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Offered: On Campus Apply

The department of religion is a learning community committed to the church and to the academy, dedicated to the study of Scripture, theology, mission, leadership, and spirituality for the purpose of transforming individuals, relationships and communities.

The department of religion houses both the biblical studies and leadership studies disciplines as part of the college, and serves both undergraduate and graduate programs within professional studies. The curriculum for the religion major is administered through concentrations in biblical studies, Christian formation and discipleship, intercultural studies, pastoral leadership studies, and youth leadership studies. In addition, an option in general Christian studies allows students to choose any religion electives for the major without having to select a particular concentration.

Bachelor of Arts in Religion: Biblical Studies Concentration

In addition to the religion core requirements, this concentration will give students a foundation in beginning Greek and Hebrew Studies.

Bachelor of Arts in Religion: Christian Formation and Discipleship Studies Concentration

In addition to the religion core requirements, this concentration will include courses such as Christian Formation of Children, an Introduction to Youth Ministry, and Adult Formation and Discipleship.

Bachelor of Arts in Religion: Intercultural Studies Concentration

The Intercultural Studies concentration will give students a foundation in intercultural communication, integrative field studies, and current issues in mission studies.

Bachelor of Arts in Religion: Pastoral Leadership Studies

The pastoral leadership studies concentration focuses on courses such as Narrative and Expository Preaching, Management in Christian Organizations, and Pastoral Care and Counseling.

Bachelor of Arts in Religion: Youth Leadership Studies

The youth leadership studies concentration focuses on courses such as Introduction to Youth Ministry, Narrative and Expository Preaching, and Management in Christian Organizations.

Bachelor of Arts in Religion: General Christian Studies

This concentration consists of a mix of religion electives along with Old Testament and New Testament electives.

Religion Minor

Students in other majors can earn a minor in religion (no emphasis) by completing a minimum of 20 units of course work that is housed within the department of religion.

Religion courses taken as part of the university core curriculum requirement may be applied to meet minor requirements. Transfer units from other institutions are not accepted toward the religion minor.

Ministerial Credentials

Assemblies of God Minsterial Credentials

Ministerial Internship Program and Practica

The Department of Religion is committed to provide field education experiences that integrate conceptual aspects of ministry with the practice of ministry in local churches, hospitals, mission opportunities, inner-city ministries, and other parachurch organizations. Goals for field education include spiritual formation, mentoring relationships, theological reflection, and specific training in ministry skills that provide the framework for such integration.

I love being a religion major. I love the classes; I love the professors; I love what I get to learn in this program.

Samantha Pena, '19
Religion major


West Coast Science
Western Association of Schools & Colleges
Awesome Biology
Assemblies of God
Awesome Biology
Council for Christian Colleges & Universities


VU Alum Runs Drive-Thru Ministry
Vanguard University

Perry Hamilton (’83 with a Bachelor’s degree in Educational Ministry), outreach pastor at Mission Hills Church in Mission Viejo and Vanguard University’s Alumni Board member, is featured a rather intriguing story in the OC Register

A Sampling of Religion Courses

PLST 440

Pastoral Care and Counseling

Pastoral Care and Counseling

The application of counseling and guidance principles to the work of the pastor and other religious workers in the field of pastoral care, including the use of case studies in ministering to persons with illness, grief, home, youth, or other types of special problems.

MILD 365

A Theology of Church Mission

A Theology of Church Mission

A theological understanding of the ministry of the church and its mission to the world.

PLST 420

Disciplines of the Spiritual Life

Disciplines of the Spiritual Life

A study of the biblical and theological foundations of spirituality within the Pentecostal/charismatic tradition. The emphasis will be on building a functioning spiritual life by the exercise of spiritual disciplines such as prayer, worship, community, fasting, and other disciplines. Core requirement for the religion major offered every fall.

Meet Our Faculty & Staff

Gregory Austring, Ph.D.

Professor of Intercultural Studies, Religion and Ethics, Chair of General Education, School for Professional Studies

Areas of Specialization: Cross-cultural adaptation, worldview and culture as they relate to ethics and religion

Tommy Casarez, Ph.D.

Chair, Department of Religion, Assistant Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology

Areas of Specialization: Church History, Systematic Theology, Theological Ethics

Roli Dela Cruz, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of New Testatment

Areas of Specialization: New Testament Theology and Text Criticism, Patristics and Christian Doctrine

Willem Dogterom, D.Min.

Professor of Pastoral Ministries and Spiritual Formation, Chair, Professional Studies, Religion

Areas of Specialization: Pastoral Ministry, Spirituality, and Practical Theology. Particular interest in Spiritual Formation for lifetime ministry regardless of vocation

Roger Heuser, Ph.D.

Professor of Leadership Studies

Areas of Specialization: Leadership, spirituality, and mission in a global context

Professor Heuser teaches a variety of religion courses in graduate and undergraduate programs. He is a consultant and retreat facilitator for congregations, nonprofits, and mission agencies as well as an adjunct professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Northwest University, and other programs in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Before beginning his teaching career, Roger served as a pastor for twelve years in the Chicago area.

Roger co-authored with Norman Shawchuck the newly revised edition of Leading the Congregation: Caring for Yourself While Serving the People (2010, 1993), and Managing the Congregation: Building Effective Systems to Serve the People (1996), both published by Abingdon Press. Other publications include Leadership and Team Building, and Caregiving Leadership, both published by CMR Resources. Roger also serves as a consultant editor of the peer-reviewed journal, Transformation: An International Dialogue on Mission and Ethics.

Alicia Jackson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Old Testament

Areas of Specialization: Old Testament Prophets, Eschatology, Ezekiel

Frank Macchia, D.Theol.

Professor of Theology, Editor, PNEUMA: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies

Areas of Specialization: Systematic Theology, Ecumenical Theology and Pentecostal Theology

William Mendoza

Program Coordinator

Richard Park, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Theology and Ethics

Areas of Specialization: Philosophy, Theology, and Ethics

Doug Petersen, Ph.D.

Margaret S. Smith Professor of World Missions and Intercultural Studies

Areas of Specialization: Ethics, World Missions, and Intercultural Studies

Dr. Petersen teaches courses in the graduate program in inter-cultural studies on subjects relating to world missions, having lived and served on the mission field for many years. He is also the founding director of CINCEL, VUSC’s Costa Rica Study Center that prepares students for work on a variety of levels within Latin America by intense language study, cultural immersion and significant issues related to the mission field. Dr. Petersen has also co-authored a number of books with fellow VU faculty including The Globalization of Pentecostalism: A Religion made to Travel (World Council of Churches); Called and Empowered: Global Mission in Pentecostal Perspective (Hendrickson) both co-authored with Murray W. Dempster and Byron D. Klaus. He is also the editor of Transformation An international Dialogue on Mission and Ethic, a magazine with worldwide distribution, published by The Oxford Center for Mission Studies.

John Mark Robeck, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Theology, Ethics, and Culture

Areas of Specialization: History of Pentecostalism in Latin America, and Latin American theologies

Gary Tyra, D.Min.

Professor of Biblical and Practical Theology

Areas of Specialization: Theology, Spiritual and Ministry Formation

April Westbrook, Ph.D.

Professor of Old Testament

Area of Specialization: Old Testament and Women’s Studies

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