"To practice the history of religions... is to insist on discussing the temporal, contextual, situated, interested, human, and material dimensions of those discourses, practices, and institutions that characteristically represent themselves as eternal, transcendent, spiritual, and divine."

- Bruce Lincoln, "Theses on Method" (1996)


The Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania offers a wide range of courses, undergraduate Majors and Minors, and a renowned PhD program. With particular strengths in the study of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and the African-American religious experience, it emphasizes historical and critical approaches, as well as interdisciplinary exploration within and beyond Religious Studies.


Chair of the Department: Justin McDaniel
Graduate Chair: Annette Yoshiko Reed
Undergraduate Chair: Justin McDaniel


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Featured News

RELS Fall 2015 Courses

Looking for interesting courses for the fall? Check out our RELS undergraduate offerings -- including many that fulfill College sector and foundational approaches requirements, such as... 

Prof. McDaniel among 34st Street's "Penn's Best Professors"

After tallying over 150 nominations for the best professor at Penn, 34st Street selected Penn's best-loved profs--among them, our very own Prof. Justin McDaniel!

New residential program and RELS Freshman Seminar on "Making Meaning"

Annette Yoshiko Reed and Benjamin Fleming, Faculty Master and Associate Master of Fisher Hassenfeld College House, are developing a new residential program and Freshman Seminar on "Making Meaning" (RELS 035), exploring issues of global cultural and religious difference through the lens of the diversity of Philadelphia 

Prof. Weitzman reflects on his first year as Katz Center director

Katz Center 2015 newsletter includes reflections from Prof. Steve Weitzman on his first year as Ella Darivoff Director of Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies