Many schools offer online master's degree programs in Christian religion, education or theology. These programs are often available totally online. Some programs require a practicum that gives students experience working in the field. A thesis or final paper may be required as well. Most master's degree programs in religion call for 36 credit hours of study. Applicants are usually required to have an undergraduate degree in religious studies.
Courses in these programs depend on the student's ultimate career goal, and this is a broad field. A student who wants to work in a pastoral ministry will choose courses such as family ministry, ministering to the aged and pastoral counseling. Someone who wants to work in religious education may choose courses in the Old and New Testaments and moral theology.
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Master's Degree in Religion
Master's degree programs in religion provide enhanced theoretical knowledge and scholarly research in disparate religions and their unique traditions. Students leverage their analysis of theological and Biblical studies to address contemporary issues of religious teachings and practices throughout the world. Educational and community issues related to religion are also examined.
Applicants typically must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Most institutions require students to have completed a religion or religious studies baccalaureate program. Many programs are offered completely online. Classes are viewed through the use of online learning management systems, such as Blackboard. This allows students to complete assignments as well as communicate with their professors and fellow students in discussion threads and message boards.
Master's students examine traditional and contemporary theories and practices of religions practiced around the world. They develop advanced knowledge of the principals and methods that are associated with religious education.
Definition of Religion
In this online course, students examine how religion is defined. Areas of study include readings and investigations of religious historians, theologians and sociologists.
History of Christianity
This course provides an overview of the history of Christianity from the early and medieval periods through the Reformation to the modern era. Topics of discussion include examination of key events, factors and influences that are believed to have sustained the Church through history.
This course provides an introduction to the concepts and practices of world religions. Students examine the relationship between Christianity and other faiths, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam. Emphasis is placed on the faiths that are practiced in the United States.
Graduates of a master's degree are generally qualified for positions in churches, religious organizations, and Christian elementary and secondary schools. Positions may be available for religious educators. In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median annual salary for religious workers in religious organizations, health care and schools was $28,750 (www.bls.gov). The median annual salary for religious educators and directors in the same year was $38,780 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
Doctoral programs in religion are also available at colleges and universities. Graduates from this program are qualified to work as university professors or conduct research in religious areas.
Online master's degree programs in religion generally focus on Christian theology and its applications to the modern world, although comparative studies with other religions may be included in the curriculum. Graduates often seek careers in religious education, or they may advance to doctoral programs that can prepare them for higher level positions in academia.