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Religious Studies


Seek and you will find. One of the great tasks of young adulthood is to construct a world view – a way of making sense of life as a whole. Religion study and spirituality shape our mission and identity as each student is invited to deepen their spiritual values and understanding of vocation. The Religious Studies program at Clarke University serves the Church and attends to marginalized and vulnerable populations, from the local community to the wider world. Raising social consciousness, reflecting on the Catholic social tradition, and acting for justice is integral to the student experience. Studying religious studies at Clarke University gives students new perspectives that translate into job advantage, graduate school, enrichment, and preparation for living thoughtfully and courageously in the 21st century. If you are interested in getting a Religious Studies degree, check out our campus visits and virtual visits in Dubuque, Iowa, so you can see for yourself that Clarke is one of the best religious study programs in the Midwest.

You might ask, what is the value, why study religion? Whether you are certain in your faith, unsure, or just searching for more – you can minor in Religious Studies programs to address your “big questions” and explore a meaning to life rooted in self-awareness and compassion. Religious education degree students have opportunities to work closely with faculty members to explore their interests through independent studies, book discussions, and guided research.

Working with advisors in the Religious Studies degree department and another department such as psychology, English, history, music, nursing, or sociology, and taking a selection of courses in both disciplines, students craft individualized learning plans. Combining your religious education degree with related fields further enhances your career preparation.

MINISTRY TRACKS (for Religious Studies degree minors)

  • Youth Ministry
    Can you see yourself as a youth minister in a parish, congregation, or school setting? Combine religious studies with psychology.
  • Music Ministry
    Are you a music major considering future work as a choir director or liturgist? Study music and religious studies.
  • Health Care Ministry
    Are you a student who would like to serve patients in a holistic and faith-filled way? Combine your major in nursing with religious studies.
  • Social Work & Faith-Based Service
    Do you feel called to be a social worker in a faith-based or nonprofit setting? Combine your major in social work with religious studies.

Students desiring to deepen their faith or explore the religious dimensions of their future professions may pursue the Spirituality and Leadership Track. Students work with a mentor to integrate Religious Studies coursework into another academic major or professional program around questions of faith, spirituality, and vocation. This 15 credit track is recognized on a student’s university transcript and includes:

  • 3 hours of RELS 100 Foundations of the Spiritual Life
  • 6 hours of 200 level Religious Studies electives
  • 6 hours from any 300 level or 400 level Religious Studies courses
  • Faith & Leadership Activity – With the guidance of a mentor, students lead or participate in an activity that demonstrates an integration of spirituality and the Clarke University mission. This may happen in an academic course, a student life activity, an extracurricular event, a faith community, or off-site with a learning contract.

The Power of Liberal Arts

When learning about schools with philosophy and religious studies, you should seek a school with strong liberal arts and religious studies programs, as they will be the backbone of your learning. The ability to write well, speak well, and problem solve are some of the top skills employers seek when hiring new graduates. Leaders need to know how to create, collaborate, innovate, and inspire. A liberal arts education and emphasis in Religious Studies prepares you to do just that, forming those critical skills that separate leaders from followers. And, because a liberal arts education translates to many different careers, you also have the option of easily jumping into a new job if you’re ready to try something different.

Program Details

Program Details

Why study religion? You’ll explore the spiritual dimensions of human existence and think critically about the connections between faith and life in our world today. This spiritual search for meaning, grounded in the teachings of the Catholic tradition, investigates Christian theology and concepts of God, relates an understanding of contemporary biblical scholarship and Christian faith, and explores the ethical and social responsibilities of Christians living in a global community. Students come to see that their life and actions stand as a continual witness to shape a more just and peaceful world. This Religious Studies degree gives students new perspectives and prepares them for living courageously in the 21st century.


Clarke University believes that opportunities for service outside the classroom deepen a student’s understanding of complex philosophical, social, and political issues and help them develop a sense of civic responsibility. Our students in religion study volunteer in the community and participate in service-learning whenever possible here in Dubuque, Iowa, regionally, nationally, and abroad.

Unique Coursework

Here is a sampling of the types of unique and diverse classes you will take in the Religious Studies degree program:

FAITH AND DOUBT — Study contemporary challenges to belief in Christianity, including the science-religion debate, atheism, and the nature of Christian revelation.

WORLD RELIGIONS — Explore the origins, beliefs, rituals, and scriptures of Eastern and Western religious traditions.

PRACTICUM IN CATECHETICAL, LITURGICAL, PASTORAL, OR YOUTH MINISTRIES — A service or ministry internship involving theological reflection with a faculty member.

Admission to Clarke University

Applicants are considered on an individual basis. Apply to Clarke today to begin your journey.

Let’s Talk Careers

Religious studies majors may opt to pursue non-ordained clergy positions upon graduation. Ordained clergy, such as rabbi, priest and chaplain positions, require seminary training in addition to a bachelor’s degree. A minor in Religious Studies can open the door to many types of careers, such as:

  • Church Ministry
  • Theological Education
  • Social Work
  • Justice & Peace Advocacy
  • International Development
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Teacher
  • Government
  • Community Outreach Worker
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Meet Our Faculty

When our Religious Studies degree graduates speak about the Clarke moments that helped shape them, there’s always a professor in the story. That’s because being a faculty member at Clarke University requires a deep passion for educating, encouraging, and empowering students. Here, your professors will know your name. They will push you to develop your full potential, and then they’ll ask for more. And, they’ll be right there to congratulate you when you exceed even your own expectations. Often, it’s a relationship that lasts a lifetime.

View Our Faculty & Staff
Paulette Skiba, Ph.D.

Paulette Skiba, Ph.D.

Chair and Professor of Religious Studies

I try to create a space in the classroom where students are free to grapple honestly with the central questions of meaning, purpose, and God.

William Gregory, Ph.D.

William Gregory, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Knowledge has a power of its own to transform lives and open up the world anew. I simply aspire to be a messenger.

Susanna Cantu Gregory, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

I aim for students to sense their own memories, convictions, questions, and contexts are not only welcome but crucial sources for dialogue in a Religious Studies classroom.

Getting ready to take notes in a Clarke University English Class
There’s more to college than going to class.

The Classroom and Beyond

But don’t take our word for it…

Our Students & Alumni

Erin Daly

Erin Daly

Religious Studies ‘13

I learned a lot about not just my faith, but the spiritual quest for Truth that lies in every human heart. I definitely owe much of my love of diving into my faith to my time at Clarke.

Cecilia Bean

Cecilia Bean


I love the way that the religious studies professors really want to see me succeed and are willing to jump over mountains with me to get there. I know I will achieve my goal to be a missionary overseas.

Mileva Gacanich

Mileva Gacanich

Biochemistry and Math ‘16

Through my experience at Antioch, I have really learned a lot about myself both spiritually and fundamentally, and I believe that this knowledge plays a role in my day-to-day life.

Personal attention

The one-to-one learning that happens at Clarke means students succeed at securing internships and career opportunities.


We are aligned with the USCCB national certification standards in lay ministry and prepare students for work in parish ministries, educational institutions, social justice agencies, and charities.

Other Programs to Explore

Experience Clarke Religious Studies for Yourself

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