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Religious Studies Certificate, C.P.C.

About This Degree

Program Number


Estimated Program Length

1 Year


Vincennes Campus

This program provides the student with a broad initial background in the area of religious studies, especially in those areas largely unfamiliar in make-up to the average American student. The program will introduce the student to the basic elements of religions in a comparative fashion so that students will gain an understanding of the differences between their own religious tradition and the other major religious traditions of the East and West.

What is religious studies? 

Religious Studies is a multi-disciplinary field that describes, compares, interprets, and explains religion from historical and cross-cultural perspectives. Courses in religious studies address the sources of religious inspiration and controversy as well as the complex interactions between religious faith and culture. 

What can one do with a degree in religious studies?

Many students continue studying religion at four-year institutions or branch into other areas of cultural studies. A degree or certificate in religious studies provides opportunities for cross-disciplinary study with other academic fields, such as:

  • Ministry                                    
  • Theology                                               
  • Sociology
  • History
  • International Studies
  • Political Science
  • World Mythologies
  • Anthropology

Why take a course in philosophy or religion?  

The Philosophy and Religious Studies Department at Vincennes University prepares students for transferring into Baccalaureate programs in the liberal arts as well as into law, journalism, and theology programs.  Philosophy provides an excellent background in the humanities as well as training in critical thinking, intellectual creativity, and self-examination. Through religious studies concentration, students will acquire a broader view of world cultures and the role of religion in human history. But that’s not the only reason.

In addition to several practical intellectual skills cultivated through the study of philosophy and religious studies courses, our program is mind-expanding and fun.  Our classes are small and friendly, not stuffy or pedantic, and they are oriented to having intelligent dialogue rather than listening to an instructor's monologue. We give students time and space to ask the big questions in life:

  • How did we get here? Where are we going? What may I hope?
  • How should I live? Does life have a single grand or cosmic purpose?  
  • Are there distinctive religious experiences that can transform a person's life or character? 
  • Why is there evil in the world if it was created by an all-loving, all-powerful deity?  
  • What roles have religious faith played in American society?
  • Are faith and knowledge internally related? What sort of religious faith is compatible with reason? 
  • Does God exist? Is there a supernatural world that we can know about or understand?
  • How do people in other religious cultures think about ultimate reality?
  • Is there any way to know whether or not some religious belief is true or false, right or wrong?
  • Is tradition always right? When should we relinquish certain beliefs or ideas if they don't work? 

These questions cannot be answered in a science lab or in a shopping mall, yet they are examples of necessary questions that have been asked by people since the beginning of human society. These questions have to do with meaning and value and the way we justify our lives and choices to ourselves and to others.  How we answer such questions shapes the way in which we live together in society.  The discipline of philosophy and religious studies addresses these questions-and-answers through sustained, critical thinking, using the tools of reason, logic, and continuous dialogue.

Course Offerings:

Our program offers an Associate of Arts in Philosophy, Philosophy/Religious Studies Concentration, and a Religious Studies Certificate.  Here are the courses required for the two-year degree in religious studies:

  • PHIL 111 - Introduction to Philosophy 
  • PHIL 220 - Philosophy of Religion 
  • RLST 130 - Jesus and Early Christianity
  • RLST 201 - Major Religions of the West 
  • RLST 202 - Major Religions of the East 
  • RLST 205 - American Religious Culture
  • LITR 210 - Literature of the Old Testament
  • LITR 211 - Literature of the New Testament

Here are the course requirements for the 18 credit hour Religious Studies Certificate:

  • ENGL 101 - English Composition I
  • HIST 235 - World Civilization I 
  • LITR 210 - Literature of the Old Testament -or- LITR 211 - Literature of the New Testament -or- HUMN 245 - Cultural Diversity: Humanities 
  • PHIL 220 - Philosophy of Religion 
  • RLST 201 - Major Religions of the West 
  • RLST 202 - Major Religions of the East  

How religiously literate are you right now?  Take the PEW Research Center's “religious literacy quiz” to find out, and then consider how much more you would know if you took a course in religion.