Dig Deeper, Go Farther!
Now more than ever, the world needs men and women who combine vibrant faith in Christ with a commitment to academic excellence. Samford’s Department of Biblical and Religious Studies is here to help you do just that.
You’ll dig deeper into the Bible, theology, church history and ministry than you ever thought possible. Along the way, you’ll consider the way Christianity interacts with sociology, philosophy, and the many different religions that shape our world. You’ll get to explore challenging questions in a community of faculty and students who seek to love God with all their hearts and all their minds.
It was in this community of scholars and practitioners that I learned to think critically, to read scripture closely and to draw connections between scholarly theory and the everyday life of faith. The faculty invested in me, and other students, in a profound way—naming our gifts, honing our skills and nurturing our sense of calling. It was transformational! The Rev. Meg Lacy Vega, Associate Pastor, Tabernacle Baptist Church, Richmond, Va.
You’ll also lay a foundation for a lifetime of discipleship and service. You can tailor your program to focus on preparation for ministry by emphasizing courses in subjects like preaching, missions, and pastoral care and taking advantage of our many internship opportunities. You can design your program to prepare for further study in seminary or grad school by taking courses in Bible, theology, and history, by studying Hebrew and Greek, attending the Holley-Hull and Robbins guest lectures and even by spending a month learning to be an archaeologist in the land where Jesus lived.
Due to the incredible generosity of the department, I was able to spend three weeks in Israel, complete an independent research project with my adviser over the summer, schedule and attend special events meant to discuss students’ questions about the intersection between faith and reason, and participate in a small, fast-paced Hebrew tutorial that has set the foundation for my future studies in seminary. Even greater than all of these gifts, however, was the relationships I was able to develop with wise, selfless, and godly professors that will guide me for years to come.Jonathan Punt, '19
Preparing for Your Calling
Whether your calling is to be a pastor, preacher, missionary, youth worker, educator, academic, social worker, or community leader, the Department of Biblical and Religious Studies is the place where you can combine the best of rigorous Christian scholarship with a commitment to transformative ministry preparation.
The study of religion prepares students to succeed in many professions. Our graduates thrive as ministers, missionaries, scholars, social workers, lawyers, doctors, and preachers. In the 36 hours required for the major, students explore the Bible and Christian theology, as well as the history, sociology, and philosophy of religion. Courses examine not only the Christian tradition in which Samford is rooted, but also the many different religions that shape our world. Our Preministerial Scholars program offers co-curricular discussions and internships to prepare students for ministry. Religion majors are also eligible to participate in a fast track option for the master’s degree in social work. Students majoring in biblical studies, religion or religion with a concentration in ministry leadership, and who are called to ministry can apply for Samford's accelerated B.A.-to-M.Div. program. If accepted, they can earn both degrees in six years rather than the typical seven. Our department also coordinates the Samford Sunday program, which matches student preachers with churches in the region.
Seminary and Graduate School Placement
Many Samford biblical and religious studies students go on to earn advanced degrees from a host of prestigious national and international institutions. Among other places, recent graduates have been accepted to pursue further study at Asbury Theological Seminary, Beeson Divinity School (Samford University), Candler School of Theology (Emory University), Duke Divinity School (Duke University), Fuller Theological Seminary, George W. Truett Theological Seminary (Baylor University), Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, McAfee School of Theology (Mercer University), Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Oxford University, Princeton Theological Seminary, The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, The University of Aberdeen, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Wake Forest University and Wake Forest University School of Divinity, Wesley Theological Seminary, Yale Divinity School.
About the Department of Biblical and Religious Studies
We are dedicated to serious scholarship rooted in faith. We are devoted to the great tradition of Christian orthodoxy enriched by multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research.
We seek to model the integration of a vibrant faith in Christ with a commitment to pursuing academic excellence in the highest tradition of Christian scholarship in the teaching of biblical studies, Christian theology and ministry, as well as the history, sociology, and philosophy of religion.
We believe that the future of leadership in Christian ministry, theological education, and cultural engagement in all spheres of life depends upon women and men being equipped with the necessary tools and foundations to understand how faith informs and transforms every endeavor to which one might be called.
