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The study of religion is one of the most comprehensive ways of understanding humankind and human visions of reality.

Religious Studies at McMaster

Welcome to the Department of Religious Studies at McMaster University. Our department was the first of its kind established in Canada. It houses some of the world’s foremost scholars and teachers of religion, working on a variety of religious traditions and using a wide diversity of approaches. I invite you to take a few minutes to explore our website and learn more about who we are, and what we do. Please feel free to stop by University Hall and say hello, or to contact us with any questions you may have. 

Daniel Machiela, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies

Phone: 905-525-9140 ext. 24734

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Why Study Religion at McMaster?

In Canada's multicultural society and in the context of an increasingly interconnected world, it is important to have an understanding of different religions and cultures. The approach to the study of religion at McMaster engages with the complex and exciting questions that animate the intersection of society, culture, and religion.
How do religions motivate people in a range of activities, both to create and destroy? How do the world's religions inform the arts, politics, and personal and social ethics? How do traditions relate to the range of human experience and spirituality in both the past and the present in different parts of the globe? These are are some of the basic questions you'll ask in Religious Studies as you explore:

Religion & The Human Condition

  • Discover how religious thinkers have grappled with the important philosophical, ethical, and political questions posed by various religions.

Religions in Historical Perspective

  • Understand the ways in which diverse religious practices and ideas have developed from antiquity to the present.

Culture & Contemporary Society

  • Explore the diverse ways in which religion impacts our contemporary world, both locally and globally.

Texts & Tradition

  • Learn how authoritative religious texts have been composed, understood, interpreted, and reinterpreted by their diverse communities.

Undergraduate Program

All known civilizations, cultures, and nations have been deeply affected by religion. Religions have created institutions such as temples and schools, produced great works of literature and art, and organized rituals to mark the continuities and changes in individual and communal lives. Religions have both legitimated political structures and inspired revolutions. Whether we are concerned with international affairs or our everyday experience in multicultural cities like Hamilton, religious diversity is a key element of social interaction. The study of religion is one of the most comprehensive ways of understanding humankind and human visions of reality.

Undergraduate Program

Graduate Program

One of the first graduate programs in Religious Studies in Canada, McMaster University has been a leading centre for the scholarly study of religion for more than 50 years. The Department has three graduate fields of study (Asian, Biblical, and Western) and research is conducted in a range of topics and traditions, time periods and cultures, employing a wide variety of approaches: textual, ethnographic, historical, philosophical, theological, philological. While the faculty and areas of research expertise have changed over the years, the Department’s commitment to the open, critical, and multidisciplinary study of religion—past and present, East and West, theoretical and practical—remains passionate and strong.

Graduate Programs