Religious Studies Major: Information and Requirements

Students in a bachelor's degree program in religious studies learn about the impact, application, development and history of the world's major religions and faiths.

Essential Information

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) programs in religious studies are designed for those interested in learning the history and practices of belief systems from around the world. The religions covered vary by program, but typically include Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, among others. Coursework covers topics like philosophy of spirituality and comparative religion, emphasizing the cultural aspects of faith and how value systems and religious beliefs change by geographic region and time period. Prerequisites for religious studies majors include a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Religious Studies

Curriculum in these programs detail the elements of religious structure and various world faiths. Students gain communication and critical thinking skills, as some classes encourage pondering their own beliefs and values. Some possible topics to be discussed are:

  • Christian scriptures
  • Hebrew scriptures
  • Ethics and religion
  • History of religion
  • Islamic texts
  • Eastern philosophy

Popular Career Options

While religious studies B.A. programs don't typically prepare graduates for a specific career, students do acquire the analytical thinking and communication skills that are useful in several fields. Aside from working in faith-based positions, graduates often work in communications, academia or business. Popular career options include:

  • Minister
  • Religious instructor
  • High school teacher
  • Nonfiction writer

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted employment for clergy will grow at a rate of 6% over 2014-2024. As of May 2015, the mean annual salary for these professionals was $48,150.

Continuing Education Information

Several universities offer master's degree or doctoral programs in religious studies, religious ethics or the philosophy of religion. Some schools also have specialized doctoral programs in various areas of the discipline, such as modern religious thought and Buddhist, Islamic and Jewish studies. B.A. graduates who become public school teachers need to earn state certification. Some standards vary by state, but all require at least a bachelor's degree, the passing of a written teaching methods exam and completion of a supervised observation or internship.

A bachelor's degree in religious studies can lay the foundation for careers in faith-based positions like ministers and religious instructors as well as the communications and business industries. Master's and doctoral degrees in religious studies, ethics or philosophy allow graduates to continue their studies.

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