Religious Studies Majors

Through a religious studies major, you can learn about various religions and belief systems, studying their origins and how they shape the lives of the people who practice them. Keep reading for typical program requirements, online program delivery options and career options. Schools offering Christian Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What are the Requirements for the Religious Studies Major?

Some schools with a religious studies major offer traditional 4-year programs, but others have 2-year programs requiring the completion of an associate's degree prior to transferring to the bachelor's program. Other schools have programs for students who have taken time off between high school and college; in this case, admissions requirements could include three years of work experience.

Requirements for this major may include introductory courses in religious studies such as world religious traditions, methods for studying religions, comparing religious texts and spiritual formation. Many programs give students the option to choose a specialization. The most common specializations are Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Other specializations include Hinduism, south Asian traditions, spirituality, European traditions and civil society. Schools that don't offer a specialization offer either a broad overview of many religious traditions or focus on one religion, such as Catholicism, lightly touching on other religious beliefs.

Specializations Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity
Learning Environments Traditional classroom and hybrid programs are available
Common Courses Spiritual formation, mythology, Muslims in America, religion and society, religious philosophy
Possible Careers Teacher, church administrator, writer, nun

How Do the Programs Work?

Both online and on-campus programs cover similar information. Many online programs have on-campus requirements, such as residencies where you will complete religious seminars.

Some religious studies degree programs provide the opportunity to complete an internship by working with a religious group near you. For most programs, you will have to write a senior thesis on religious theories with a perspective of your choice. This can be influenced by your specialization or some other interest.

What Courses Will I Take?

Bachelor's degree programs in religious studies can give you an understanding of different religious beliefs, how they came about and how these beliefs affect people. These programs are generally not designed for you to assess the truth of people's religious beliefs, but to understand them. Some courses you might take include:

  • Ancient Greek medicine and religion
  • Religion and society
  • Religion and liberation
  • Spiritual formation
  • Issues in contemporary religion
  • Muslims in America
  • Religious philosophy
  • Mythology

How Can I Use This Degree?

A bachelor's degree in religious studies could lead to a career as a writer for religious publications, a position in church administration or a life as a nun. You could also pursue a career in religious missions. According to the College Board, a degree in religious studies may also qualify you for a teaching career in elementary, middle and high schools (

Graduate programs in religious studies are also available, including Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. These degrees could lead to additional career opportunities, such as work in the ministry or education at the community college or university level. If you want to pursue careers in another field, a bachelor's degree in religious studies might qualify you for graduate degree programs in other fields, like law or the humanities.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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  • Southern New Hampshire University

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  • Towson University

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    • Columbia (D.C.): Washington
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    • Massachusetts: Cambridge