Career Information for a Degree in Religious Studies or Philosophy

A degree program in religious studies or philosophy is generally offered only at the baccalaureate level or higher and can prepare students for a variety of careers in academia, communications or related fields. Read on for career options, outlooks and salary stats in this field.

After completing degree programs in religion or philosophy, many students choose to go into careers as professors, writers, and journalists. These careers draw on their school experience in critical thinking, analysis, and research. Some careers options require only a bachelor's degree, while others call for graduate study.

Essential Information

Degree programs in religious studies or philosophy instruct students in research, communications and critical thinking skills, as well as knowledge of religious and philosophical systems. Religious studies students generally approach the study of religion from an academic standpoint rather than from the perspective of a specific tradition. Philosophy students are interested in questions of knowledge and understanding and may focus on fields such as analytics or the philosophy of religion.

In order to pursue careers in philosophy or the study of religion, students often need to complete a master's or doctoral degree. These religious studies or philosophy degree holders often work in postsecondary teaching, writing or journalism.

Career Religion/Philosophy Professor Writer Journalist
Required Education Doctoral degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 13% (all postsecondary instructors) 2% (writers and authors) -8% (reporters and correspondents)
Median Salary (2015)* $66,380 (postsecondary instructors of religion and philosophy) $60,250 (writers and authors) $36,360 (reporters and correspondents)

*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Graduates of religious studies or philosophy degree programs often go on to work as postsecondary teachers, writers or journalists. They are prepared for advanced critical thinking and problem-solving, in addition to having research skills and sensitivity to other cultures and systems of belief.

Postsecondary Educators

A majority of students who complete doctoral degrees in philosophy or religious studies plan to pursue careers in academic research and teaching. Postsecondary teachers work for colleges and universities, teaching courses, advising students and, in most cases, publishing research.

Writers

Writers use the written word to communicate ideas, stories and concepts to readers, who may be laypersons, experts in a specific area, hobbyists or recreational readers. Writers who have training in religious studies or philosophy might write freelance pieces for magazines that focus on religious topics or related issues, or they may research and write books for specialty or general audiences.

Journalists

Journalists use printed or other media to inform readers, listeners and viewers about important issues and newsworthy stories. They may write stories for newspapers, magazines or online journals, or they might report stories for television or radio news broadcasts. Journalists who focus on religious topics might begin as freelance writers, pitching story ideas to magazines and newspapers, before establishing stable careers. Some journalists work as columnists, writing regular opinion and commentary pieces for a specific publication.

There are a few popular options available for students holding degrees in religion and philosophy. A career as a university professor can offer graduates of doctoral programs a chance to teach and continue their research. As writers or journalists, graduates with bachelor's or graduate degrees can research and publish pieces, from magazine articles to books, on religious topics and issues, depending on their target audiences.


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