Department of History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies

Programs of Study


Catholic Studies


The Catholic Studies minor gives students a chance to integrate their education and understand the different ways of knowing as different disciplines seek for truth. Students learn the fundamentals of Catholic scripture and tradition, as well as what they say about God, humanity, the natural world, virtuous living, and religious diversity. Catholic Studies minors also learn to engage ethical problems thoughtfully and actively, and contribute to the work of peace and justice.

The minor requirements include a Theology and a Philosophy course, plus four courses from the General Education distribution requirements; a 300-level Theology course; and participation in the Catholic Studies Learning Community for four semesters. As part of this learning community, which meets outside of regular class sessions, students attend various university events, enabling them to form a deep community with each other and with the faculty advisors.

Vatican Statues

Learn More
Click here to find out more about Catholic Studies at Benedictine!

Global Studies

major, minor

Global Studies is an interdisciplinary field that examines the forces that tie the world together. This involves analysis of the global connections of the past and careful attention to how these connections developed and changed over the centuries in response to economic and technological innovations. Recognizing pre-national, national, and post-national historical conditions, Global Studies focuses on the social, economic, cultural, and political processes that link disparate regions and localities to one another.

Global Studies students learn to apply disciplinary methodologies of analysis and research in global studies in their quantitative and qualitative dimensions. Perhaps more important, majors and minors alike learn how to live, work, and participate in the interrelated and interdependent world of the twenty-first century by gaining insight into the social, economic, historical, cultural and intellectual traditions that inform various regions of the globe. Students discover how to confront moral and ethical issues facing the global community, as well as how to think critically about the tension between globalizing forces and those that promote regional and cultural identity.

The program allows students to choose one of four areas of concentration: Latin American, American, Middle Eastern, or Mediterranean studies. Two lower-division courses introduce all Global Studies students (regardless of the chosen concentration) to the theoretical and research tools needed to pursue interdisciplinary global studies. In turn, a junior year seminar treats specific issues of global concern (e.g., poverty, AIDS, hunger, and global economics) and a senior capstone course allows majors to do guided research on a topic of interest. Because these courses enable Global Studies majors and minors to interact with peers studying different areas of concentration, a comparative approach is encouraged throughout the program.

Wall in Jordan

Learn More
Click here to find out more about the Global Studies program at Benedictine!


major, minor

History is the analysis and interpretation of the human past that enables us to study continuity and change over time. It is an act of both investigation and imagination that seeks to explain how people have changed over time. Historians use all forms of evidence to examine, interpret, and reinterpret the past. These include not just written documents, but also oral communication and objects such as buildings, artifacts, photographs, and paintings. Historians are trained in the methods of discovering and evaluating these sources, and the challenging task of making historical sense out of them. Nevertheless, historians do not always agree on interpretations of the past: their debates help expand and enhance our understanding of human development.

When you choose to study history at Benedictine, you will learn to acquire, understand and synthesize discipline-based knowledge through intensive work with primary sources. You will also examine and come to understand the dominant historiographical schools of thought, their development and change, as well as understand the trends and challenges facing the discipline and the historian's craft. And as a student of history, you will confront ethical and moral issues from our historical past, make connections to the contemporary moment, and gain insight into the historical interdependence of the United States with the rest of the world historically. In so doing, you will discover, in a broad way, the economic, social and political interdependence of nations historically and the implications for the future of a globalizing world.

Cannon at Valley Forge

Learn More
Click here to find out more about studying
History at Benedictine!

Interfaith Studies


The newest program in the Department of History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies, the Interfaith Studies certificate aims to help students of any major become interfaith leaders conversant in the theory and practice of interfaith engagement. Students pursuing the certificate in Interfaith Studies learn more about how the dialogue it fosters is related to various academic disciplines, students' future careers, and broader issues surrounding community, peace, and justice. A unique feature of the program is its Interfaith Oral History Archives (INQ 111) course requirement. In this one-semester, 0 credit, pass/fail, Engaged Learning course, students document the history of religiously diverse individuals by collecting and transcribing oral histories. Participants learn how to research and develop interview questions and establish rapport, as well as technical skills for recording, transcribing, and digitally publishing the histories.

In teaching students transferable skills and heightening their capacity to engage in interreligious dialogue, the certificate program will make graduates more attractive on the job market, given the diversity of Chicagoland and our country, as well as the need for religious sensitivity in any field.

interfaith dialogue

Learn More
Click here to find out more about the Interfaith Studies certificate program!


major, minor

It was Pythagoras who first invented the term "philosophy" ("love of wisdom"), observing that wisdom in the strictest sense belongs to God alone. For that reason, he wished not to be called a wise man, but simply a friend or lover of wisdom.

