Religious Studies


The academic study of religion exposes students to a variety of nonsectarian theoretical and methodological approaches they can apply to the study of religious practices, material objects, rituals, texts, beliefs, mythologies, and ethics.  The Religious Studies Department at McDaniel College offers a variety of courses designed to encourage students to think critically and analytically about the world’s diverse religious traditions. Students of religion therefore gain more than knowledge of various religions; they learn valuable analytical skills and knowledge of world history they can practically apply after graduation. Our faculty is trained in a variety of religious traditions, which allows the student to gain a comprehensive exposure to religions small and large, present and past, near and far.

“The skills I learned as a religious studies major have been the keys to my success. I learned to look beneath the surface for deeper meaning—being able to hear everyone’s ideas and draw the links between them - have served me well in the IT industry.”

Baker Memorial, lower level

Dr. Greg Alles
(410) 857-2562

Religious Studies Online Catalog

Majors & Courses

Students often find courses in Religious Studies helpful in broadening their perspectives not only on religion but also on the world. A major or minor in Religious Studies can broaden or globalize a primary major. The College’s proximity to the Baltimore-Washington provides ample opportunity to explore and study a variety of religions. Coursework does not presume any religious commitment on the part of the student, nor endorses, promotes or condemns any particular religion, set of religions, or religion in general. Instead, students examine religions as subjects of academic inquiry, and learn a variety of methods to do so, humanistic, social scientific, at times even natural scientific.


Professor Gregory AllesProfessor and department chair Gregory Alles

(Ph.D., Chicago), teaches in the areas of Hinduism, Buddhism, and methods and theories in the study of religions. Twice a Fulbright research scholar in India, his current research interests focus on adivasis (indigenous people) in western India.  A past president of the North American Association for the Study of Religions, he co-edits, with Olav Hammer (Odense), Numen, the journal of the International Association for the History of Religions.

Greg is also an International Core Group member of Indigenous religion(s); the Co-Chair of the Indigenous Religious Traditions Group, American Academy of Religion; and an International Advisory Board Member for the Marginalised and Endangered Worldviews Study Center, University College Cork, Ireland. 

Assistant Professor Brad Stoddard

(Ph.D., Florida State University) teaches American religious history and the history of Christianity. His primary research interests include religion and law, religion and American prisons, and theory and method in the study of religion. 


Recent student–faculty research collaboration

Student Professor Topic
Alexandra Zimbicki Dr. Greg Alles Making Sense of Two Types of Possession, Benevolent and Malevolent Spirits, Contrasting Models
Mark Letsch Dr. Vera Jakoby The Entheological Paradigm in Buddhist Thought