Seven semesters required


[Unless otherwise noted, all academic courses in this department meet both CSU and UC entrance requirements]


During their first two years of study at Notre Dame, students are required to take core courses in Religious Studies that provide them with foundations in theology, scripture study, and discernment.  Self-discovery and creative self-expression are woven throughout.  Juniors and seniors are required to take two semesters of Religious Studies elective courses in addition to the required social justice course taken in their junior year (a total of three semesters).


The commitment to act on behalf of justice and to serve others is rooted in the Gospel. It is important that students have the opportunity to examine justice issues and to place them within the context of their theological and scriptural studies in addition to their own experience serving the community.  Therefore, the student has two options in approaching her upper-division coursework.  She may either take:

       • Two semesters of Religious Studies courses in her junior year (Peace and Social Justice as well as one other elective) and one semester of Religious Studies electives in her senior year.


One semester of Religious Studies (Peace and Social Justice) in her junior year and two semesters of Religious Studies electives in her senior year.



Notre Dame offers a program for students to prepare to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation. The program is offered every other year for junior and senior students only. No academic credit is given, but students who wish to take advantage of the program agree to:

  • enroll in and complete the FAITHFUL LIFE course before receiving the Sacrament
  • meet with the group of candidates and program coordinator for Confirmation preparation and reflection for a series of after school meetings
  • obtain their home parish pastor’s permission
  • attend their grade level retreat the year of Confirmation
  • complete their grade level community service requirement
  • attend the Family Mass in January/February with their parents and sponsors
  • attend formation session for candidates, parents, and sponsors
  • Complete the Initial Statement of Interest - Confirmation 2018-19 form which can be found at:


Confirmation occurs in the spring at a school liturgy with satisfactory completion of the requirements. This program will NOT be offered during the 2019-20 school year.

College Prep Classes


10 credits - Grade 9 
Prerequisite: None 
Does not meet CSU/UC requirement    

 This year-long course engages students in an exploration of themselves as young women growing in mind, body and spirit.  Students study the nature of faith, the basic beliefs of Catholic Christianity and the charism of St. Julie Billiart and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.  Throughout the course a cross-curricular study of women who have significantly contributed to humanity serves as models for students' own spiritual and personal journeys. The course also includes an overview of Hebrew Scriptures that notes the formation of scripture and its interpretation in context of Catholic understanding.  Throughout the year students explore diverse images of God and are exposed to a variety of types of prayer as invitation to grow personally and in community. 

10 credits - Grade 10   
Prerequisite: None
Does not meet CSU/UC requirement  

In a world that can often seem so broken, the Gospel message of hope and love shines through as one that all of us can embrace and live to create a world based on justice, unconditional love, and eternal peace. In this yearlong course, students will explore the Christian message in its original context through the reading of the Gospels and other portions of the New Testament, starting with the Gospel of Mark. The Gospel values examined will be applied to modern social issues in order to see that Jesus’ central message of the Reign of God is a visible and tangible reality. Interpretations draw from the Catholic faith tradition alongside our individual and communal life  experiences. The course takes an interdisciplinary approach to basic moral questions and ethical concerns that arise in relationships with self, others, creation, and God. In particular the theme of human dignity will be examined in this and other Notre Dame courses.

5 credits - Grade 11
Prerequisite: None        

Justice, the primary way to establish peace, flowers through right relationships with self, others, creation, and God. Students consider how faith in action requires critically thinking, prayerful discernment, and responding to injustice with both direct service and social action. The classroom community will study root causes and effects of social justice issues such as human trafficking, structural discrimination, workers’ rights, the environment, and poverty from a standpoint of solidarity and hope. We will examine Church Doctrine (particularly Catholic Social Teachings and Scripture) that address these, and other, issues to guide our responses. Students will be challenged to consider their own role in creating a more just world and begin to practice long-term advocacy actions to change societal structures for good. The class content and process helps prepare students for the Senior Service Learning Project. Students will leave the class better prepared to think broadly about social inequity and act locally.


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5 credits - Grade(s) 11, 12
Prerequisite: None        

In this comparative study of great world religions, students have the opportunity to examine other faith traditions, thereby giving their own beliefs new meaning and fresh perspective. The course explores the religious beliefs of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Students are empowered to examine religion as an inseparable part of every culture, as well as promote peaceful coexistence through learning about multiple traditions. Students examine the similarities and differences that these religions have in relationship to each other and with Catholic Christianity. Each religion is approached through the lens of seven dimensions: experiential, mythic, doctrinal, ethical, ritual, social, and material (e.g., art and architecture). Group projects focus on looking at each religion through its ritual and practice. This course is designed to assist students as spiritual seekers, both in their own journey while also understanding the journeys of others.

5 credits - Grade(s) 11, 12 
Prerequisite: None      
Does not meet CSU/UC requirement

Sacramental spirituality is an optimal approach to deepening one's faith and becoming fully alive.  The course explores how God is uniquely revealed through the seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church which serve to strengthen faith.  Sacramental spirituality opens one to a more compassionate, forgiving, and loving response to suffering in the world.  Students are challenged to examine the choices they are making in light of Gospel values and consider their vocational calling in respect to their unique gifts and talents.  Faithful Life is designed to foster students as spiritual seekers through self-reflection, journaling, prayer practices, and discussion.

** This course is mandatory for students planning to be confirmed with the Notre Dame Community.

5 credits - Grade(s) 11, 12
Prerequisite: None      

What is friendship?  What is truth?  What is right?  How do you know?  How do you act?  What is the relationship between faith and reason?  These are fundamental questions which have been posed and debated since the dawn of mankind.  This course is intended to familiarize students with the origins and basic perspectives found in Western philosophy using an inquiry based approach.   Students learn how to think critically, argue productively, and live authentically.  Through rigorous examination of ideas, regular participation in conversations, and honest personal reflection, students are encouraged to push the limits of knowing and consider the role of faith in their lives.  Assessments include textual analysis, writing, projects, presentations, and focused discussions.  A fundamental presumption of the course is that anyone who seeks wisdom is a philosopher.

5 credits - Grade(s) 11, 12
Prerequisite: None      

Theologies of liberation are rooted in the immediate application of a faith that does justice.  This course offers an interdisciplinary and global approach to explore systematic and personal oppression, as well as the human desire for liberation, both literal and metaphorical.  Specific focus is given to poverty, gender, and ecology.  Throughout the course students explore radical love, peace and reconciliation, and advocacy as pathways to manifesting Jesus Christ's reign of God.  Disciplines include: theology, history, economics, science, sociology, and politics. 

5 credits - Grade(s) 11, 12 
Prerequisite: None   
Does not meet CSU/UC requirement

Take a pilgrimage of the heart in this class by wrestling with four key questions: “Who am I?”, “How am I spiritual?”, “How am I creative?” and “How do I integrate what I understand going forward?”. The context for our journey is, first, Catholic spirituality with Jesus at the center and second, the individual-in-community experience. Throughout the course we will explore the sacred journey, expressing identity and spirituality, and the ways that we connect with our communities, through various creative mediums.  Then, as individuals with support from peers and teachers, students will read, reflect and create various art projects and journal entries.  The goal is greater awareness of the Divine dwelling within each of us and how to joyfully share that awareness with the world.