Quick Facts

  • Mercyhurst offers both a major and a minor in Religious Studies. The program is designed to provide students broad exposure to a range of religious traditions and approaches to studying religions. Students graduating with a degree in Religious Studies will possess the skills and knowledge to understand religious traditions and themes which motivate human action and thinking. Such skills are vital in a global and interconnected workforce.
  • Honoring our Roman Catholic heritage, we also encouraging an attitude of broad interfaith openness in conjunction with rigorous scholarship. In keeping with our rich Mercy tradition, we are committed to fostering an awareness of issues of justice that emerge within religious traditions and our global society. Religious Studies courses are divided in to three broad areas: Biblical-Historical Studies, Comparative-Cultural Studies, and Theological-Ethical Studies.                                                                                                    
  • All Religious Studies majors complete a Senior Capstone Course designed to empower students to apply their skills in addressing difficult and complex subjects. Recent Senior Capstone courses have focused on “Religion and Violence” and “Religion and Sexual Ethics.” Here students learn to create their own research projects and present their findings in a public setting.
  • All Religious Studies majors and minors interact extensively with full time faculty. Faculty members in Religious Studies are active scholars, teachers, and leaders at Mercyhurst University, in the community, and in the larger academy. Religious Studies faculty are active participants in the University’s study abroad program, providing opportunities for students to carry the study of religion well beyond the Erie campus.
  • The Religious Studies department encourages students to choose a double major, allowing them to cultivate a rich, well-rounded education that allows them to build technical, critical, and creative skills, preparing them for a wide variety of career options upon graduation. Religious Studies majors often take majors in English, Social Work, Intelligence Studies, Sociology, Philosophy, and Political Science. Other students have chosen a minor to complement degrees in Biology, Mathematics, Dance, and a variety of other programs.
  • Degrees in Religious Studies prepare students to become critical thinkers, careful readers, and strong writers – skills that employers seek in any profession. Our students often pursue graduate studies in Religion, Counseling, Social Work, Political Science, Nursing, and Non-Profit Administration. Our graduates work in diverse settings for a broad range of non-profit organizations, ministry organizations, high schools, and corporations. The critical and fundamental academic skills our students learn at Mercyhurst contribute to their success in all areas of their lives.

  • The Catholic Studies minor is available through the Center for Mercy and Catholic Studies. This minor offers students opportunities for rich engagement with the Catholic intellectual tradition.


  • Dr. McFee is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and the chair of the department. He is the co-founder and co-director of the Evelyn Lincoln Institute for Ethics and Society, hosting academic roundtables and major keynote speakers, engaging in cross-disciplinary faculty collaboration, developing student academic fellowships, and being available for the media and community outreach.
  • Dr. Hembrow Snyder is Professor of Religious Studies. She has won a Mercyhurst University Teaching Award and a Catholic Press Association Award (2001) for her book, Spiritual Questions for the 21st Century: Essays in Honor of Joan D. Chittister. She serves as the first Endowed Chair at Mercyhurst University as Director of the Center for Mercy and Catholic Studies.
  • Dr. Forsthoefel is Professor of Religious Studies. He was Poet Laureate of Erie County (2010-2012); he was also featured in the award winning documentary, Dalai Lama Renaissance (Wakan Films, 2007).
  • Dr. von Thaden, Jr., is Associate Professor of Religious Studies. He won the 2008 Society of Biblical Literature Regional Scholar Award and published his first book, Sex, Christ and Embodied Cognition: Paul’s Wisdom for Corinth in 2012. He is currently Vice President of the Mercyhurst University Faculty Senate.
  • Dr. Ehret is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies. She is the Regional Coordinator for the Eastern International Region of the American Academy of Religion and faculty adviser for Theta Alpha Kappa, the National Religious Studies Honors Society.
  • Dr. McCarty is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies. He was a Carpenter Fellow for the Religion and Sexuality Symposiums held at Emory University. (2010) and San Francisco (2011). He is a frequent lecturer and media consultant in the area of sexual ethics.
  • Mr. Montevecchio is Instructor of Religious Studies. He is ABD at Duquesne University in Catholic Systematic Theology and actively engaged in scholarship on religion and film.


Cummings Gallery
Art Faculty Show

Dates: Aug 21-Sep 28, 2014

Location: Cummings Gallery

William Close and The Earth Harp Collective
William Close and The Earth Harp Collective

Dates: Sep 5

Location: Mary D'Angelo Performing Arts Center

Anais Mitchell
Anaïs Mitchell

Dates: Sep 30

Location: Erie Art Museum