Theology and Religious Studies

Prepare for a career in theology and religious studies.

The study of theology and religion helps us to understand how faith relates to living together well. The Theology and Religious Studies Department believes that a major in Theology, the foundational discipline of the university in the West, provides a sound liberal arts education, enhances critical thinking, and invites a deeper analysis of contemporary issues facing religious communities and society.

Our major serves students well in earning a living and in enhancing their lives by growing in the love of truth. One reason to study theology at Bellarmine is the strength of our faculty. Our faculty is diverse and represents expertise in biblical studies, historical theology, systematic theology, world Christianity, theological ethics, Roman Catholic moral theology, and the history of Judaic thought. Most important, our faculty are interested and invested in student learning.

Rich Setting to Study Theology and Religion

The university and the city of Louisville offer ample opportunities for Roman Catholic, ecumenical, and interfaith dialogue and for the theological and spiritual growth of our students. Louisville is the seat of the Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville and the national center for the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. The Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary are both close to the Bellarmine campus. St. Meinrad School of Theology and Benedictine Abbey is also in the region. The Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption houses the Center for Interfaith Relations which sponsors the annual Festival of Faiths, a nationally recognized celebration of religious diversity and theological thought.

The Bellarmine Theology and Religious Studies Department sponsors annual Vernon Robertson lectures and other events aimed at bringing nationally and internationally recognized scholars or church leaders to the Louisville area. Vernon Robertson Lecturers include such distinguished scholars as Shawn Copeland, Gary Dorrien, Daniel Groody, Pamela Eisenbaum, Ursula King, Martin Laird, Peter Steinfels, and Christina Traina.

Our department is also invested in undergraduate student research and hosts an annual theology department essay contest. Award winning essays are published in a journal called Scholars in Writing.

Bellarmine University houses the International Thomas Merton Center, which maintains the complete collection of the writings and work of and about Thomas Merton and makes it available to visiting scholars. The Abbey at Gethsemani, where Merton lived and worked, is a short distance from Louisville. The Theology Department offers immersion learning experiences through Theology courses periodically held at the Abbey.

Bellarmine has a vibrant campus ministry which includes such groups as the Peer Group Ministers, the Catholic Students Association, Hillel, Muslim Students at Prayer, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and a number of interdenominational study groups. There are also a variety of student-led service opportunities and retreats such as: Go Make a Difference (with Habitat for Humanity); Alternative Spring Break (a week-long service retreat with the Christian Appalachian Project); BSL Retreat Series (a series of retreats done throughout the year along with the Campus Ministry Programs at the University of Louisville and Spalding University); and, the Gethsemani Retreat (a weekend retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Bardstown, KY).

A Program Focused on Academic Excellence

Faculty Mentored Undergraduate Research – All theology majors have the opportunity to complete research projects working one on one with full-time faculty members teaching in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies.

Examples of student projects completed independent studies include the following:

  • Rebecca Harping on "Restorative Justice: Learning from South Africa Post-Apartheid Initiatives" for an independent study under the guidance of Dr. Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty.
  • Clare Wolz on "Priestly Power Means Christian Weakness" for an independent study on Sin, Violence, and Human Nature under the guidance of Dr. Justin Klassen.

Many theology students submit their research to the annual theology essay contest. Award winning writing is published in Scholars in Writing: A Journal of Undergraduate Research.

Honors/Majors/Minors Classes –Theology majors have a special opportunity each semester to enroll in an Honors Theology class. Honors Theology classes are open to all is open to all students in Honors, regardless of majors and to theology majors and minor who meet the Honors requirements.

What is the benefit of these classes? These classes are seminar style, nurture critical thinking, and foster a higher level of theological debate and reflection. Most important, they are smaller by design, usually with fewer than 20 students, and are only taught by full-time faculty with terminal degrees in the field.

Examples of courses for the Honors program that are open to majors and minors meeting the Honors requirements include:

  • HNR 200 Ultimate Questions
  • HNR 302 Rome: Crossroads of Religions
  • THEO 336 Theology, Nature and Environmental Responsibility (for Honors, Majors and Minors)
  • THEO 441 Special Topics in Theology: End of Time (for Honors, Majors and Minors)

Academic Excellence – 96% of all theology classes offered at Bellarmine, for majors and for the General Education program, are taught by faculty with a terminal degree in the field.

Flexible Curriculum

Students who major in Theology are a diverse group with a variety of goals and interests. Some have definite career goals of service to the church and/or society; others are seeking God and a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives. Some are interested in religious education, others in justice oriented ministries, and still others see theology and spirituality as a complement to a career in psychology, education, social work, business, or nursing. Read about how this curriculum works well for double majors and allows for special emphases.

Department News

Learn more about what's happening in the Theology and Religious Studies Department's news page.

Career Opportunities


Full-Time Faculty
Deborah Prince, Ph.D (email) (Full Profile)
Hoon Choi, Ph.D, (email) (Full Profile)
Justin Klassen, Ph.D (email) (Full Profile)

Faculty Emeritus
Clyde Crews, Ph.D, University Historian and Archival Coordinator
J. Milburn Thompson, Ph.D (email)

Part-Time Faculty
William L. Becker (email
Roy Fuller (email
James Holladay (email
Isaac McDaniel (email
Ronald C. Oliver (email
David Orberson (email
Joseph Rapport (email
Melanie-Préjean Sullivan (email)
Gloria Thornburg (email)

Part-time faculty profiles

Learn more about Bellarmine University.
Provide your information below and we will be in touch.


Contact Information