theological Studies major is part of the Department of Religious and Theological Studies.
A New Bible Captivates Campus
A 21st-century illuminated Bible makes its sojourn to St. Edward’s this year.
The Classroom and Beyond
As a Religious and Theological Studies major, you’ll have the chance to apply your education on and off campus. Austin’s religious community is diverse and offers many opportunities to participate in interfaith dialogue, volunteer or intern at faith-based service organizations, or work at the intersection of religion and politics.
Introduction to Christian Morality focuses on the Beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, in the Gospel of Matthew, and Catholic social teaching. As a complement to what you learn in class, you’ll participate in volunteer opportunities through Campus Ministry’s S.E.R.V.E. program.
In Introduction to Religions and Asian Traditions, you’ll accompany your professor on visits to the Austin Hindu Temple and the Tibetan Buddhist Palri Pema Od Ling temple for a guided meditation with a Tibetan lama.
SEU to You
The study of the Hebrew Bible isn’t all chaos monsters, fallen angels, blood taboos, peasants’ revolts, vanquished kings, messiahs, ecstatic prophecy and apocalypse. In Professor of Religious and Theological Studies Kelley Coblentz Bautch’s RELS 2321 course, students also take up key questions that speak to pressing issues of today.
Campus Ministry offers opportunities to deepen your spirituality and your understanding of others’ faiths – whether or not you’re Catholic. Go on a retreat to develop mindfulness (and relationships with fellow students on retreat), attend an interfaith program, or join a Bible study.
Campus Ministry also coordinates several of St. Edward’s signature service programs:
- S.E.R.V.E Austin is a weekly, semester-long volunteer commitment at a specific site where you’ll develop relationships with immigrants and refugees, children at an after-school program, young adults working on their GED, the elderly or the formerly homeless.
- S.E.R.V.E. 1 Day events are Saturday-morning programs that include breakfast, transportation to the site, lunch and a reflection. These one-day projects often involve physical labor, like cleaning up a park, removing invasive species or painting a school.
- Service Break Experiences give you the chance to travel to another community, volunteer and learn about local life. SBEs are built on ongoing relationships between St. Edward’s and the service location and require students to prepare — educationally and spiritually — for several months beforehand. The trips incorporate structured reflections so you’ll integrate what you’ve learned and use it to fuel your charity and justice work going forward. A hallmark of SBEs is their emphasis on living simply — you’ll leave your phone and other luxuries behind.
St. Edward’s hosts two lecture series that are of particular interest to Religious and Theological Studies majors. The Most Reverend John McCarthy Lecture Series on the Catholic Church in the 21st Century is named in honor of a former Diocese of Austin bishop and features religious and lay experts from around the country discussing issues facing modern and contemporary Catholicism. The Nostra Aetate Lecture explores the interreligious values reflected in the groundbreaking Vatican II (1965) document of the same name.
The Red Bench is a dialogue program centered on moderated small group discussions designed to be respectful, safe, and engaging. No one is expected to be an expert on the topics, but all are invited to share from their personal experiences and listen with their hearts. Campus Ministry partners with iACT (Interfaith Action of Central Campus) to bring this program to campus.
The Religious and Theological Studies major prepares you for professional opportunities including in the nonprofit, media, healthcare and arts sectors, and any career that pertains to religion. In recent semesters, our students have interned at locations including these:
- Interfaith Action of Central Texas
- Catholic Charities of Central Texas
- Travis County Correctional Complex
- The Office of Worship for the Diocese of Austin
- St. Michael's Catholic Academy
- Adore Ministries
- The Institute for Diversity and Civic Life
Major Requirements: The Bachelor of Arts in Religious and Theological Studies requires 34 hours of major courses. Core courses provide a solid foundation and are complemented by courses in particular areas of interest; for example, world religions, systematic theology, biblical studies, or other areas within the discipline.
Electives: Students complete 6 hours of elective courses in a Religious Studies.
View and download the full degree plan for our Religious and Theological Studies major (PDF).
A few examples of courses students in this major take:
- Introduction to Christian Morality – This course will investigate the foundations of Christian morality contained within Scripture, natural law, church tradition and various theological systems.
- Introduction to Religions of the World – This course examines the historical development of the five major religious traditions of the world: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
- History of Christian Theology I – This course introduces students to the development of Christian theology from the end of the first through the fifth century.
What do the Torah, the Prophets, Latin America and the Yiddish Renaissance have in common? All these topics come up in the classrooms of Prof. Richard Bautch, author of several monographs and edited volumes (included Covenant in the Persian Period: From Genesis to Chronicles), editor of the Catholic Biblical Monograph Series, and chair of the Persian Period program unit within the International Society of Biblical Literature. Professor Bautch encourages his students to apply insights from the past to today's significant social questions.
– Richard Bautch, Professor, Chair, and Associate Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities
Founding Director for the Center of Religion and Culture, Fr. Brusatti's expertise includes pastoral ministry, spirituality, world religions, and ethics. Students appreciate Fr. Brusatti's courses on Vatican 2, his leading study programs to Thailand and Malaysia and his mentoring them in their internships and academic and life journeys. Fr. Brusatti has received multiple grants from the Council of Independent Colleges, and serves on the Mission and Ethics Committee for the Seton Family of Hospitals, Seton Cove Board and St. Michael’s Catholic Academy Board.
– Louis Brusatti, Associate Professor of Religious and Theological Studies
In addition to teaching courses on early Judaism and Christianity, Prof. Coblentz Bautch can be found exploring through her research angels, demons and apocalyptic literature. As president of a national honor society, author, and member of editorial boards, Prof. CB enjoys helping her students reach for the stars through the pursuit of their own academic goals.
– Kelley Coblentz Bautch, Professor of Religious and Theological Studies
For Dr. Heaps, the tougher the questions, the better. He’s written articles asking whether forgiveness and justice can coexist and how our bodies are involved in our thinking. In the classroom, he aims to get at the hard questions too: Can we recognize what is true or good? Who do we give authority to and why? What, if anything, is God up to in the world? In both his research and the classroom, Dr. Heaps relies primarily on the Catholic intellectual tradition, especially 20th century Roman Catholic philosophy and systematic theology. He also loves good coffee. Come to office hours and he’ll brew you a cup.
– Jonathan Heaps, Visiting Instructor of Religious and Theological Studies
Researching in global contexts such as Denmark, Norway, Israel, and Palestine, the Rev. Dr. Veninga spends her time thinking about how religion and theology relate to contemporary issues of justice, violence, and peace. The author of Secularism, Theology and Islam: The Danish Social Imaginary and the Cartoon Crisis of 2005-2006, her current project focuses on collective trauma, memory, and the theology of witness. Dr. Veninga also enjoys writing about Danish theologian Søren Kierkegaard and how his existentialist thought might inform these challenging issues.
– Jennifer Veninga, Associate Professor of Religious and Theological Studies
About the Minor
Students who wish to earn a Religious and Theological Studies minor must take the following coursework, totaling 19 hours.
- Methods in Religious Studies
Choose one of the three following courses:
- Intro to Religions of the World
- Basic Christian Questions
- Intro to Catholicism
Choose one of the two following courses:
- Intro to the Hebrew Bible
- Intro to the New Testament
Choose one of the two following courses:
- History of Christian Theology I
- History of Christian Theology II
Students must take one 2000-level course and two 3000-level courses.
Are you a current student? Contact your advisor for next steps on declaring your major or minor.