Religion unlocks insight to humanity.

As educators, we believe that an understanding of religion as a concept and practice allows us to better understand humanity. This is the foundation for connecting with people, understanding people and accepting people, especially those with different views, beliefs and experiences from our own. In keeping with the Mercy tradition, we are committed to fostering awareness of regional, national and global issues of justice that emerge within religious contexts and society. With our twenty-first century curriculum, we aim to develop and hone skills in communication, argumentation, research, social justice, cultural awareness, creativity, problem solving and critical thinking.

B.A. in Religious Studies

The academic study of religion is a central component to the humanities curriculum of Mercyhurst University. Through diverse course offerings, the Religious Studies department cultivates understanding of the human experience. It provides students with a breadth of knowledge within the field and essential skills for full participation in a globalized world. Students will cultivate reflective and critical thinking skills through the study of religion’s broad impact on human life and society. 

A Religious Studies major requires a minimum of 10 courses, including two courses in each of the following areas: Tradition, Texts, and History; Pluralism, Comparison, and Society; and Theology, Philosophy, and Ethics.

Fast Facts

  • Religious Studies majors often double major in another discipline, which allows them to achieve a well-rounded education that opens doors to multiple career options upon graduation

  • Due to its humanizing nature, Religious Studies is an excellent complement to other majors and is encouraged for students who want to pursue work in intelligence or medical fields
  • Our graduates have pursued advanced degrees at institutions such as Yale University, the University of Chicago and Emory University
  • Mercyhurst’s Religious Studies department is the only one among the four universities in Erie County staffed by full-time Ph.D.-holding faculty

  • While Mercyhurst's roots are founded in Catholicism, we also welcome and affirm a spirit of universal Christian and interfaith openness

Learning Outcomes

  • Develop skills of the discipline such as: 
    • Analyze and synthesize information from primary and secondary sources.
    • Compose scholarship with respect to the academic study of religion.
    • Critique scholarship with respect to the academic study of religion.
  • Recognize multiplicity within religious traditions. 
  • Compare and contrast religious traditions.
  • Apply ideological paradigms.


We stand by the assumption that religion goes hand-in-hand with community service and volunteer work, which is why we emphasize to our students the importance of their involvement in the local community.


We stress the importance of developing critical writing skills in the field by requiring essays, papers, and critiques and providing additional opportunities for revisions and consultation with faculty.


Graduates have gone on to work in ministry and service organization, the arts, health professions, social work, business and intelligence positions, as well as pursue advanced degrees at esteemed institutions.


Course Catalog

Contact Us

Robert von Thaden, Ph.D.
Chair, Department of Religious Studies
Office: Preston 209
Phone: 814-824-2184