Theology & Religious Studies Overview

Why Study Theology at Rockhurst?

"Studying Theology is not like going to church. Understanding the basis of religion makes you a well-rounded person."

-Maggie Nichols, Rockhurst graduate

No matter what career you choose, the Theology and Religious Studies Department at Rockhurst University will give you an edge most colleges and universities cannot provide. Understanding the underpinnings of our world makes a world of difference to your success in life.

What exactly will I learn in Theology and Religious Studies?

The Department of Theology and Religious Studies has the same mission as other departments --scholarly understanding.

In fact, it's not what you may expect. There's no religious indoctrination or dogma-rather, lively academic study and discussion of Christianity and other religious phenomena. Whether students approach the data with or without a specific religious commitment is a matter of personal preference. After all, this is an academic excursion.

In Rockhurst's theology and religious studies classes you'll gain a solid understanding of the foundation and historical developments of Christianity as well as learn a variety of beliefs, literatures, theologies and histories concerning Christianity. In addition, in your core courses, you'll participate in animated discussions on issues such as sexuality, gender, liberation and other historic and present issues. All occur within an environment in which you have the freedom to doubt and think critically. This exposure to the underlying reasons for our very existence provide powerful insights that are helpful in any career, particularly education, collegiate research, healthcare and ethics.

Within the department of Theology and Religious Studies, you'll find an equally impressive roster of academic Ph.D.s as well as a variety of adjunct faculty members. The men and women of the department's faculty range from a Jesuit priest to married and single lay professors. Diversity abounds.

That diversity extends to the credentials of the faculty members as well. They are credentialed from an array of highly-acclaimed institutions. Their areas of specialization include systematic theology, historical theology, American Catholicism, Jewish/Christian relationships, healthcare ethics and New Testament studies. All publish within their field and are active in professional societies.

If you want to go beyond Rockhurst's core requirement, the concentration in theology consists of a minimum of 24 semester hours of upper-division work, plus 12 semester hours of related upper-division courses. Individuals participating in the Center for Pastoral Life and Ministry's New Wine Program may be able to arrange a related independent study program with the department of Theology and Religious Studies and earn credit hours.

What campus and extracurricular activities in religious studies are available to me?

At Rockhurst, you'll have plenty of opportunities to flex your mental muscles outside of class. You can pursue key issues with leading scholars via the Visiting Scholar Lecture Series in which lively, riveting speakers on interesting philosophical and religious topics are regularly brought to campus. Don't be surprised if they visit you in your class, too. It's a rare opportunity to interact with our country's leading minds.

In addition, you can participate in campus-wide forums on religious topics and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Younger Scholars research grants, as well as lectures, panel discussions, and special topic presentations of the Midwest Bioethics Center.

In addition, what you learn in these classes you'll live for the rest of your life. Consider the "big events" of life--death, birth, marriage, etc. Similarly, ethical issues have never been more pressing for the individual and the civic community. These and other equally intense issues all have theological roots.

How will a Jesuit education better prepare me for success in my future?

The Jesuit tradition of critical thinking embraces the fullness of free, multi-faceted inquiry and discussion, thus complementing the rigorous thinking done within the department of Theology and Religious Studies. You'll learn to creatively, proficiently consider all sides of the discussion.

As part of the Jesuit tradition of connective thinking, you'll learn to ask questions and question answers. That's the Rockhurst way of approaching goal setting, negotiation and problem solving. That's the way you'll be prepared for any situation.

But as a student of the Jesuit tradition of critical thinking, you won't just be better prepared for your career; you'll be better prepared for life.

After all, your profession is not an end in itself. We believe you have a responsibility to serve both your employer and other human beings. The broad base of theoretical and critical thinking skills you acquire will serve you in your personal, work, civic and family life. As a Rockhurst University graduate, you'll be prepared to demonstrate competence and conscience.

Rockhurst faculty are committed to the Jesuit tenet of first and foremost providing excellent, caring teaching. You can expect the faculty to be highly accessible, too.

Our small class size - averaging only 24 students - lets you become comfortable. You'll find we're neither big nor small-ideally sized so you and the faculty can truly get to know each other. This rapport aids the free exchange of opinions and ideas so cherished in a Jesuit institution.

Rockhurst professors are both teachers and scholars--a rare distinction. At Rockhurst, we firmly believe that the two should be combined and that scholarship reinforces teaching. In the same vein, our faculty members, virtually all academic Ph.D.s, are actively involved in current research and scholarly work.

Beyond the credentials comes "presentation." Rockhurst faculty present academic material in such a way that you can actually have fun with it.

How does the study of religion mesh with my plans to go to graduate school?

Rockhurst's theology and religious studies programs are ideal preparations for graduate study. As mentioned earlier, students entering the fields of law, medicine, politics, allied healthcare and business gain critical thinking and communication skills that will provide an incomparable competitive edge. To that end, Rockhurst University theology and religious studies students have successfully gone on to top graduate schools in the country.

"I chose Rockhurst because I was impressed with the faculty and the individual attention given to the student. Rockhurst also offers unique opportunities outside of the classroom."
-James Landes, 1995 Rockhurst graduate

At Rockhurst, the pursuit of wisdom prompts us to explore the most fundamental questions of human experience. When you're at Rockhurst, you'll be the one exploring these issues.

When you graduate from Rockhurst University, you will take a critical part of our college with you--your rigorous intellectual training. Without a doubt, you'll find that it's applicable anytime, anywhere.

The value of our theology and religious studies programs will serve you for life.

See Admission Information to learn more about Rockhurst and its Department of Theology and Religious Studies.