The department of religious studies at the University of Virginia is engaged in the analysis and interpretation of those dimensions of human experience and expressions of human culture commonly called "religious." This is a multi-disciplinary effort devoted to a wide range of phenomena: myth, symbol, and ritual; the genesis and interpretation of religious texts; the formation, history, and character of religious communities; traditions of religious belief and practice; the role of religion in society and culture; religious ethics, philosophy of religion, and religion and the arts. The department is well-equipped for the intensive study of the five major world religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism), as well as area-studies in religion (African, American, South and East Asian, and Middle Eastern).
The department of religious studies at the University of Virginia stands fully among the liberal arts in a public, non-sectarian institution. It adheres to the principles of free academic inquiry in a pluralistic setting, and is engaged in continuous conversation with other academic disciplines in the university community. It has no relationship with any theological seminary, church body, or particular religious tradition.
With twenty-nine full-time members and six joint members, the department is the largest of its kind among public universities in the United States. The department offers an undergraduate major in religious studies (including a distinguished majors program) leading to the B.A., an undergraduate minor, and also a full program of graduate studies leading to the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. The department's undergraduate program has been rated by the Gourman Report as the best in the nation, and the department's graduate program is ranked by the National Research Council as the sixth best in the nation, and the best in a public institution.
A large number of Religious Studies faculty have won teaching awards from the University and outside foundations.
Kurtis Schaeffer, Chair.
Martien Halvorson-Taylor, Associate Chair.
Larry Bouchard, Director of Graduate Program.
Ben Ray, Director of Undergraduate Program.
Mick Watson, Secretary to the Chair, Fiscal Administrator, Human Resources.
Elizabeth Smith, Graduate Secretary, Fiscal Administrator.
Doug Burgess, Undergraduate Secretary, Curriculum Coordinator.