Online Class: World Religions 101

Learn about the founders, the history and essential teachings of each of these major religions: Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, and Taoism, plus brief descriptions of other religions and religious practices.

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Course Description

Journey through World Religions

In an ever-globalizing world, understanding the cultural tapestries that unite and diversify humanity has never been more pertinent. At the heart of these cultural distinctions and commonalities are the world religions, each bearing its own history, philosophy, and influence on humanity's collective story. World Religions 101 is your passport to an enlightening exploration of these profound systems of belief and their immeasurable impacts on today's global events.

Dive deep into the intricacies of beliefs and philosophies, ranging from the familiar tenets of major religions to the esoteric traditions of lesser-known faiths. Delve into the depths of karma, unearth the tranquility in nirvana, balance the duality of yin and yang, and fathom the mysteries of the Holy Trinity.

Religion is often perceived primarily as a system of faith, manifesting through prayer, worship, and a commitment to a higher power. However, as you journey through this course, you'll discover that many religions transcend mere belief in a deity. They encompass an all-encompassing philosophy, a code of ethics, and a way of life that influences decisions, both monumental and mundane.

Course Highlights:

  • Foundational Knowledge: Learn about the central figures, epoch-making events, and fundamental teachings that constitute major religions like Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, and Taoism.

  • Diverse Spiritual Explorations: Dive into an array of beliefs and practices across various cultures and timelines. Grasp the essence of religious experiences, from the fervent prayer sessions in a mosque to the meditative rituals in Buddhist monasteries.

  • Inclusive Learning: This course is not limited to just major religions. It expands its horizon by including brief yet insightful descriptions of other spiritual practices and religious movements, ensuring a holistic appreciation of global faith practices.

Course Breakdown:

  1. An Introduction to the Religious Experience: Initiate your journey by understanding the essence of spiritual experiences and their universal appeal across different religions.

  2. Buddhism: Step into the world of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Discover the life of Siddhartha Gautama and the essence of Buddhist teachings.

  3. Christianity: Explore the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, the significance of the Bible, and the diverse denominations within Christianity.

  4. Confucianism: Understand the teachings of Confucius, a philosophy that has shaped East Asian societies with its focus on ethics, family, and societal harmony.

  5. Hinduism: Delve into the world's oldest religion, its sacred scriptures, multitude of gods and goddesses, and its profound philosophical schools.

  6. Islam: Understand the pillars of Islam, the significance of the Quran, and the life of Prophet Muhammad.

  7. Judaism: Trace the history of the Jewish people, their sacred texts, and the core beliefs and traditions of Judaism.

  8. Taoism: Embark on a journey through Taoist philosophies, the significance of Tao Te Ching, and its influence on Chinese culture and beyond.

  9. Other Religions and Religious Movements: Venture beyond the mainstream and explore an array of diverse spiritual practices that have shaped communities and cultures worldwide.

Why World Religions 101?

Religions, with their intricate ceremonies, sacred texts, and profound philosophies, are more than just systems of belief. They are repositories of millennia-old wisdom, narratives of human experiences, and mirrors reflecting the moral and ethical standards of societies.

By enrolling in this self-paced course, you not only enhance your understanding of global spiritual practices but also foster a sense of respect and appreciation for the myriad ways humans seek purpose, solace, and understanding in this vast universe.

Step into this enlightening journey and appreciate the multifaceted mosaic of human belief and spirituality. All are welcome in this odyssey of understanding and discovery.

Course Motivation

In our modern, secular Western society, where it seems as though more and more emphasis is placed on objective knowledge and empirical (scientific) forms of understanding the world, some may not have had an opportunity to examine the very nature of religion itself. Since this concept is basic to understanding the other ideas presented later in this course, the idea of religion and its nature will be examined here before proceeding on to present the major religions of the world.

Definitions of Terms: Philosophy, Religion, and World View

There are three key terms that will be introduced and used throughout this course, namely: philosophy, religion, and world view. These concepts are valuable conceptual frameworks by which each of the world's religions can be better examined and understood. Therefore, it is important to understand rudimentary definitions of each, how they are alike, and how they differ from each other, before continuing.

The word philosophy is derived from the combination of two Greek root words philos (meaning love) and Sophia (meaning wisdom). Thus, the term literally means "the love of wisdom". This definition, though literally correct, lacks something to be desired. What, after all, is wisdom? According to the ancient Greeks, wisdom deals with virtue, the quest for true knowledge and understanding, and the elimination of all false opinions.
If this still seems a bit esoteric or confusing, then perhaps a more straightforward definition is in order. Put another way, philosophy is a field of study in which people question, and create theories about, the nature of reality. Overall, it boils down to one essential question, "What is reality?" Philosophy is humankind's attempt to answer this question and to gain a better understanding of the Universe in which we live and how that universe can best be known and understood (if at all). The traditions of the Eastern world and the Western world are quite different in their theories of the nature of the world and how it functions. This fundamental difference in viewpoint makes this a major division in philosophical thought.

