Because students often come to Amherst without having had much previous experience of the academic study of religion, they come to the major in many different ways -- sometimes in ways that they find unexpected. Often they are struck by an epiphany that this Department focuses on really riveting stuff, and does so in a lively and interdisciplinary way!
For these reasons, there are many pathways through the major, and the Religion major is one of the most flexible majors on campus. Often students take it as a second major, seeing it as a wonderful complement to neighboring fields of history, philosophy, classics, anthropology, etc., or as a complement to a very different major in STEM or the arts.
Ideally, students will take Rel 111, "Introduction to Comparative Religion," and Rel 210, "What is Religion, Anyway?" early in their time at Amherst. After this, they take 3-4 courses in one particular religion (Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or the Religions of India). They will then need to take 1-2 courses in a religion that is not their primary focus.
Another pathway through the major is when students start with courses in their particular tradition of interest. They may do several courses in that tradition and then realize they wish to major in Religion. At this time, we urge that they take the two required courses as soon as possible while continuing in the area of their particular interest, and while they take 1-2 courses in another tradition.
Students should speak with their advisors about study away opportunities that can enhance their particular fields of interest. The Department accepts up to two courses in programs off-campus toward the major, subject, on a case-by-case basis, to approval by the faculty.