Degrees and Programs Religious Studies
Study with a group of committed scholars who are passionate about their work and their students and will invest in your education and spiritual growth.
Expand your view of faithful living as you witness the deep Christian faith of your professors and their varied denominational backgrounds. Be trained to think about and understand every area of the Christian faith so you can share your knowledge as it shapes your life. Prepare to answer a call to professional ministry or simply to live out your faith through your work and service in your church and community. Find your place in the millennia-old history of the Christian faith.
Major Requirements and Sample Schedule
RS 119, Early and Medieval Christianity
RS 120, Reformation and Modern Christianity
RS 142, World Religions
RS 159, Missiology
RS 180, Senior Seminar
One Old Testament course: RS 101, 102, 106, 108, 124, 154
One New Testament course: RS 110, 111, 113, 114, 116
Plus 20 units of Elective Courses
Religious Studies Minor (20 units)
One of: RS 119, 120, or 151
16 additional elective units
Biblical Languages Minor (20 units)
GRK 001, 002, 101, 102, 151
- RS 010, Introduction to New Testament
- Elective: GRK 001 (Elementary Greek) or HB 001 (Elementary Hebrew)
- RS 001, Introduction to Old Testament
- Elective: GRK 002 or HB 002
- RS 020, Christian Doctrine
- Core course: RS 110, Jesus and the Gospels
- Core course: RS 142, World Religions
- Core course: RS 101, Pentateuch
- Core course: RS 119, Early and Medieval Christianity
- Core course: RS 159, Missiology
- Elective: RS 116, The Apocalypse
- Core course: RS 120, Reformation and Modern Christianity
- Elective: RS 100, Foundations of Spiritual Formation
- Elective: RS 190, Religious Studies Internship
- Core course: RS 180, Senior Seminar
A New Testament and Greek scholar who explores how New Testament authors understand and quote from Old Testament texts.
Studying world religions and Christian mission takes him to Southeast Asia and the Pacific
A Baptist pastor and retired Air National Guard chaplain who teaches Old Testament and Hebrew
A New Testament scholar who studies the family and violence in the Bible and biblical worlds
Church historian who examines early Christian attitudes and practices regarding wealth and poverty
Brings Old Testament characters to life by exploring their world
A theologian who trains students to think like Christians
An interdisciplinary theologian who studies mysticism, religious experience, and race in Christian life and thought.
Meet the Staff
- Business (especially international business)
- Christian counseling, clinical counseling, spiritual direction
- Foreign and domestic missions
- Journalism and the arts
- Marketing and management
- Medicine (including physical therapy), medical missions
- Music, sacred music, worship leadership
- Nonprofit organizations, NGOs, Peace Corps
- Pastoring, youth ministry
- Social work, occupational therapy
- Teaching (secondary school, undergraduate, postgraduate)
Key Skills Our Graduates Develop
They will employ close reading skills with regard to primary sources: observation; inquiry; attention to genre, context, intertextuality, and literary influence; awareness of their own assumptions and cultural biases; awareness of audience(s) and effect on readers.
They will display judicious use of scholarly resources (e.g., language tools, commentaries, monographs, journals, dictionaries, encyclopedias, electronic databases, library holdings, inter-library loan, web-based tools). They will acknowledge dependence and influence through appropriate notes and bibliography.
They will appropriate a range of critical methodologies (e.g., historical, literary, textual, rhetorical, socio-cultural), draw on insights across the range of relevant disciplines (e.g., linguistics; anthropology; sociology; philosophy; archaeology), and recognize the insights and pitfalls of various ideological approaches (e.g., post-colonial, feminist, Marxist).
Our graduates will understand the fundamental claims and logic of the Christian faith, appreciate the development of Christian theological traditions over time, and be able to think theologically.
They will faithfully interpret texts including the Bible and other primary sources in the worldwide Christian tradition.
They will fairly evaluate the theological claims of secondary sources and current voices within and outside the Christian tradition.
They will thoughtfully address intellectual and practical issues involving both narrowly theological matters and concerns in other disciplines.
They will be acquainted with, and increasingly formed in, the practices that Christian theology serves including worship, fellowship, mission, study (especially of the Bible), and ethical conduct.
They will increasingly recognize connections between personal faith, scholarly inquiry, and the shared life of God’s people in the world past and present.
