The Religious Studies undergraduate major at University of California, Berkeley asks its students to secure a broad background in the liberal arts and also to focus on a thematic concern or a particular religious tradition. It views religion from a global perspective and combines aspects of the humanities and the social sciences. The major is open to anyone interested in studying religion and related phenomena academically; it is not directed especially to those who have a religious background or think of pursuing a religious vocation. Majors will be challenged to regard religious traditions as both means and objects of intellectual inquiry and to regard their claims both appreciatively and critically.
The core Religious Studies courses present methodological questions in and approaches to the study of religion (such as philosophy of religion, sociology of religion, history, interpretation), examine thematic, often cross-cultural phenomena (such as ritual, prayer and mysticism, and comparative ethics), or present issues within a particular religious tradition. Other courses available for the major originate in other disciplines on campus: for instance, history, anthropology, sociology, and language and literature departments. The traditions that may be included as fields of emphasis or supplementary courses include the Jewish, Islamic, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist traditions, as well as the religious cultures of China, Japan, Africa, and the Americas.