Claremont McKenna College is a private liberal arts college located in Claremont, California, 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. The college has top-tier students and a serious commitment to scholarship.
Scholarly Community: One of the most attractive things about teaching Religious Studies at Claremont McKenna College is that it is part of an Intercollegiate Program.
The major in Religious Studies is a cooperative program offered jointly by Pomona, Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, Scripps and Harvey Mudd colleges. Most undergraduate professors in Religious Studies are elected to be faculty of Claremont Graduate University, whose graduate programs in Religion are internationally known, and whose students often populate undergraduate courses. All of these colleges are physically contiguous, so your colleagues at other colleges are at most a five-minute walk away. Effectively, then, each of us has dozens of colleagues in religious studies within the greater Claremont community, thus combining the faculty size of a large research university with the intimacy of a small liberal-arts college.
The Religious Studies program of study is designed to serve both as one focus of a liberal arts education and as a pre-professional foundation for students planning to pursue the study of religion beyond the baccalaureate degree. Students may enroll in Religious Studies courses offered at any of the undergraduate colleges, and advanced students may, with permission, enroll in master's-level courses in their area of specialization at Claremont Graduate University. While offering a broadly based and inclusive program in the study of religion for all liberal arts students, the Religious Studies major affords the opportunity for more specialized work at the intermediate and advanced levels in particular historic religious traditions, geographical areas, philosophical and critical approaches, and thematic and comparative studies.
The program in Religious Studies recognizes the importance and legitimacy of personal involvement in the study of religion, but it does not represent or advocate any particular religion as normative. Rather, our aim is to make possible an informed knowledge and awareness of the fundamental importance of the religious dimension in all human societies--Eastern and Western, ancient and modern. In addition to preparing students for graduate study in religion or the ministry, the multidisciplinary nature of the major affords students intellectual training to enter a variety of fields and careers. Recent graduates are, for example, in schools of law, medicine, and business administration. Others have careers in management, journalism and the media, college administration, primary and secondary education, government, and health and social services.
Religious Studies at Claremont McKenna College benefits from a rich interest in the discipline in the Claremont community, and students and faculty have access to a number of talks, lectures, and discussions at the Claremont colleges and surrounding areas.
Scholarship: Both the College and the Department of philosophy are committed to serious scholarship. You can get an idea of our research interests and publication records by looking at the faculty page. Our tenure standards are rigorous, but not so overwhelming that they prevent our faculty from having a serious focus on teaching.
Teaching: At Claremont McKenna, faculty are given the opportunity to seriously engage with their students. The teaching load is 2-2, courses are almost always capped at 19, and many classes are even smaller. Our students are among the best in the nation. 84% are in the top 10% of their graduating class, and their median SAT scores are 1400.
Location: The town of Claremont is close to downtown Los Angeles but far enough east that it doesn't suffer from the problems (e.g., traffic problems) of a large city. Claremont itself is a pleasant college town. The thing people like least is the smog and accompanying heat, which for about a month each summer reaches the 100's. (Though without humidity.) The town has plenty of benefits that compensate for the heat. You enjoy the ability to travel to Los Angeles for major cultural sites such as the many Los Angeles art museums, the philharmonic, and the Los Angeles Opera. The town is also good for people who love the outdoors, since we are situated at the base of a 10,000 foot mountain with wonderful hiking. The best thing about the location may be the almost-constant California sunshine.