They will sense no conflict between rigorous intellectual inquiry, faithful service, and passionate worship.
They will establish lifelong disciplines marked by theological reflection, Christ-like compassion, and robust engagement in the public square.
Holly Beers published a short article entitled "Women in the Early Church" in Biblical Archaeology Review. She will also co-edit a new commentary series on the New Testament with Craig Keener of Asbury Theological Seminary, which will be published by Baker Academic. The series aims to serve traditions within the global church that identify as pentecostal, charismatic, and/or renewalist.
Sameer Yadav received a three-year teaching fellowship from Yale's Center for Faith and Culture to develop a class on Christ and Human Flourishing. His essay "The Mystery of the Immanent Trinity and the Procession of the Spirit" appeared in a collected volume of proceedings from the L.A. Theology Conference. He published a book review on John McClendon III's Black Christology and the Quest for Authenticity in Faith and Philosophy. Sameer also delivered a talk on "Thinking about Race during COVID-19" for the Bruton Forum in Williamsburg, VA. He was a guest lecturer for a Philosophy of Religion seminar at Murray State University on "Analytic Theology as Liberation Theology," and he joined the editorial board for the Journal of Analytic Theology.
Sandra Richter was named in Patheos as one of "30 OT/HB Scholars to Read and Follow"; her work on environmental theology has been featured in the past several months on the "Church Leaders" podcast with Jason Daye, "Outreach Magazine" podcast with Megan Briggs, "(Re)thinking Faith" with Josh Patterson and Marty Frederick, the Bob Dutko Show radio show, "The Imagers Podcast" with Johnny Mejia, "Honest Conversations Podcast (Looking at Tough Topics through a Biblical Lens)" with Rebecca Carrell, and Andrew Miller's "Captain's Corner" Tampa based podcast with the Salvation Army.
Religious Studies Alumni
Religious Studies increased our awareness of the diverse and complex world views held globally. This global perspective has in turn changed not only how we interact with the global context but our local community. Our understanding of culture and religion inside the classroom grew into an active passion which flowed into our local church, neighborhoods, and city of Santa Barbara. This understanding of how we view the world “glocally” pushes us to learn even far beyond our graduation day from Westmont College.
Kat Burgett '11
I hadn't even thought about majoring in RS until my sophomore year, when a friend talked me into switching majors over lunch. Best impulse decision I’ve ever made! My RS professors and classmates taught me to love God with my mind. They helped me think through issues of faith I had never considered, and recognize the extraordinary richness of the Bible I had read all my life. After graduating from Westmont I completed an MDiv, then spent a year on staff at a church in South Africa. Now I'm working on a Ph.D. in New Testament at Duke University, where I get paid to study Paul's letters and teach seminary students about the Bible. This is a calling I had never imagined for myself before Westmont, and I’m so glad the RS department helped me find it!
Amanda Mathisen Stylianou ’06
Left Westmont for a semester to work full time at a domestic violence shelter and discovered her calling. After graduating with a double major in sociology and religious studies, she completed a Master of Social Work at Rutgers University in New Jersey. She became a licensed social worker in mental health counseling working with victims of abuse and trauma and earned a doctorate at Rutgers. She directs research and evaluation at Safe Horizon, a New York City organization that serves victims of domestic violence at shelters, centers and sites such as family courts and police precincts.
Pablo Otaola ’06
An immigrant from Argentina, began his career with Young Life (YL) as an intern during college. Passionate about the poor Latino community he grew up with, he became an area director in Chicago. He developed a holistic vision for healthy urban families, seeking to support kids from sixth grade through age 30. He takes a community-development approach, preaching Christ and meeting immediate needs. He helps start businesses that employ kids, such as designing T-shirts, and builds partnerships with local churches. He now serves YL in southwest Denver, which is 91 percent Latino. He is completing both an MBA and a master’s in spiritual formation at North Park Seminary.
Sharon Koh ’00
Joined the staff of Evergreen Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 2004, beginning as a senior associate pastor for college and young adults, then shifting to young adults and mission before spending eight years leading mission and community life. In 2016, she became executive director of American Baptist International Ministries. “This has long been God’s call on my life,” she says. “I’m excited to head an organization whose main goal is facilitating mission.” She earned a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and a Master of Arts in theology focused on global mission and hermeneutics. She is completing a Doctor of Ministry at Fuller in leading change.