Students who major in religious studies have a wide range of degree options. Where you study significantly determines what you can study, but whether your goal is a life in service to your faith, or you are just fascinated by world religions, a major in religious studies can be a rewarding path.
Majoring in religious studies can mean different things to different students. Some degrees are secular, viewing religions (whether Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or any other world religions, both ancient and modern) from the “outside,” studying the history, literature and beliefs of each. Other degrees, such as a master of divinity, are firmly rooted within a religion (Christianity, in this case), with the goal of developing advanced, expert knowledge and finding employment in the clergy.
If you’re ready to earn your degree at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, get started with a look at the Most Influential Schools in Religious Studies.
Or read on to find out what you can expect as a Religious Studies Major.
While some religious studies majors will work directly in religious settings as clergy, many find employment in a wide range of areas. Social services, education, public relations, media, business, politics, and cross-cultural relations are all places where religious studies majors can apply their knowledge and skills.
Religion is a driving force of culture, and has been for millenia. You’ll investigate the connection between religion and culture. This, in turn, will provide you with a stronger understanding of the political and social developments around you.
Many students enter religious studies programs in an effort to draw a direct connection between faith and knowledge. If your faith is important to you, and you want to grow in your faith and in your relationship to your beliefs, a religious studies degree can be a rewarding and illuminating experience.
Most religious studies degrees are rooted in a firm liberal arts education tradition. This means you get to study a bit of everything, and develop a well-rounded knowledge base, with the critical and analytical skills to navigate new challenges, and learn in unfamiliar situations.
Whether serving as clergy within a religion, or functioning as a culture critic, religious studies majors influence how we understand and interact with religion in our daily lives. Today, top influencers in religious studies are bringing light to topics like New Testament analysis, Christian apologetics, science and Christianity, and much more.
Find out who the Most Influential People are in Religious Studies today!Back to Top
Religious studies degrees come in many flavors. These degrees are available at all levels of study, and allow for specialized career-focused paths, as well as general liberal arts programs. Some are secular and view religion through a historical critical lense, some focus on specific religions (such as Islam or Hinduism), and some study in preparation for roles are ministers or rabbis.
*Note: Many, but not all, degree programs offer the choice between Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. Likewise, many, but not all, advanced degree programs offer a choice between Master of Arts, and Master of Science degrees. In most cases, the primary difference is the diversity of course offerings. “Science” degree courses will focus almost entirely on the Major discipline, with a deep dive into a specific concentration, including laboratory, clinical or practicum experience. An “Arts” degree will provide a more well-rounded curriculum which includes both core/concentration courses and a selection of humanities and electives. The type of degree you choose will depend both on your school’s offerings and your career/educational goals. Moreover, there are sometimes numerous variations in the way that colleges name and categorize majors. The degree types identified here above are some of the common naming variations, but may not be all-encompassing.Back to Top
Your “concentration” refers to a specific area of focus within your major. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provides a complete listing of college degree programs and concentrations (Classification for Instructional Programs), as sourced from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). According to IPEDS, the following are among the most popular religious studies concentrations:
Your concentration will determine many of the courses you’ll take as a religious studies major. Likewise, you will be required to take a number of requisite courses on foundational topics such as new testament and world religions. However, your degree in religious studies will also be very specific to your career goals and area of faith.
Common religious studies courses include:
A major in religious studies prepares you for diverse professions in academia, public service, and places of worship. Your religious studies major can lead to a wide range of career opportunities, including these top jobs:
Now that you know how to major in religious studies, check out The Most Influential Schools in Religious Studies and get started on your path to a religious studies degree.
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