Religion Studies

A religion studies program can prepare you for a career in academia or clergy work, depending on your area of interest. Find information about undergraduate and graduate courses and programs here, as well as how much you might earn in education and ministry.

Is Religion Studies for Me?

Career Overview

If you are interested in religion and philosophy or the way people choose to express their faith, a degree program in religious studies may be right for you. As a qualified graduate, you may find a clergy job or pursue a position as a college or university religion teacher.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of college professors in general was projected to increase by 19% nationwide, or faster than average, from 2012-2022. As of May 2013, the median annual salary for a religion or philosophy professor was $65,540. An average growth in employment was expected for clergy members and directors of religious activities and education through 2022, as reported by the BLS. In May 2013, clergy members and directors of religious activities and education earned median annual salaries of $43,800 and $38,160, respectively (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work In Religion?

Undergraduate Programs

Aspiring clergy members or ministers usually need a bachelor's degree to begin working in the field. A master's degree may be required for ordination and to work in churches and other religious institutions. Undergraduate programs in religion can include topics in Christian, Islamic and Jewish studies or global religion. You may also learn about the relationship between religious symbolism and myth while studying religion within a historical, geographical or sociological context.

Some programs require the study of a foreign language, such as Latin or Hebrew. Concentrations in Christian studies, ministry or another related area may also be offered. After graduation, you might decide to enter a seminary or pursue an advanced degree at a seminary, theological college or university.

Graduate Programs

Graduate programs may lead to a Master of Divinity. Areas of specialization might include pastoral or worship ministry or Biblical languages. Some programs allow for concentrations in Judaism, Islam or cross-cultural studies.

At a seminary or university, you can also pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Religion. Program emphasis is on research and writing, which can help you prepare for your dissertation. As an aspiring academic or minister, you may choose to pursue a concentration in the Old or New Testament, comparative religious studies or evangelism.

Required Skills

Clergy members must have a great deal of compassion and care for their fellow individuals. The ability to listen and to counsel is also important in ministry. Religion studies teachers must also have the ability to share their knowledge in such a way that will empower and excite students.

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