"Mini-Guide" to Online Religion Degrees

online religion degreeA degree in religion requires the study of related academic disciplines, such as anthropology, foreign language, history, literature, the visual arts, and philosophy.

If you are considering going back to school to earn an online religion degree, you're in the right place. It's natural to be excited and nervous about the idea of earning a degree over the Internet. Since we know you have lots of questions about going back to school online, we have written this quick, easy-to-read "Mini-Guide to Online Religion Degrees" to help give you all the facts that you need to make the right choice for you.

1. What is religion about?

"The academic approach to religion includes studies of civilization and society, history, language and texts, culture, music, and many other subjects…Some programs are devoted to a particular tradition, like Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, or Judaism, or to an aspect of a tradition, like the Bible or Islamic law. Other programs specialize in theoretical approaches (such as ethics, psychology, philosophy, anthropology)." [1]

"Religious studies majors learn about the nature of religious belief and traditions. Courses focus on specific religions such as Hinduism, academic fields used to study religion such as anthropology, and religious history and politics." [2]

2. Is an online religion degree right for me?

Think about an online religion degree program if:

  • You enjoy learning about the history, cultures, and traditions of other groups.
  • You like questioning the values and principles your society and the societies of others.
  • You are engaged by listening and discussing topics such as ethics, morality, and philosophy.
  • You consider yourself to be a respectful, open-minded person.
  • You enjoy knowing about the major religions of the world and how they differ.
  • You like understanding the perspectives others.
  • You are captivated by subjects such as anthropology, philosophy, sociology, and history.
  • You have been active in your religion and at a place of worship, or have enjoyed observing and participating in the religious traditions of others.
  • You enjoy thinking about the impact and influence religion and theology have had on civilizations and societies.
  • You like tackling subjects that require abstract and theoretical thinking rather than concrete thinking.

3. What other degrees besides an online religion degree should I consider?

If an online religion degree? isn't quite right for you, consider these fields instead:

Counseling

Understand the needs of individuals working to overcome life's challenges; learn how to best diagnose, treat, and help persons with behavioral and emotional disorders.

Online Counseling Degrees

Education

Know how the human mind processes and retains information and how different stages of development can affect those systems. Understand what methods and interactive tools are most engaging for every grade and subject.

Online Education Degrees

Human Resources Administration

Familiarize yourself with the skills necessary to manage issues relating to organizational staffing, compensation, and employee well-being.

Online HR Degrees

Human Services

Learn about the needs of those living with violence, isolation, or poverty; what services are needed, how to initiate and manage the programs designed to ensure well being and safety.

Human Services Degrees

Liberal Arts & Studies

Delve into a broad range of knowledge covering the humanities, languages, mathematics and sciences. Learn how to argue effectively, reason logically, and think critically.

Online Liberal Arts Degrees

Sociology

Examine intricacies of human relationships how people relate to each other and how that pertains society as a whole.

Online Sociology Degrees

4. What concentrations exist for religion degrees?

Most schools allow you to choose a specialization — a focused area of study within the religion degree program.

Chaplaincy

Preparing students for work as a chaplain in a variety of settings, including schools, the military, hospitals, correctional facilities, etc. Studies typically focus on developing religious leadership skills.

Christian Leadership

Focusing on strengthening leadership skills that can be applied to any organization or business setting. Studies are centered around Christian theology and the Bible; students work to develop communication and management skills.

Christian & Church Ministry

Providing students with the knowledge to prepare for the work of serving a church. This concentration typically focuses on developing ministry skills in various areas, such as youth ministries, teaching, administration, etc.

Divinity

Gaining the ability to lead an organization as a religious leader, divinity focuses on the religious texts; rituals and traditions; history and culture of a particular group or denomination. Students develop communication and public speaking skills.

Pastoral Counseling

Applying the morals and values of a particular religion, students learn about becoming a non-professional counselor and working in settings such as missions, shelters, churches, etc. This concentration prepares students to apply religion principles and teachings to methods of counseling.

Theology/Theological Studies

Relating religion to the humanities, theology is concerned with the origins and history of specific religions. Related topics include associated literature, philosophy, foreign languages, the visual arts, and religious texts.

5. What courses will I take in an online religion degree program?

While the exact curriculum will vary from school to school, here are some of the courses you might take as a religion major:

  • Ancient History
  • Church Organization and Management
  • Death and the Afterlife
  • Ethics
  • Introduction to Theology
  • Introduction to World Religions
  • Language and Religion
  • Literature and Music of Christianity
  • Mysticism
  • New Testament
  • Old Testament
  • Philosophy and Religion
  • Politics and Religion
  • Religions of the Eastern Hemisphere
  • Religions of the Western Hemisphere
  • Sociology
  • The Protestant Reformation
  • The Role of Art and Music in Religion
  • Traditions and Rituals of Funerals

6. What skills will I learn as an online religion major?

When you have completed your online religion degree program, you will likely have gained many of the following skills and competencies:

  • Ability to approach issues with an open mind and the ability to consider more than one prospective/opinion
  • Ability to handle personal and confidential information reliably with strong ethical scruples
  • Excellent reading comprehension and the ability to understand the meaning and significance of specific religious texts
  • Excellent leadership and management skills
  • Good research skills, with expertise in historical and literary research
  • Resourceful with excellent problem solving skills
  • Strong elocutionary, conversational, and interpersonal skills
  • Successful in completing work independently as well as being able to successful within a team environment
  • Superb understanding of historical and current social problems and issues
  • Thorough knowledge and appreciation of the major religions and faiths of the world

7. What kind of employers hire online religion degree holders?

As a multidisciplinary major focusing on the history of religion and human culture, religion principles and philosophy, and the role of religion in society and politics, religion majors are needed in a variety of industries, such as:

  • Adoption Agencies/Foster Care
  • All Branches of the Military
  • Assisted Living Homes
  • Correctional Institutions
  • Hospitals and Hospices
  • Local Churches, Synagogues and Mosques
  • Mental Health Treatment Facilities
  • Nonprofit Organizations Including: United Way; Red Cross; Goodwill Industries; Salvation Army, etc.
  • Police and Fire Departments
  • Religiously Affiliated Schools; Preparatory School; Private, Public or Religiously Affiliated Colleges and Universities
  • Religious Organizations
  • Schools of Theology/Seminaries
  • Shelters
  • Youth Organizations and Camps including YMCA, YWCA, Young Life, etc.

8. What careers will I qualify for with an online religion degree?

Here is a sampling of jobs you for which you may be qualified with a degree in religion. Remember that requirements differ from organization to organization, and certain credentials may be required. Use this for inspiration, remembering that this many represents some, but certainly not all, of the careers can consider.

Possible Job Titles for Associate's or Bachelor's Religion Degree Holders

  • Activities Coordinator
  • Community Center Coordinator
  • Correspondent/Journalist
  • Outreach Associate
  • Missionary
  • Social Worker
  • Teacher
  • Writer/Editor
  • Worship Pastor
  • Youth Minister

Possible Job Titles for Advanced Religion Degree Holders

Additional experience is typically required for the positions in this list.

  • Community Center Administrator
  • Counselor
  • Church Education Director
  • Director of Communications
  • Hospital Chaplain
  • Military Chaplain
  • Minister
  • Parish Administrator
  • Professor
  • School Administrator

[1] books.google.com/books?id=DGllxKSaMbAC | [2] bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/philosophy-religion-religious-studies

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