We are driven by the conviction that serious academic work in religious studies, informed by the richness of the Christian intellectual and moral tradition, prepares students for leadership in many kinds of careers, and equips them to play transformative roles in whatever context they may find themselves.
Students are mentored by faculty members who are experts in their fields and passionate about their work. At graduation they are prepared to take positions of leadership in missions and ministry roles as well as other transformative callings, or to pursue further education in seminary or graduate school with a view to a career in religious and theological education.
Faculty Engagement in Mission and Ministry
Faculty members bring extensive ministry and cross-cultural experience to their teaching and mentoring of students. Two members of the department are pastors of Birmingham churches. Between them, department faculty members have over 70 years of ministry and missionary experience and they have preached, presented, taught, or ministered in Angola, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, El Salvador, England, France, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Malaysia, Namibia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, the Vatican, Vietnam and Wales.
Theta Alpha Kappa Honor Society
Samford students may be inducted into the Alpha Iota Epsilon chapter of Theta Alpha Kappa, the National Honor Society for religion and theology. Since the induction of its first class of members in 2008, Samford’s chapter of TAK has played a vital role in helping students integrate the academic study of religion with a commitment to faith. This commitment continues today through TAK’s hosting of various academic lectures and especially its sponsorship of Christian Faith and Critical Thought Colloquia in the fall and spring of each academic year. To qualify for membership in Theta Alpha Kappa, students must have completed a minimum of twelve semester hours in religion courses (RELG or UCBP), while maintaining a 3.65 GPA in those courses. Additionally, students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher in their total academic program and must rank in the top 35% of their class at the time of induction. Students’ academic records are reviewed on an annual basis to determine their eligibility for membership in TAK. Students who believe they may have met the qualifications for entry into TAK or who are interested in learning more about Samford’s TAK chapter may contact the chapter’s faculty moderator, Rony Kozman.
We are privileged to give seven awards at the end of each academic year.
Herman Ross Arnold Award
The Herman Ross Arnold Award is endowed in memory of this Baptist minister, who served in Alabama for fifty-three years. It is given to the graduating ministerial students who, in the opinion of department faculty and students, have best exemplified Christian humility and unselfish service and have best applied to the improvement of the mind. Since 2004 it is typically given to two students a year.
Community of Scholars Award
The Community of Scholars Award is given each year to a student who has made significant contributions to the development of scholarly community within the Department of Biblical and Religious Studies. It is typically given to a junior. In the spring of odd-numbered years, this takes the form of the Theta Alpha Kappa Undergraduate Achievement Award. This award was first given in 2009.
The Cowley award is named for former missionary and religious education professor William Cowley. It is given to a student demonstrating excellence in scholarship, leadership, and commitment to ministry.
Vernon Davison Award
The Vernon Davison Award is endowed in honor of former professor Dr. Vernon C. Davison and is given by department faculty for excellence in Biblical languages. This award is given to a student who has completed at least four semesters of Biblical languages, has excelled in those courses, and has given evidence that his or her knowledge of Biblical languages will contribute to the effectiveness of his or her entire Christian ministry.
Samford Sunday Award
The Samford Sunday Award is given in gratitude to the student director or directors who oversee the Samford Sunday preaching program. Directors network with Alabama churches and coordinate Sunday preaching opportunities for Samford students. This program was inaugurated in 1948 by Samford ministerial students, and it celebrates ongoing relationships between the university, the Alabama Baptist Convention, and churches from other denominations. Directors play a vital role in representing the department and the university to our wider constituents in local churches. This award was instituted in 2013.
This endowed award is made annually to graduating seniors who are preparing for a church-related vocation and who have demonstrated both performance and promise. It is given to students who have shown initiative, compassion, and who have been involved in a Baptist church. It is typically given to two students a year.
Carlton F. Whirley Award
The Carlton F. Whirley award is given to the graduating senior who has already committed himself or herself to a career in missions, who in his or her life as a college student has demonstrated commitment to missions, and who through his or her school work has expressed commitment to learning. Three areas in the student’s life are embraced in these qualifications: scholarship, the practice of missions here and now, and commitment to a career in missions in the future. These qualifications reflect the life of Dr. Carlton F. Whirley, who for 33 years served faithfully as a Southern Baptist missionary to Nigeria.