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Career Information for a Degree in Christian Studies

Degrees in Christian studies typically cover scriptures, theology and history. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for Christian studies graduates.

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A degree in Christian studies can prepare one for a religious career, such as a clergy member. While this type of degree program, usually presented by a Christian college or university, may explore Christianity from a theological standpoint, it may also examine the history and sociology of the Christian faith.

Essential Information

Degrees in Christian studies cover Christianity from a religious, anthropological, societal, and historical perspective. Although one does not need to belong to the Christian faith in order to earn a degree, Christian studies programs are often associated with Christian colleges, an usually focus more on the spiritual aspects of Christianity than a broader degree in theology would. With a degree in Christian studies, one might be qualified to work in the clergy, as a ministry director or as a foreign or domestic missionary, among other career choices.

Career Clergy Member Ministry Director Missionary
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree; Most also possess a master's degree Most possess a bachelor's degree Most possess a bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 5-8% 2-4% for religious activities and education directors 5-8% for all religious workers, all others
Median Salary (2015)* $48,150 $38,780 for religious activities and education directors $28,750 for all religious workers, all others

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options

Graduates of a bachelor's degree program in Christian studies might pursue a graduate degree or seminary school after graduation. However, many career options are available to graduates of a bachelor's program too. Some possible career choices for graduates of Christian studies degree programs include clergy member, ministry director or missionary.

Clergy Member

Clergy members act as the spiritual and religious leaders of their congregations, whether they serve at a Catholic basilica or a small Methodist chapel. Depending on their denominations, they might carry titles such as priest, pastor or minister. In most circumstances, clergy members are expected to serve as community as well as spiritual leaders, providing advice and guidance in matters both religious and secular. Priests, pastors and other religious leaders are often in charge of the other employees and programs in their church.

According to O*Net Online, this career field was expected to continue growing at 5-8% from 2014-2024. (www.onetonline.org). The median salary for members of the clergy was $48,150 per year in May 2015 per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov).

Ministry Director

Ministry directors are in charge of their church's finances, employees, payroll, taxes and programs. They report to the priest, pastor or other clergy member who presides over their churches, but generally they supervise all other workers, from secretaries to soup kitchen volunteers. Ministry directors are responsible for ensuring the success of church-run programs and may be entrusted with advertising, finding new parishioners or creating programs to boost church attendance.

O*Net reported a median annual income for the group classified as 'Directors, Religious Activities and Education' of $38,780 in 2015. The number of new job openings in this career field was projected to grow at 2-4% from 2014-2024, also according to O*Net.

Missionaries

Missionaries work in other communities to educate the local population about their religion and seek converts to the faith. Most missionaries are assigned to developing nations, often in Africa or Asia, but some are sent to developed countries, including parts of the U.S., to disseminate information about their beliefs within the industrialized world. Many of these workers also perform non-religious work, including assisting in infrastructure development, teaching English or educating people about disease prevention.

Professional missionaries are generally paid salaries appropriate to the cost of living in the country in which they are working. They are also often given allowances for local income taxes, housing and transportation. However, many mission organizations require the missionaries to conduct fundraising to obtain their salary and living expenses through donations, which are then disbursed to the missionary by the organization. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for missionaries, classified under Religious Workers, All Other, was $28,750 in May 2015. O*Net reported the job growth for missionaries, included under Religious Workers, All Other, was expected to grow 5-8% from 2014-2024.

What is a Degree in Christian Studies?

Degree programs in Christian studies are typically offered by liberal arts colleges and universities affiliated with Christian denominations, such as the Catholic or Lutheran churches. These programs can prepare students for careers in religious service by teaching them about the scriptures, theology, history and development of the faith. Students do not need to belong to a Christian denomination to attend these programs.

A broad grounding in the humanities and sciences is also usually included in these degree programs. Graduates of these programs might pursue employment directly after earning an undergraduate degree or to continue graduate or seminary education after graduation.

A degree in Christian studies can prepare one for a religious career, such as a clergy member or missionary. This field of study may also be beneficial for religious scholars and academics interested in studying Christianity from either a theological or anthropological point of view.

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