College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Philosophy and Religion

Why study religion at Butler University?


The reasons why people choose to study religion at university are incredibly diverse -as diverse, perhaps, as the phenomenon of religion itself. For some, the study of religion is a way of exploring their own commitment to a particular religious tradition, whether or not it is a central focus of their desired career path. For others, it is a way of trying to understand the religious traditions and perspectives of others.  Institutions grounded in the liberal arts, like Butler, expose students to a broad spectrum of subjects - literature, history, philosophy, ethics, the creative arts, and much more - with the aim of producing broadly-educated, sophisticated, and flexible leaders.  And it is in part because religion intersects with and informs so many of these other topics that a degree in religion can lead naturally to any number of career paths.  Moreover, because it is a field rather than a discipline, studying Religion exposes students to diverse methodological approaches and tools, including those from linguistics, literature, history, archaeology, anthropology, psychology, and sociology.

There are countless good reasons to study religion - but why study religion at Butler University? Here too there are many reasons. Butler University is located on an urban campus in Indianapolis in the heart of the American Midwest, in a city that is not only closely linked to the American mainstream, but that is also delightfully diverse. Within a few blocks of the campus are the churches of various Christian denominations, several Jewish synagogues, two Muslim mosques, a Baha'i meeting place, and a Buddhist meditation center.  Two Hindu temples and the headquarters of the Islamic Society of North America are located just a bit farther away. Our location therefore allows us to explore both traditional and emerging American religious phenomena, and the ways in which these are increasingly intertwined with and inseparable from global religious trends. At Butler you get the benefit of small class sizes and individual attention, combined with an urban setting providing easy access to a range of useful  cultural experiences.

Besides working closely with students in the classroom, the religion faculty offer close mentoring to help students envision, plan and prepare for the work they wish to do after Butler.  Faculty in the department work closely with Butler University's Center for Faith and Vocation, a university resource designed to help students plan for a life of purpose and contribution to society, to help students get practical experience relevant to their career goals by arranging internships, service opportunities and other ways of acquiring the skills they will need in the world of work or study after Butler.   

The religion program's faculty are not merely educators and mentors, but are also active in research - publishing books, winning prizes, and securing grants. As a religion major at Butler University, you will receive the opportunity to work closely with faculty through independent studies and research assistantships.  Butler also offers opportunities to present the results of student research to a wider audience, such as through the Undergraduate Research Conference which Butler University hosts each year, and which is attended by students from many different schools. The religion courses Butler offers will also take you outside of the classroom - not only to visit religious communities around the city, but also to explore the web, cultivating skills in identifying reliable sources of information online.  You will even learn to contribute to the information available online, making your own mark through a blog or by improving or revising already-existing sources such as Wikipedia.

Religion majors at Butler also benefit from the Mabel Campbell Religious Studies fund, which supports scholarships for incoming Religion majors and provides Religion majors and minors ongoing support for travel involved in conducting and presenting their research outside of town (and outside of the country). In addition, the Ernest Thompson Endowed Fund in Religious Studies supports annual awards to outstanding Religion majors and helps the department host visiting speakers for in-class and public lectures.


The religion program at Butler University grounds its students in the classically broad tradition of the Liberal Arts, while at the same time providing them with the skills that are most crucial in the digital age.  The program offers you the best of both worlds, so to speak, and it is this combination of the sound and the savvy that prepares Butler's graduating religion majors to discover, enter, and succeed in their careers.  What you can do with a degree in religion from Butler University is limited only by your imagination.  Recent graduates of the program have used their training to study religion, law, public policy, medicine, creative writing, and other subjects at the graduate level. Others have entered the non-profit sector or religious ministries; still others have found employment in a range of professions - teaching, acting, politics, and many others.


Ready to learn more? Contact the department administrative specialist, any of our faculty, and/or Admissions at Butler University, to request more information or speak to someone and get answers to specific questions.