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Online Master's Degree in Comparative Religion

Learn about online master's programs in comparative religion, including what topics you will study and how to apply. Then, explore possible careers in community service and education.

Online Comparative Religion Master's Programs

Online master's programs in comparative religion include a course of study that touches upon multiple religions in the East and West as well as traditional religious studies, thought, and theory. These programs generally require around 36 credits, including coursework and a thesis or final project. Below, you can learn about the courses you will likely study in a program of this type.

Theory and Study of Religion

One of the core courses in a comparative religion master's program centers on the different approaches to religious scholarship. This course aims to give students a foundation for understanding the field of comparative religion and the different schools of thought that can help them form their own academic approach to the field. Students study the major theoreticians in the field as well as scholarly approaches such as symbolism, structuralism, and cognitive method and theory.

Electives: Christianity, Judaism, Islam

Comparative religion programs usually allow students to choose from a range of electives that best fit with their areas of interest. As such, students can take several courses that center on different aspects and topics of various religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Examples of electives include courses on early Christianity, mysticism or Christian theology, which includes the study if important figures and thought. Electives could also focus on the history of Islam and the Koran and on the doctrines of Judaism.

Electives: Buddhism and Hinduism

Other elective courses could center on Eastern religions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism. Courses on Buddhism may focus on anything from the history of Buddhism and its relevant practitioners to tenets like the Eightfold Path. Classes on Hinduism could include the study of the four yogic paths, the Rigveda or fundamental beliefs like Dharma, Karma and Moksha.

Research Methods/Writing Seminar

In master's programs of this type, students usually take core courses that develop their research and writing skills in an academic and religious studies context. A research methods course delves into the process of conducting research, gathering sources, and then using that information to write a research paper. The idea is to help students understand how to conduct, write and publish scholarly research on religion.

Admission Requirements for Online Comparative Religion Master's Programs

To apply to a master's program in comparative religion, you must first earn a bachelor's degree. Typically, these programs have no requirements as to the focus of your undergraduate degree but some require a minimum GPA (such as a 3.0). You might also need to submit an application, a resume/CV, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Some programs also require GRE scores or a writing sample. Additionally, students for whom English is a second language may need to take an English language proficiency exam to be admitted.

Comparative Religion Career Paths

A master's degree in comparative religion prepares you for different kinds of service, religious, or educational careers. Here are a few of the most common.

Philosophy and Religion Professor

Professors teach in universities or community colleges. They have a range of duties that include planning curriculums, grading assignments, and completing their own research. Professors typically need a doctoral degree to teach at the university level, but with a degree in comparative religion, you may be able to teach religion courses at private schools or 2-year community colleges.

Director of Religious Activities and Education

This type of position is responsible for the planning and coordinating of different kinds of religious activities or educational programs. Directors could work in specific religious organizations based on their denomination or in schools or hospitals. Along with promoting their religious beliefs, directors might offer counseling services, give instruction or provide comfort to these populations.

Job Title Median Annual Salary (2019) Estimated Job Growth (2018-2028)
Postsecondary Teacher (Philosophy and Religion) $75,240 10%
Director of Religious Activities and Education $40,810 5%
Social and Community Service Manager $67,150 13%

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Online master's degrees in comparative religion include the study of multiple religious belief systems and require academic research and writing courses. After you earn your degree, you can enter into several different fields, such as in education or community service.