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Philosophy & Religion


The Philosophy and Religion major is a department within the College of Arts & Letters.


Interdisciplinary Philosophy
Interdisciplinary Religion

Admission and Progression Standards

Visit the Major Snapshots site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.

Description of Major

Philosophy and Religion is offered as a combined major with a concentration in either Philosophy or Religion. Minors are offered in both. Students may choose one of the four concentrations: philosophy, religion, philosophy with an interdisciplinary focus, or religion with an interdisciplinary focus.  Students completing a major with a concentration in philosophy are expected to know the major movements, problems, writings, concepts and terms in the history of Western philosophy. The program concentrates on major figures such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Kant; on problems arising in contemporary movements such as analytic philosophy, existentialism and American philosophy and on the major subdivisions of philosophy, including logic, ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, philosophy and law, philosophy of science and philosophy of religion. Students completing a major with a concentration in religion take courses in Western Religious Traditions, Eastern Religious Traditions, Biblical Studies,  and Religion and Society, and specialize in one of these areas. Students who plan to attend law school should seriously consider philosophy as a major concentration. Philosophy courses emphasize the kinds of skills that prepare students for the LSAT and the law school curriculum. Students who plan to attend seminary should consult the pre-seminary advisor, who can help design an academic plan as preparation for further study in theological seminaries and university divinity schools. The following fundamental skills will be acquired by students in this major: the ability to think critically; increased capabilities for problem solving and argument analysis; the ability to express one's views clearly and concisely, orally and in writing; and global awareness.

More About the Field 

Philosophy involves examining and questioning our most basic beliefs about the constituents of reality, the course of action that is right and just for individuals and societies, what can we know about the world with certainty, what beauty is, and what makes for a sound argument. Philosophy touches upon almost every aspect of human life. Philosophy provides perspective on science, art, medicine, religion, politics and technology. Many Philosophy majors pursue careers in academics, however, these graduates also work in a broad range of non-academic fields. For example: business, computers and technology, consulting, finance, government (local, state and federal), law, marketing, media, publishing and religious ministry.

Religion, as an area of academic study, involves the objective study of one's own and other people's religions. Besides learning about major historical developments in the world's great religions, there is analysis of religious beliefs, comparison of the different traditions, and study of the social, cultural, and political significance of religion  in American and global contexts.


Most students would not specialize to any degree at the undergraduate level. But it is recognized that a student will want to emphasize some offerings over others. Therefore, concentrations are offered in either Philosophy or Religion. The interdisciplinary options allow students to combine either Philosophy or Religion with 9 hours of related course work in another department.

Complementary Majors and Minors 

Many students combine this major with a second major or minor from another department. The Philosophy concentration could be enhanced with the following: Anthropology, Art History, Computer Science, Communication Studies, Creative Writing, Criminal Justice, Economics, English, Environmental Studies, Justice Studies, Management, Management Science, Mathematics, Pre Law, Political Communication, Political Science, Psychology, Public Policy and Administration, Sociology, Technical and Scientific Communication, Women’s Studies or Writing and Rhetoric. The Religion concentration could be enhanced by any of the following: Africana Studies, American Studies, Anthropology, Art History, Communication Studies, Conflict Analysis and Intervention, Creative Writing, Criminal Justice, Family Issues, Gerontology, Health Communication, Historical Archaeology, History, Human Science, Humanitarian Affairs, Latin American Studies, Modern Foreign Language, Political Science, Pre Theology, Psychology, Russian Studies, Social Work, Sociology, Substance Abuse Intervention, Women’s Studies or Writing and Rhetoric.

Characteristics of Successful Students

Many employers are now looking for students with that something extra, a quality that sets them apart from the run of the mill major in one of the pre professional areas. This quality is often found in Humanities majors in the fields of Philosophy, Religion, English, Foreign Languages or History, where the student gains broad knowledge about life, develops the skill of writing effectively, and learns to think analytically and creatively.


Many graduates choose typical career paths associated with this major. However, some graduates choose unrelated careers that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. Keep in mind that some fields will require graduate study or further training. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.

  • Arbitrator
  • Archivist
  • Biographer
  • Book Critic
  • Campus Religious Director
  • Church Camp Director
  • College Recruiter
  • Communications Coordinator
  • Community Services Director
  • Consumer Advocate
  • Counselor
  • Diplomat
  • Editor
  • Foreign Service Officer
  • Foreign Student Advisor
  • Grant Writer
  • Immigration Officer
  • Intelligence Agent (FBI/ CIA)
  • Journalist
  • Lawyer
  • Legal Assistant
  • Legislative Aide
  • Librarian
  • Lobbyist
  • Management Analyst
  • Marketing Research Analyst
  • Mediator
  • Minister/ Pastor/ Rabbi/ Clergy
  • Missionary
  • Peace Corps/ VISTA Worker
  • Personnel Manager
  • Political Activist
  • Production/ Publication Planner
  • Professor
  • Psychiatrist
  • Psychologist
  • Public Administrator
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Public Service Officer
  • Religious Education Director
  • Religious Youth Director
  • Research Assistant
  • Social Worker
  • Speech Writer
  • Teacher/ Educator
  • Technical Writer

Who Employs Graduates?

Law Firms, Advocacy Groups, K-12 Education, Colleges and Universities, Community Service Agencies, Consulting Firms, Corporations, Court Systems, Federal & State Government Agencies, Medical Professions, Financial Institutions, Hospitals, Houses of Worship – all denominations, Non Profit Agencies, Publishing Firms, Public sector and Private sector Administration, Religious Service Organizations and Research Institutes. 

Internships and Experiential Opportunites 

Internships and other forms of individual study are available to all students who are both interested and qualified. For example, opportunities are available in law offices, drug rehabilitation centers, and the county planner's office. Students should contact faculty coordinators in their areas of interest to gain further information.

View our list of internship coordinators for each major.

Career Profiles 

Philosphy and Religion Teachers, Postsecondary
Why Study Religion?

Research Careers

Visit our Career Outcomes page to find out what alumni were doing right after graduating with this major.


Log in to Vault for access to detailed information on over 900 professions including employment prospects, estimated salaries, possible job titles, and top companies.


Visit our Research Careers page for even more career research tools.



© Career and Academic Planning, James Madison University,

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from JMU Career and Academic Planning. Content for each major has been written/reviewed by faculty in the respective department and is revised each year. Requests to update content can be submitted to

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