About the Department

Founded in 1973, Stanford’s Department of Religious Studies offers a variety of disciplinary perspectives on religion and on the history, literature, thought, and practice of particular religious traditions. The department is home to a dozen regular faculty, with strengths especially in the study of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism; it enrolls about thirty graduate students and roughly fifteen undergraduate majors, minors, and joint majors at one time. An early history of the department by emeritus professor Van Harvey is available here: “Religious Studies at Stanford: An Historical Sketch.”

With a broad range of undergraduate and graduate courses, the Department of Religious Studies aims to offer all Stanford students the means to enhance their knowledge of religion as an important aspect of the human experience and of the world’s cultural diversity, so as to equip them for global citizenship.  At the same time, the department strives to advance research in Religious Studies and to contribute to the public understanding of religion and its role in human affairs.  To read the department mission statement, click here.

In addition to its regular curriculum, the department sponsors several annual academic programs: the Religious Studies Colloquium series; the Aaron-Roland Lecture in Jewish Studies; the Evans-Wentz Lecture in Oriental Philosophies, Religions and Ethics; the Religious Studies Lecture in Islamic Studies; an annual Graduate Student Conference; and the Howard M. Garfield Forum for Undergraduates.

In pursuit of its mission, Religious Studies works closely with related programs at Stanford: