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Society, Culture & Religion

Religion is an integral part of human cultures and civilizations. The Society, Culture & Religion programs examine how religion influences and shapes the world. They use an interdisciplinary focus to study how ancient and contemporary human cultures ask and answer the “big questions.”

Studying cultures and religions help inform the root causes of what’s going on in our world, locally and internationally. The programs allow students to meet challenges in fields such as, law, politics, teaching, healthcare, business, journalism and social services.

At McMaster, we offer a breadth of courses and programs tailored to individual student interests. Our professors offer expertise in a wide range of disciplines including Anthropology, Political Philosophy, Ethics and History. This diversity contributes to our focus on cultivating critical thinkers, engaged citizens and effective communicators.

We offer minors in:
• Muslim Studies
• Jewish Studies
• Japanese Studies
• Religion & Diversity
• Society, Culture & Religion
• Health, Well-Being & Religion - New - Fall 2019!

*Note: As of September 2019 Religious Studies B.A. programs will be renamed Society, Culture & Religion

photo of Delany Satheeswaran

Delany Satheeswaran

Honours Society, Culture & Religion BA, Level IV

“I love the Society, Culture & Religion program because I enjoy being able to piece together how different religions and cultures function within political and social environments. Since Canada is known for its multiculturalism, as a student in this program, I will be able to understand and work with diverse populations.”

Focus of Study

Religion, Philosophy & Politics
Courses examine the complex relationships between philosophy, politics and religion.

Region & Culture
Cross-cultural study of religious phenomena including cults in North America, health, healing and religion, death and dying.

Western Religious Traditions
Courses cover Christian thought from all historical periods, Jewish history and philosophy and Islam, the encounter between religious thought and modernity.

Asian Religious Traditions
Both religious traditions and the religion and culture of the geographic area.

Biblical Studies
Courses focus on the Judaeo-Christian scriptures and the history of early Judaism and early Christianity.

Society, Culture & Religion Degree Options

Social Sciences students start off in Level I. At the end of first-year, students who meet the requirements outlined below can pursue one of the following degree options in Religious Studies:

  • Honours B.A.
    Grade Point Average of at least 5.0 (C) including a grade of at least 5.0 (C) in three units of Level I Religious Studies.

  • Combined Honours B.A. in Society, Culture & Religion & Another Subject
    Grade Point Average of at least 5.0 (C) including a grade of at least 5.0 (C) in three units of Level I Religious Studies. Satisfaction of the admission requirements for the Honours program in the other B.A. subject.

  • B.A.
    Grade Point Average of at least 3.5 including a grade of at least 4.0 (C-) in three units of Level I Religious Studies.


The Department of Religious Studies also offers the following Minors that can be taken alongside another degree program:

  • Minor in Health, Well-Being & Religion New - Fall 2019!
  • Minor in Religious Studies
  • Minor in Religion & Diversity
  • Minor Japanese Studies
  • Interdisciplinary Minor in Jewish Studies
  • Interdisciplinary Minor in Muslim Studies

Society, Culture & Religion Program Details

Build Your Skills

Faculty in the Religious Studies Department at McMaster are engaged in research on:

  • Japanese religions
  • Technology and ethics
  • Buddhist monastic law
  • Buddhism, alcohol and tea in Medieval China
  • Anthropology of pilgrimage, focusing on an unofficial Catholic pilgrimage shrine in Brittany
  • The emerging dialogue between theology and the new physics and biology the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Skill development

As a Society, Culture & Religion student, you will bring valuable skills to your workplace. Good interpreters of ideas and information are in high demand, and in today’s global society, basic knowledge of  other cultures and religious perspectives is indispensable. Society, Culture & Religion graduates have an advantage in that they are trained to deal with the problems of colliding belief systems. Our students develop:

  • Problem-solving using critical, analytical, reasoned thought
  • Interpretation and communication skills cultivated through verbal presentations, discussions and debates
  • Knowledge of social research, quantitative methods and qualitative interviewing
  • Ability to work with diverse groups of people and understand 'both sides'
  • Training in cross-cultural inquiry and comparative evaluation

Our graduates have been successful at finding interesting and rewarding careers in a range of fields in both the public and private sectors

Examples of career paths include:

  • Career Counselling
  • Civil Service
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Government Agencies
  • Human Rights
  • International Aid Advising
  • Journalism
  • Law
  • Public Service
  • Publishing/Editing
  • Social Services
  • Mediation
  • Human Resource Management

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