Monumental sculpture of Christ overlooking Rio de Janeiro

The Department of Comparative Religion equips students to understand how religions impact individuals and societies. In virtually all cultures, throughout recorded history and into the present, religion has been a powerful dimension of social, political, and economic life. It has also had enormous impact on literature, the arts, and human thought.

Why does Miami have a religion department?

Many organizations—including government agencies, community organizations, and corporations—need professionals who understand how religious traditions shape people’s values and behavior. By incorporating the study of religion to your career preparation, you gain an added dimension of marketable expertise. You become more skilled at engaging with religious and cultural diversity, and more prepared to recognize and analyze religious issues that relate to your work.

Typically, Miami students who study religion do so as one component of a broader plan of study. You might take a course from our department to satisfy a requirement in the Global Miami Plan or the Farmer School of Business. You might complete a 3-course Thematic Sequence in religion. Or you might complete the religion minor or major alongside another major. 

What is comparative religion?

"Comparative religion" is one name for the field of scholarship within the arts and sciences that specializes in understanding religion; this field is also known as "religious studies." In this field, we analyze religions as social phenomena, using theories and methods common to other academic disciplines, such as history, anthropology, sociology, or literary and cultural studies. 

Comparative religion is different from theology. Theology refers to intellectual traditions that develop within religions as members reflect on their own doctrines. To be trained in theology, you would attend a religious institution such as a seminary. Because Miami University is a state school, it does not have a program in theology.