Harvard’s concentration in the Comparative Study of Religion is a vibrant community comprised of dynamic, devoted students and the nation’s most distinguished teaching faculty in the study of religion. Students interact regularly with faculty and graduate students who share their interests. The program provides students with an understanding of the religious traditions of the world through study of sacred texts and rituals; philosophy, literature and theology; and the lived experiences and history of participants in the tradition. Courses engage life’s biggest questions including the meaning of life and death, humanity and divinity, good and evil, sacrifice and community. Course work exposes students to central concepts in the field such as god(s), ritual, gender, authority, orthodoxy, scripture and prophecy. Anthropological, historical, philosophical, phenomenological, sociological and literary approaches open religion to closer analysis and deeper understanding.
Students consistently rate our concentration and courses very highly. Tutorials are small, tailored to student interests and designed to develop and refine students’ ability to analyze texts closely and to write coherently. Close attention to excellent writing--through drafting, comments and revising--is a priority in our tutorial program.
Concentrators pursue a wide range of careers after graduation, including business, law, medicine, politics, public service, scholarship, creative art and teaching. Recent graduates are studying at Harvard Law School, teaching with Teach for America, pursuing graduate work at Cambridge University, practicing medicine and starring in television roles. Our students consistently report back to us that the understanding of religion, the critical thinking skills, and the refined writing ability they gained in this concentration have been significantly important in making sense of current events and global politics, and in succeeding in their workplaces and local communities. Most of our graduates have a strong interest in service to their communities and are committed to working in their chosen profession to make the world a better place.
The Undergraduate section of this site reflects the information found in the Undergraduate Handbook, which is the standard reference work for requirements, rules, and advising procedures in the Study of Religion and it updated annually. Faculty advisers and tutorial leaders will assume students are familiar with it. Please read its contents carefully.