Divinity Studies

Explore the field of divinity studies, and find out what you'd learn in a related degree program, such as a religious studies or Master of Divinity program. Review your job options with a background in divinity studies.

Are Divinity Studies Right For Me?

Career Overview

Students in divinity studies, often called religious studies, programs look at religion and how it relates to history and culture. These programs allow you to read the foundational documents of varying religions and study the original text languages. Many graduates go on to either teach religion or to serve as religious leaders, such as ministers or rabbis.

Religious studies are sometimes undertaken in order to gain an understanding of a region's religion and culture in order to either do business or to work in a governmental role abroad. Pre-law and pre-med students will sometimes double major in religious studies to add a humanities element to their college resume. Certificate programs are also available.

If you are looking to either teach at the college level or serve in religious leadership, you will likely need to earn at least a master's degree in religious or divinity studies. Both clergy and teaching jobs require the knowledge to prepare and deliver lectures or sermons and an ability to discern what needs to be taught and how to present it well. You also need the self-discipline to work unsupervised. If you would like to become a minister, you need to be compassionate and have a strong desire to serve people.

Employment Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), post-secondary teaching positions were projected to grow at a faster-than-average rate of 19% over the 10-year period between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). The median salary for post-secondary teachers during 2012 was $68,970. Post-secondary teachers who have doctoral degrees were projected to have the best possibility of landing competitive tenure track jobs within universities, but the increased demand for college education is expected to provide jobs at local and community colleges.

The BLS projected that clergy positions would grow about as fast as average between 2012 and 2022, with a 10% increase expected. Clergy members earned a median salary of $44,060 as of 2012.

How Can I Work In Divinity Studies?

Undergraduate Education

Many graduate divinity students hold bachelor's degrees in subjects such as history, theology or philosophy. If you are looking to work in a field related to religion, you might pursue a bachelor's degree in divinity studies or religious studies.

Your coursework will depend upon whether your program covers a range of religions or are majoring in a single faith, such as Christianity. Generally, you study religious thought and theology, along with the major religions of the world. If you are specializing in a religion, you read the texts of that religion, often in their original languages. You also study the history and culture of people who practice each religion.

Graduate Education

If you want to become a minister or teach at the college level, you can earn a Master of Divinity (M. Div.), which generally takes three years to complete. In order to become a minister, you study Bible, homiletics, church history, systematic theology and perform a practicum, spending time in a church. If you are looking at teaching college, you can take many of the same classes, although they may cover many religions rather than a single one.

Both post-secondary teachers and clergy go on to earn doctoral degrees in divinity studies. If you wish to teach at the college level, earning a doctoral degree will likely be necessary to earn a tenured position. Admission requirements for doctoral programs in divinity studies typically include holding a master's degree in divinity or religious studies and proficiency in at least two languages. Doctoral degrees typically take 5-7 years to complete.

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