Course Structure

Bearing these definitions in mind, then, each of the religions in this course (with the exception of the brief entries in Lesson 9), will follow a standardized format in order to provide a more uniform examination of each. This format is as follows:

A short introduction explaining the current influence of the religion in the world. 
This section will contain abbreviated information on the historical development of the religion. Information contained here will include prominent figures, movements, and ideas, which led to the formation and shaped the practice of the belief system in question.
Tenets of Belief 
The underlying philosophies and guiding principles that are major features of the religion. In short, the essence of the religion or philosophy is examined in this section.

Symbols and Holy Writ 

The iconic symbols and holy texts (scriptures), if applicable, will be examined in this section.

Daily Practice 

The way in which adherents of the faith in question go about their daily lives as practitioners of the religion or philosophy.
Branches, Divisions, and Variations
Often times, the various religious traditions will have a number of sub-religions or denominational differences in the way the belief system is approached or practiced. This section will highlight some of the more prominent differences within the religion at hand.
This course will examine each of the following religious traditions in alphabetical order, and then, using the structure presented here: Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Taoism. The final lesson of this course will examine several additional, albeit lesser religious movements currently practiced in the world. Those religions will also be presented in alphabetical order and will follow a similar, but highly abbreviated, version of the format used for the major belief systems.

World Religions 101: Insight into Spiritual Philosophies

In our intricately intertwined global society, religion remains a driving force behind numerous cultural, societal, and political actions. Whether it is the celebration of diverse festivals, guiding life philosophies, or geopolitical events, the imprints of religion are unmistakable. "World Religions 101" is your gateway to uncovering the multifaceted tapestry of religious beliefs that have sculpted our world.

Course Rationale: At its core, religion isn’t merely a conduit to the divine. It encapsulates millennia of history, traditions, philosophies, and lifestyles. As many of us associate religion with rituals, deities, and sacred scriptures, this course goes beyond these notions. It emphasizes religion as an evolving entity, mirroring societal transformations, ethical standpoints, and intricate human emotions.

A rudimentary glance at global news reveals that religious beliefs and practices are frequently at the foreground. Consequently, understanding these beliefs not only promotes harmony and inclusivity but also fosters a well-rounded global perspective.

Course Highlights:

  1. Foundations of Religion: Unearth the intrinsic human yearning for spirituality. Discover concepts like karma, nirvana, yin and yang, and the Holy Trinity.

  2. Buddhism: Delve into the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, and the life of Siddhartha Gautama.

  3. Christianity: Explore the teachings of Jesus Christ, the significance of the Holy Bible, and the spread of Christianity.

  4. Confucianism: Understand the teachings of Confucius, emphasizing familial respect, ethical integrity, and societal harmony.

  5. Hinduism: Immerse in the world of deities, scriptures, and the cyclical nature of life and rebirth.

  6. Islam: Learn about Prophet Muhammad, the Five Pillars, and the Quran's essence.

  7. Judaism: Delve into the Torah, the traditions, and the history of the Jewish people.

  8. Taoism: Understand the principles of natural order, the Tao, and the balance of Yin and Yang.

  9. Lesser-Known Religions: Venture into diverse spiritual paths and practices beyond mainstream doctrines.

Assessments and Interactions: Each lesson culminates in activities and assessments to gauge understanding. Secure a score of 70% or higher to excel. Engage in enriching discussions with peers and directly connect with instructors via email for personalized guidance.

Why Choose This Course? World Religions 101 offers:

  • Flexibility: Navigate this self-paced course from your home, aligning with your schedule.

  • Inclusivity: Irrespective of your prior knowledge, the course welcomes all with a high school reading level and a zest for learning.

  • Comprehensive Resources: Lessons are exhaustive and enriched with external web links for a holistic learning experience.

Conclusion: In the current global milieu, characterized by diversity and interconnectedness, understanding religious underpinnings is pivotal. This isn't merely academic. It's about nurturing respect, promoting dialogue, and cultivating global harmony.

By embracing World Religions 101, you’re not just gaining knowledge. You're fostering empathy, broadening perspectives, and enhancing societal harmony. You're preparing to navigate our diverse world with understanding and respect.

So, why wait? Enroll in World Religions 101 today and commence a journey of spiritual enlightenment and global understanding.

  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • Printable Lessons
  • Full HD Video  
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
4.6 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(1,463 votes)

Lesson 1. An Introduction to the Religious Experience

In this first lesson we will introduce the many different religions of the world by first defining the terms of philosophy, worldview, and religion. Additional lesson topics: Secular Humanism; Liberal Believers; Religion and Identity; World Religions 130 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video A
  • Lesson 1 Video B : Introduction Discussion
  • Lesson discussions: World Religions (a); World Religions (b); Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete: Lesson 1 Assignment: Introduce Yourself
  • Complete Assignment: Differing views of the New and Old Testament
  • Complete Assignment: Why do Humans have Religion?
  • Assessment: Lesson 1 Quiz: Introduction to World Religions

Lesson 2: Buddhism

This lesson will focus on the religion of Buddhism. Topics will include the history, the tenets and beliefs, the symbols, daily practice, and branches of Buddhism. 80 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video A
  • Lesson 2 Video B : Lesson Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 2: Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: Is Buddhism Relevant Today?
  • Assessment: Lesson 2 Quiz: Buddhism

