Why major in Religious Studies?

As a Religious Studies major at UPIKE, you’ll focus on understanding the Bible and religious diversity. Religious studies are a way of organizing the oldest and deepest human concerns about the meaning of life. At UPIKE, you’ll dive deeper into Christian religious heritage and study other religious traditions as well. UPIKE’s courses in world religions will introduce you to ways of understanding beyond the Western tradition, while courses in Biblical studies will help you explore the historical background and contemporary meaning of the Bible. Courses in ethics, spirituality, and religion and popular culture will engage you in contemporary issues, including the impact of religion on everyday life.

Student speaking during a group discussion.

Program Distinctives

UPIKE faculty may lecture from time to time, but you’ll usually be engaged in active learning by:

Discussing contemporary issues
Researching topics of your interest
Participating in service projects and mission trips
Dialoguing with people of many faiths
Engaging in spirituality that works for wholeness
Participating in experiential learning trips to religious sites and conferences

religion professor james browning talking to students

Interesting Courses

REL 430 Spirituality in World Religions
Explore the spiritual practices of the world religions such as meditation, yoga and the Enneagram.

REL 383 Religion and Science
Discuss the ways in which religion and science interface through dialogue, discussion, and exploration of a variety of perspectives.

REL 387 Religion and Popular Culture
Explore the ways in which religion and popular culture affect, maintain, change and create one another. The course critically engages contemporary world issues such as hashtag activism, war and religious conflict, changing religious demographics, climate change, immigration, consumerism and human rights. These issues are explored via music, television, literature, social media and art.

Student listening to another student during a group discussion.

Student Learning Outcomes

After earning a degree in Religious Studies from UPIKE, you’ll be able to analyze literature from a variety of perspectives, formulate and present oral and written arguments, and respect opposing points of view.

Career paths in Religious Studies

Christian Educator

Where Recent Graduates have gone to work or study

Big Sandy Community Technical College Instructor
Pastor, Elkhorn City Church
Northern Kentucky University, Salmon P. Chase College of Law
Pickens Presbyterian Church
Pikeville Medical Center
University of Pikeville
Vanderbilt University Divinity School


“When I began my studies at UPIKE, I was unsure of what I wanted to major in. As an “undecided” student, I was told I needed to complete two religion courses. I fell in love with the subject matter and declared my major as Religious Studies right away. I loved how many of the classes contained elements of other subjects I was passionate about like history, philosophy, anthropology and theology. As someone who grew up in the Christian tradition, something I’ll forever be grateful for that I received from the Religious Studies program at UPIKE is the knowledge of other religions and the importance of interfaith dialogue. I’ll never forget the value of interfaith panels, guest lectures from Sikhs in the community and opportunities to visit the local Mosque. In my own life, this has taught me the invaluable skill of ‘holy envy’ – being able to look at the different religious traditions of my neighbors and friends with generosity, curiosity and appreciation while seeking to see the good in them. I now feel a real connection to that group of Presbyterian ministers who founded the university in 1889 and share their thought that education is a vehicle of reforming the church and that the more we know about the world, the more we can know about God.”



James Browning

Professor of Religion
(606) 218-5026