The academic discipline of philosophy trains the mind to think clearly, helping you to develop an interest in exploring ideas and questions you may have never previously even considered. Traditionally, it deals with the deepest and most enduring human questions concerning reality, knowledge, and language by approaching them through reason. It furthermore explores these central issues as they affect all thought, such as in relation to change and permanence, knowledge and belief, unity and diversity, and the meaning of goodness, value, truth, and beauty. Philosophical reflection and investigation also inquire into the assumptions and presuppositions that other academic disciplines take as axiomatic, or as "givens." At Benedictine, philosophy courses contain a strong measure of and commitment to the overall Catholic philosophical tradition; however, this commitment is always in relation to wider historical, general, and global philosophical trends.

Benedictine's philosophy program offers a student- and curriculum-friendly path to a double major, a special pre-law program for both majors and minors, and the opportunity to work closely with a knowledgeable and dedicated faculty. As a philosophy major, you will confront and attempt to resolve ethical and foundational issues, while learning how humanity's greatest thinkers have sought to understand global civilization. You will study the history of ideas, investigate ethical principles and their many contemporary applications, and explore classic questions regarding the nature of the human person and the structure and make-up of reality. In doing so, you'll gain new insight into a wide range of current issues, aesthetic experiences, and human affairs.


Learn More
Click here to find out more about studying Philosophy at Benedictine!

Religious Studies


Religious Studies represents an interdisciplinary approach that draws upon the arts, humanities, and social sciences in order to understand more fully the ways in which the religious has been and is manifest in human history and culture.

The study of our own tradition and of other religious traditions broadens us and makes us more human, more ready to have a conversation with another. When we enter the life-worlds of others, we become freer and larger morally. Culture builds on the past; history unfolds. It is important to remember that human experience is borne by culture—the life-forms of those who came before us can be carried into the "now" and into tomorrow. To engage in religious studies is to expand our horizons; it is part of a liberal education, if by "liberal" we mean free, liberated.

Students who minor in Religious Studies learn how different religions view humanity, the natural world, and the divine, as well as gain a better understanding of the diversity of viewpoints and practices in the contemporary world of religious pluralism. Perhaps most important, Religious Studies minors discover how they can engage ethical problems both thoughtfully and actively, while contributing to the work of peace and justice.


Learn More
Click here to find out more about the Religious Studies minor at Benedictine!


Social Science


Benedictine's major in Social Science provides students with a broad introduction to the various social sciences. It is designed for both teaching certificate candidates and those not interested in becoming teachers.

The courses in this program for students in the Teacher Education program were selected to meet the requirements of the Illinois State Board of Education for Social Studies teachers. The basic major for teachers consists of a 24-semester-credit-hour history field, covering both world and American history, a 9-semester-credit-hour political science field, and 3 semester credit hours each in anthropology, geography and sociology.

For students not pursuing teacher licensure, the general Social Science major consists of a 21-semester-credit-hour option in history, economics, political science, psychology, sociology, anthropology, or criminal justice, along with either an 18-semester-credit-hour option in another of the above fields, or two 9-semester-credit-hour options in two of the above fields.

East German sign

Learn More
Click here to find out more about the Social Science major at Benedictine!


major, minor, certificate

Theology literally means "talk about" or "knowledge of God." It is distinguished from religious studies in that its starting point is faith. In short, it is "faith seeking understanding," as St. Anselm famously put it.

College-level theology is a rigorous academic discipline which explores God and the God-human relationship in light of scripture, tradition, and reason, and as such is distinct from the kind of basic religious education a student might obtain in high school or at a parish. Theology students learn what Catholic scripture and tradition say about God, humanity, the natural world, religious diversity, virtue, and ethics, while also coming to understand the study of religion as an interdisciplinary task, relating to the arts and humanities on the one hand, and the social sciences on the other. Benedictine University is proud of its Catholic heritage, but we also welcome and respect the diverse faith traditions of our community. The theology program is designed especially for the lay person. And in addition to theology and religious studies courses which serve the intellectual needs of our students, University Ministry provides opportunities for Catholics to grow spiritually and to engage in interfaith dialogue and service projects with Hindus, Muslims, Jains, Sikhs, Jews, and other Christians on campus.

Benedictine's Theology program begins with a series of four thematic courses: Theology of Love, Theology of Freedom, Theology of Justice, and Faith and Science. These four core courses cover, to a greater or lesser extent, all aspects of the traditional areas of Catholic theology (scripture, systematic theology, sacramental theology, historical theology, and moral theology) and together comprise the basic Theology Certificate. Students who opt to major or minor in theology build on this foundation, choosing upper-level courses that suit their interests and career goals.


Learn More
Click here to find out more about studying Theology at Benedictine!