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 immersive curriculum, we aim to develop and hone skills in communication, argumentation, research, social justice, cultural awareness, creativity, problem solving and critical thinking.

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

  • Apply different methodological approaches to the academic study of religion
  • Identify and explain origins, developments, and diversity within different religious communities with respect to rituals, practices, theologies, or texts
  • Analyze and synthesize information from primary and secondary sources
  • Compare and contrast multiple religious traditions with respect to rituals, practices, theologies, or texts
  • Explain, critique, and apply different ethical paradigms
  • Evaluate the interface between religion and society
  • Compose and critique scholarship with respect to the academic study of religion


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.

Contact Us

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