Lesson 3. Christianity

This lesson will focus on the religion of Christianity. Topics will include the history, the tenets and beliefs, the symbols, daily practice, and branches of Christianity (due in part to the Protestant Reformation). Additional lesson topics: History of Christianity 78 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video A
  • Lesson 3 Video B : Lesson Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 3: Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: Protestant Reformation
  • Assessment: Lesson 3 Quiz: Christianity

Lesson 4. Confucianism

This lesson will focus on the religion and philosophy of Confucianism. Topics will include the history, the tenets and beliefs, the symbols, daily practice, and branches of Confucianism. 58 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video A
  • Lesson 4 Video B : Lesson Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 4: Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: Is Confucianism a Religion?
  • Assessment: Lesson 4 Quiz: Confucianism

Lesson 5. Hinduism

This lesson will focus on the religion and philosophy of Hinduism. Topics will include the history, the tenets and beliefs, the symbols, daily practice, and branches of Hinduism. 60 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video A
  • Lesson 5 Video B : Lesson Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 5: Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: Is Hinduism Growing?
  • Assessment: Lesson 5 Quiz: Hinduism

Lesson 6. Islam

This lesson will focus on the religion of Islam. Topics will include the history, the tenets and beliefs, the symbols, daily practice, and branches of Islam. 110 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video A
  • Lesson 6 Video B : Lesson Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 6: Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: Muslim Growth
  • Assessment: Lesson 6 Quiz: Islam

Lesson 7. Judaism

This lesson will focus on the religion of Judaism. Topics will include the history, the tenets and beliefs, the symbols, daily practice, and branches of Judaism. Additional lesson topics: Jews come to America 80 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video A
  • Lesson 7 Video B : Lesson Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 7: Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: Differences between Judaism and Christianity
  • Assessment: Lesson 7 Quiz: Judaism

Lesson 8. Taoism

This lesson will focus on the religion of Taoism. Topics will include the history, the tenets and beliefs, the symbols, daily practice, and branches of Taoism. Additional lesson topics: Taoist Life 60 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video A
  • Lesson 8 Video B : Lesson Discussion
  • Complete: Lesson 8: Assignment
  • Complete Assignment: What is up with Taoism?
  • Assessment: Lesson 8 Quiz: Taoism

Lesson 9. Other Religions and Religious Movements

This lesson will focus other religions that play a role in the world today. Additional lesson topics: Baha'I; New Age Religions 38 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video A
  • Lesson 9 Video B : Lesson Discussion
  • Lesson discussions: Course Completion Poll: Your Thoughts; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course); Course Comments
  • Complete Assignment: What is Wicca?
  • Assessment: Lesson 9 Quiz: Other Religions & Religious Movements
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Summarize Buddhism.
  • Summarize Christianity.
  • Summarize Confucianism.
  • Summarize Hinduism.
  • Summarize Islam.
  • Summarize Judaism.
  • Summarize Taoism.
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
  • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
  • Earn an Official Certificate Documenting Course Hours and CEUs
  • Verify Your Certificate with a Unique Serial Number Online
  • View and Share Your Certificate Online or Download/Print as PDF
  • Display Your Certificate on Your Resume and Promote Your Achievements Using Social Media
Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: World Religions 101
Course Number: 7550450
Lessons Rating: 4.6 / 5 Stars (1,463 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Availability: This course is online and available in all 50 states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.
Last Updated: December 2023
Course Type: Self-Paced, Online Class
CEU Value: 0.9 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Course Fee: $120.00 U.S. dollars

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Student Testimonials

  • "I have long wanted to learn and better understand world religions and how they have progressed to modern day and how it has related to man and his societies. I feel I got that from this course...but more over...I felt that Mac had done an excellent job in helping me understand all faiths and how they actually have similarities and their differences and why. I feel I got more out of this course then I had intended. Great job guys." -- Michael M.
  • "This course was great fun for me, and gave me a chance to be a student again for a while and to learn a great deal. Professor McKenna was very knowledgeable, approachable and fair, and has a great sense of humor!" -- Kate D.
  • "The instructor is very dedicated to his classroom studies. He provides additional videos that he produces for each lesson. I always enjoy taking his courses and always learn a lot from his videos and the assignments for each lesson." -- Louise S.
  • "I have said many times that I like learning with this instructor. He is challenging while also approachable. Our interactions are thought provoking and interesting." -- Theresa B.
  • "He is very personable and I enjoyed conversing with him about the different subjects of the course." -- Marshall G.
  • "He is really great and glad he teaches so much. He is so informational." -- Anna D.
  • "A very good delivery and execution. I learned a lot in this class." -- Jessie D.
  • "The course and instructor were both great." -- Shari G.
  • "Thanks for making this kind of course work available to those of us at home." -- Margaret T.
  • "The course layout was very rganized. The requirements for each lesson were very clear and detailed. The assignments were relevant to add useful information to one's everyday knowledge. Thanks...." -- Margaret T.