Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy & Religious Studies

The Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies offers two programs of study that lead to a B. A. in Philosophy & Religious Studies. Students may emphasize either a Philosophy Track or a Religious Studies Track. The department also offers minors in Philosophy, Religious Studies, and Professional and Applied Ethics.

B.A. in Philosophy & Religious Studies - Dual Track

Students with the dual tracks of Philosophy and Religious Studies challenges students to think critically and express themselves effectively.  Students will develop an appreciation for lifelong learning and the richness of culture and intellectual history.  On either track, students will find a solid foundation to build a career in professions that demand critical thinking and conceptual flexibility in interacting with diverse populations.

B.A. in Philosophy & Religious Studies - Philosophy Track

Students who take the Philosophy Track will study a broad spectrum of ideas, thinkers, issues and arguments.  The Philosophy Track addresses key questions from a variety of areas: the history of philosophy, reasoning and argumentation, ethics, philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, social and political theory, and aesthetics.  The Philosophy Track also offers a variety of special topics courses that address issues of interest to philosophers.  Special topics courses are concerned with a range of issues, e.g., courses may address the work of one particular figure in the history of philosophy, or a philosophical interpretation of modern cultural trends. 

B.A. in Philosophy & Religious Studies - Religious Studies Track

Students who take the Religious Studies Track will investigate the diversity of religious thought and practice from multicultural perspectives.  These students explore the influence of religious traditions in shaping values, norms, and public policies in societies worldwide. Regular course offerings in Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Indigenous traditions are integral to our curriculum.  Religious studies courses encourage multiple disciplinary approaches toward religious expression, whether in the fine arts, literature, politics, social conflict, language, history, or gender studies.  Overarching goals are to understand the significance of religion, with sympathetic insight into religious communities, and to analyze the dynamic influences of religion on social development and cultural transformation throughout history and around the globe.

B.A in Philosophy & Religious Studies (Philosophy Track or Religious Studies Track) Online

Beginning in the Fall 2016, the department will offer a B.A. degree in Philosophy and Religious Studies with a concentration in either the Philosophy Track or the Religious Studies Track. There will be 10 required courses (or 30 hours) in the major.

Students who elect to take the Philosophy track will take courses such as:

logic and argumentation  epistemology and scientific reasoning
history of philosophy       upper division electives in Philosophy & Religion
ethics society and culture
the senior capstone

Students who elect to take the Religious Studies track will take courses such as:

world religions       ethics and society
religious traditions        upper division electives in Philosophy & Religion
history of religion and sacred texts 

the senior capstone

Features of the Philosophy & Religious Studies Program

Philosophy challenges students to think critically and express themselves effectively. The philosophy curriculum addresses the key questions from a variety of areas: the history of philosophy, reasoning and argumentation, ethics, philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, social and political theory, and aesthetics. Students in Religious Studies investigate the diversity of religious thought and practice from multicultural perspectives, exploring how religion shapes values, norms, and public policies in societies worldwide.  The overarching goal is to understand the meaning of religion, with sympathetic insight into religious communities, and to analyze the dynamic influences of religion on social development and cultural transformation throughout history and around the globe.

Students are attracted to departmental courses from all over the university and for a range of different reasons and purposes.  Many students are attracted to the major in Philosophy and Religious Studies as undergraduate preparation for one of the professions such as law, teaching, ministry, or government service.  Many of our students are double majors who find that coursework in philosophy or religious studies complements academic preparation in history, political science, sociology or anthropology,  or one of the health professions.

  • pre-law students find the major to be excellent preparation for the LSAT and law school
  • many majors go on to graduate school in philosophy, religious studies, or some other advanced work
  • some students find the program in Philosophy and Religious Studies to be foundational for later work and study for ministry in the seminary or divinity school context
  • other students come to our program as part of an effort to understand the nature or meaning  of life from a philosophical or religious perspective
  • some seek additional coursework to complement another major

Philosophy & Religious Studies as “Significant Advantage” and “Competitive Edge”

  • Philosophy majors are now being listed as the top-paid class of 2016 in the Humanities.
  • Graduates of the program think they have a “significant advantage” in competition with others because they learned critical thinking skills. Jason Johns, a successful lawyer in Houston, wrote that “the logic and critical thinking I learned [at VSU in philosophy] has contributed to my success.” Another graduate, David Gregors writes that “having an understanding of the processes of logic and argumentation [learned in philosophy at VSU] has given me a significant advantage over my counterparts.”
  • Students have found that the Philosophy & Religious Studies program at VSU has given them an advantage in applying to graduate schools.  Kate Kirk, a recent graduate, wrote that “Philosophy [at VSU] gave me a “competitive edge” when applying to graduate programs.”  Alex Lawhorne, also a recent graduate, scored in the top 1% percent in the nation on the LSAT and was admitted to one of the premier law schools in the country at the University of Michigan.
  • Graduates in Philosophy & Religious Studies from Valdosta State University are developing a history of successful admission to some of the most prestigious graduates schools in the world including: Claremont, Notre Dame, Michigan, Vanderbilt, and the University College London.
  • Graduates find models for teaching in Philosophy & Religious Studies at Valdosta State University.  Nicholas Pumphrey, a recent graduate in Religious Studies and now a professor himself, wrote that “I . . . model my relationship with my students in the same way that my professors treated me.  The personal relationship that I had with my professors was a great asset.  I felt as if they were personally invested in my education.  I have translated that into the way I treat my students.  I would not be a professor now if it weren’t for my professors at VSU."
  • Religious Studies taught from a non-sectarian perspective.  While there are several online programs in religious studies taught from a sectarian perspective, the online program at VSU is only the second one in the country that is non-sectarian—unhindered by the dogma or doctrine of a particular religious group and instead dedicated to an academic study of religion.  It is the only such program in the eastern 2/3 of the country.

Out of State and Transient Students Are Welcome

Students can register as transient students if they are not currently enrolled at Valdosta State University. Try a course as a transient, then consider transferring to complete the major.

Out of state students are also welcome to join this program, our eTuition rate is very low, and we have reduced fees for online students.

Contact the VSU Office of Admissions with questions about how to apply:

Phone 229-333-5791  

Fax 229-333-5482

https://www.valdosta.edu/admissions/undergraduate/

Contact Person:           

For more information on any of the programs in Philosophy and Religious Studies contact:

Dr. Fred Downing

Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies

And Head of the Department

229-249-2776

fldowing@valdosta.edu