Sep 19, 2021  
2018-2019 Undergraduate Catalog 
2018-2019 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Religious Studies & Philosophy: Religious Studies Concentration, B.A.

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Religious Studies & Philosophy (RS/PL)

The historic tradition of the liberal arts is to enrich learners with a heightened sense of responsibility and autonomy. The integrative Religious Studies & Philosophy major trains students to be critical and independent thinkers who are centered on larger human purposes for which we work and interact with others. In an age overwhelmingly centered on technological progress, efficient and convenient outcomes, and material satisfaction of desires, focusing on the individual’s spiritual and intellectual life provides a foundation and meaningful context for your life in our global community.

While the predominant orientation of this program is towards enriching your sense of purpose and commitment to values of social justice, care for others, and dignity for all, we also realize your need to enter the workplace with skills and practices which facilitate successful career choices. In today’s job market, employers increasingly seek candidates with the following skills: critical thinking, analytic writing, cultural understanding and sensitivity, communicative empathy, and intellectual initiative. Our program focuses upon these marketable skills.

Finally, our integrated major is just that - a mutually-enriching and critical dialogue between two disciplines that are central to the liberal arts at a Catholic institution. In keeping with the tradition of such institutions, faith and reason are taken as valued standpoints from which to approach academic work and community life. Thus, the ordering signifies neither hierarchy nor dependency of one discipline upon the other. Rather, students will grapple with problems, themes, and questions from shared and distinctive standpoints.

Core Requirements

All students must complete the Avila University Core Curriculum as a part of their degree programs. The Core consists of a minimum of 39 credit hours that meet the requirements listed below. Please go to Core Curriculum  for more information and to view all Core classes.

Core Foundations (9-11 credit hours)

Foundations requirements provide the basic skills essential for effective participation in other classes as well as the professional world.

Core Pillars & Levels (30 credit hours)

Pillars and Levels requirements address the breadth of knowledge expected of a liberal arts education and challenges students to integrate prior knowledge and create new ideas through higher levels of coursework.

Cross-Application Note: All courses that meet a Pillar also meet a Level and may meet a Designation requirement. Some courses taken for major and/or minor requirements may also meet Core requirements.

    Social Justice & Civic Life Pillar 
(6 credit hours required)

Creativity & Culture Pillar
(6 credit hours required)

Belief & Reason Pillar
(6 credit hours required)
Explorations of Nature Pillar 
(6 credit hours required)

24 credit hours required 












6 credit hours required CONTRIBUTE LEVEL




Core Designations

Core Component Designations requirements incorporate assignments and experiences focused on developing and deepening student understanding to prepare students for responsible lifelong contributions to the global community.

CORE Designations

Interdisciplinary Studies (IS)

(9 credit hours)

Global Studies (GS)    

(9 credit hours)     

Community Engagement (CE)    

(3 credit hours) 







Transfer Students

The Core Component Designations requirement for transfer students is determined by the number of credit hours transferred to Avila University. Please see the Transfer Students  page within this catalog.


As noted above, courses can have multiple designations and thus meet multiple requirements at once.

Example: BI 215 - Humans & the Environment (3)  meets all of the following requirements:

  • Belief & Reason Nature Pillar
  • Transform Level
  • Global Studies (GS) Designation
  • Major Requirement

Major Related Requirements

Major Requirements

Candidates for the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in Religious Studies & Philosophy must complete all the Core Curriculum degree requirements as state in the University catalog. Majors must receive a grade of “C” or higher in all courses taken.

All majors take a selection of courses as well as self-selected courses within one’s chosen area of concentration of either Philosophy of Religious Studies. All majors also complete an interdisciplinary and integrated senior capstone course, then choose one of two options: Option I is an international/intercultural experience followed by a public presentation; Option II is writing a senior thesis and providing a public, oral defense of that thesis.


For the major concentration, students must take the major core requirements outlined above along with 15 additional credit hours in the chosen area of concentration. Nine credit hours of the area of concentration must be at the 300 or 400 level in that area or in other approved courses.

Senior Seminar

Option I - International/Intercultural Experience

Working with one’s major advisor, students who choose the international/intercultural experience may choose one of the following options: an experience which has an international and/or intercultural travel component, a service or service-learning opportunity within the Kansas City region or within the broader U.S., or an intercultural practicum or experience designed in conjunction with your major advisor. Within this experiential option, students work with their major advisor to design a public presentation component that draws together their academic studies with this experience.

Option II - Thesis and Oral Defense

Students who choose the thesis/defense option must complete this work in their Senior year. Working in conjunction with a faculty member in the discipline of concentration, students will write a twenty-five to thirty-page thesis that demonstrates extensive research, critical analysis, and argumentation. Weeks before graduation, students will give a public talk based upon the paper and answer critical questions from both the thesis committee and the general audience.

Technology Requirement

Computer competency will be demonstrated by successful completion of:


In addition to the general degree requirements stated earlier in this catalog, majors will be expected to meet the following program outcomes:

Outcome 1.

Develop a global understanding of relationships among reasoned inquiry, religious faiths and human values. (PL 111 , PL 112 , PL 113 , RS 111 , RS 117 , PL 221 , RS 225 RS 231 , RS 251 , RS 252 , PL 255 )

Outcome 2.

Analyze and evaluate significant philosophies, religious ideas or discourses in order to systematically and critically articulate one’s own spiritual, intellectual and/or ethical commitments. (PL 111 , PL 112 , PL 113 , RS 111 , PL 326  /WS 326 , PL 339 , PL 255 , RS 311 /IS 311 , PL 355 )

Outcome 3.

Explore the distinctiveness of rational inquiry as a unique form of human understanding, motivation and justification. (PL 111 , PL 112 , PL 113 , RS 111 , PL 221 , PL 255 , PL 311 , PL 355 )

Outcome 4.

Investigate historical, socio-cultural and political dimensions of diverse religious traditions and practices. (RS 111 , RS 117 , PL 221 , RS 233 , RS 319 /IS 319 /WS 319 )

Outcome 5.

Refine your understanding, interpretations and critical perspectives through writing, speaking and collaborative work. (all PL/RS courses)


The outcomes are assessed through examinations and written assignments. In the final year of study, students will synthesize and utilize their learned skills of cultural understanding, critical thinking, and intellectual initiative through critical independent research, writing, and presentation within the Senior Seminar.

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