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The Major

The Major

Our integrated major provides professional development for today’s job market as well as a broad exposure to some of the most important aspects of a humanities education.  The program explicitly teaches a number of marketable skills that employers increasingly seek, including critical thinking, analytical writing, cultural understanding and sensitivity, and intellectual initiative. In addition to this, our program is designed to enrich your sense of purpose and commitment to the values of social justice, care for others, and dignity for all. Our integrated major is thus, in many ways, the best of both worlds.

The word “integrated” in the term “integrated major” indicates a mutually-enriching and critical dialogue between two disciplines (Religious Studies and Philosophy) that are central to the liberal arts at a Catholic institution. In keeping with the tradition of such institutions, faith and reason are taken as valued standpoints from which to approach academic work and community life. Thus, the ordering signifies neither hierarchy nor dependency of one discipline upon the other. Rather, students will grapple with problems, themes and questions from shared and distinctive standpoints.


  • Develop a global understanding of relationships among religious beliefs, reasoned inquiry and human values
  • Analyze and evaluate significant philosophies, religious ideas or discourses in order to systematically and critically articulate one’s own spiritual, intellectual and/or ethical commitments.
  • Explore the distinctiveness of rational inquiry as a unique form of human understanding, motivation and justification
  • Investigate historical, socio-cultural and political dimensions of diverse religious traditions and practices
  • Refine your understanding, interpretations and critical perspectives through writing, speaking and collaborative work


The outcomes for Philosophy and Religious Studies are assessed through oral presentations, examinations, experiential learning and extensive writing. In the final year of study, students will synthesize and utilize their learned skills of cultural understanding, critical thinking and intellectual initiative through critical, independent research, writing and presentation within the Senior Seminar as well as either within the thesis/defense or experiential option.

Major Requirements

The Philosophy and Religious Studies major provides common courses for all majors as well as self-selected courses within one’s chosen concentration of Philosophy or Religious Studies. All majors also complete an interdisciplinary and integrated senior capstone course, then chose one of two options: Option I is an international/intercultural experience followed a public presentation; Option II is writing a senior thesis and providing a public, oral defense of that thesis.

A. Core Courses (21 hours):

PL 111 Introduction to Philosophy or PL 255 Ethics
RS 111 Introduction to Religious Studies or RS 117 World Religions
PL/RS 221 Philosophy of Religion

One of the following:

PL 113 Critical Reasoning
PL 238 Social & Political Philosophy
PL/WS 226 Feminist Philosophy

One of the following:

RS 225 Catholicism
RS 231 Christianity
RS 233 American Religious History
RS 251 Islam
RS 252 Judaism

FL courses:

Minimum of six credits of foreign language courses.

B. Concentration (15 hours):

Majors concentrate in either Philosophy or Religious Studies. For a concentration in either students must take the major core requirements outlined above, along with 15 more credits in either area. Nine credits of the concentration must be at the 300 or 400 level.

C. Senior Capstone course (3 hours):

In this course taken the fall semester prior to graduation, students from both disciplines work through a global theme, analyzing and evaluating issues and problems within that theme from the perspectives and methodologies of both disciplines.

D. Senior International/Intercultural Experience or Thesis and Oral Defense (3 hours):

Option I: Working with one’s major advisor, students who choose the international/intercultural experience may choose one of the following options: a course which has an international and/or intercultural travel component, a service or service-learning opportunity within the Kansas City region or within the broader U.S., or an intercultural practicum or experience designed in conjunction with your major advisor. Within this experiential option, students work with their major advisor to design a public presentation component that draws together their academic studies with this experience.

Option II: Students who choose the thesis/defense option must complete this work in their senior year. Working in conjunction with a faculty member in the discipline of concentration, students will write a 25 to 30 page thesis, utilizing extensive research, critical analysis and argumentation. Two to four weeks before graduation, students will give a public talk, based upon the paper, and answer critical questions from both the thesis committee and the general audience.

A minor in Religious Studies or Philosophy is also available.

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