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Columbia University Course/Program Name
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National :01 Jan 
International :01 Jan 

BA Religion

 Course Level
Bachelors / UG
Full Time

3 Years
 Start month

 Tuition fee

46040 USD
46040 USD

Application fee

International 75 USD
National 75 USD
Department of Religion
Scores accepted
IELTS (min)7
TOEFL-IBT (min)100
TOEFL-PBT (min)600

World University Ranking

About this course

As the twenty-first century unfolds, religion plays a central role in virtually every aspect of human society around the globe. The Religion department's curriculum offers students the opportunity to explore the histories, texts, and practices of many of the world's religious communities and to consider both the profound ways in which religion has worked historically and how it continues to inform and affect the cultural, political, and ethical debates of the current moment. In addition, our classes invite students to reflect on the vexing theoretical questions that are generated by the category "religion" itself, an abstract category that has its own complicated history. The academic study of religion is self-consciously interdisciplinary, drawing upon the methods and insights of literary studies, historiography, social analysis, and cultural comparison. Moreover, the study of religion reminds us that religious identities demand sustained critical analysis, intersecting complexly as they do with race, class, gender, and ethnicity, among other categories of affiliation and identification. In its teaching, research projects, and public programming, the Religion department promotes engaged intellectual inquiry into the rich diversity of religious institutions, rituals, ideas, and communities both past and present.

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Eligibility Criteria

To be well-prepared for a college like Barnard, it is important to think about the academic community you are hoping to join. Barnard's general education requirements cover a wide range of subjects: literature, the social sciences, language and the arts, lab sciences, and quantitative areas. For this reason, you should acquire a strong foundation in high school, taking courses from the core academic subjects: math, science, English, history, and foreign language. Do your best to take the most rigorous classes available to you in which you can do your best work. For transfer students, our recommendations are similar. Take courses that are recommended to fulfill general requirements in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. If an area is a relative weakness, continue taking that subject while pursuing advanced coursework in areas of relative strength. Remember, we hope to see how you might contribute to our intellectual community, and your choices tell us what kind of a student you will be.

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Course Modules

Requirements for the Major

The department's strengths in comparative study, textual and social analysis, philosophy, theory, and cultural history allow students to balance close study in one area with a broad investigation of the field we name "religion." Working closely with an advisor in the department, majors construct a cluster of five courses that relate to one another in a coherent fashion (#1, below) and support the senior thesis. To complement this depth, they select three courses that lend breadth to their studies in religion (#2). Students considering Religion as a major should contact the chair or a member of the department in their sophomore year to begin planning their programs.

The Religion major requires twelve courses, as follows:

1) Major cluster: five courses, including one seminar. As many as two of these courses may come from other departments, and individually supervised research (V 3901-2: Guided Readings) may also be included. This cluster of courses may be organized around a particular tradition or geographic area: Hinduism, Islam, Religion in America, etc. Alternatively, students may design clusters that focus on a set of related subjects and concerns, such as: Religion in New York; Religion in theory and practice; Religion and culture; Religious texts and histories; Religion and migration; Religion, women, gender; and Religion, race, nation, ethnicity.

Yet these are only exemplary. Students are urged to design their own clusters, supplementing departmental listings with religion-related courses posted on the Barnard Religion Department's website as Religion Related Courses. Courses taken outside of the religion department must be approved by the student's advisor or department chair.

2) Breadth: three Religion courses - either lecture or seminar - that lend geographical, historical, and/or disciplinary range to a student's program.

3) One semester of the course entitled “Religion Lab” (Religion W4905), which focuses on methods, strategies, and materials utilized in the field of religious studies.  Through guided exercises and selected exemplary readings, students learn research skills for locating and identifying primary and secondary sources.  They are also exposed to important scholarly frameworks necessary for properly analyzing these sources.  Majors are encouraged to take this course by their junior year as it serves to prepare them for their senior thesis.

4) One semester of the course entitled “Theory” (V3798, V3799), engaging major theoretical issues in the field.

5) The two-semester Senior Research Seminar (BC 3997-8), which must be taken in sequence, beginning in autumn and continuing through the spring, and which structures the experience of preparing a senior thesis. Students work together in this seminar to develop, critique, and accomplish their research projects, submitting a formal proposal and partial draft in the fall, and completing the research and writing in the spring.

Language Courses: Students may fulfill up to two of their required twelve courses through language study pending department approval.  If a language is considered vital or important to a student’s major concentration, she may petition for credit with 1 year (two semesters) of courses counting as one course towards the religion major.

To summarize:

5 courses – Concentration
3 courses – Breadth
1 course –Religion Lab
1 course –Theory
2 courses – Senior Seminar

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How to Apply

Submit all supporting materials

  • Request that all official high school and college transcripts be sent to Barnard College along with your high school's profile. Your guidance counselor will also need to submit the School Report.
  • Submit official standardized testing. For more information, please view
  • Submit Teacher Evaluation forms. We require letters from two teachers that taught you in core academic subjects (English, foreign language, history [social science], mathematics, or science) in your final two years of secondary school.
  • Your counselor will submit the mid-year report with your first semester senior grades by March 1st via the common application.
  • Submit TOEFL or IELTS (if applicable). In addition to SAT/ACT requirements, TOEFL/IELTS scores are required for students whose primary language is not English and who have not been enrolled in a school where English is the primary medium of instruction for four consecutive years

Optional Supplemental Materials

  • Students may choose to complete an on-campus or off-campus interview. For information on how and when to schedule an interview, please visit our admissions interview page. 
  • Students may choose to submit supplementary portfolios (art—including film, photo, drawing, painting, sculpture—music, dance, theatre, or creative writing) for review via Slideroom. 
    Please note: Supplementary material will not be reviewed by Barnard faculty, and unfortunately, during high volume periods, we cannot guarantee it will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee. 

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