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All About an Online Bachelors Degree in Religious Studies
Are you interested in learning more about religious texts, theology, and the history of religion? Then working towards your online bachelors degree in religious studies might be worth considering. Religious studies is not just for those of devout faith who plan to pursue careers as ministers; it may also offer the chance for those who have a scholarly interest in religion to learn more about religion's impact on human history and today's society.
Common Coursework for an Online Bachelors Degree in Religious Studies
Many online bachelors degree in religious studies programs provide an overview on religious studies, rather than a focus on just one religion. However, some universities may have a program dedicated to just one religion, such as Christianity or Judaism. In many programs, you typically take basic introductory courses that include the history of religion in the East and the West. It may also be important to take courses that teach research skills[i]. Many programs require several language courses, especially in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, so that you can read the original texts. It is also common to take philosophy courses, especially as there was historically a close relationship between religion and philosophy[ii].
What Concentration Options may be Available?
Depending on what program you choose, it may be possible to concentrate your studies on a particular area. Some people choose to only study Christianity, and may even focus their study on a particular denomination, especially if they plan to pursue a career as a church leader[iii]. Other students choose to study several world religions, including Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism, along with Christianity for a more comprehensive understanding of the relationship between religions.
Many bachelor's degree programs offered in religious studies require a basic curriculum that covers the foundation of religious studies, including introductory courses on each major religion and philosophy[iv]. Courses for your chosen concentration may only be a select few courses compared to the number of required introductory courses. If you choose to continue your education into a graduate program, it is often there that have a chance to concentrate on a specific area[v].
What Skills and Abilities may be Beneficial for Religious Studies Students?
Studying religious studies typically requires reading and interpreting texts. Therefore, it may be important to have solid reading and analytical skills. There may be a chance you may have to write several essays based on your own interpretation of the texts, supported by current critical theories. Therefore, it might be beneficial to have strong writing skills as well. If you plan to use your degree to pursue a career in ministry, particularly as a director of religious activities and education, compassion and strong listening skills are highly beneficial[vi].
What Career Paths May People Who Earn an Online Bachelors Degree in Religious Studies Pursue?
Some graduates with a bachelor's in religious studies choose to continue their academic career and pursue a master's or PhD in religious studies to become a professor. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for directors of religious activities and education, was $38,480 in 2014[vii]. The median annual wage for clergy in 2014 was $43,950[vii].
For those with a deep interest in religion, learning about its history and discovering the similarities and differences among different faith systems could be fascinating. It is also possible to find programs that focus on Christianity or other religions to help prepare those who wish to pursue careers as clergy or religious directors. Researching the various online bachelor's degree programs in religious studies may help you find one with the focus and curriculum that matches your interests and goals.
[i] highpoint.edu/religion/#course [ii] highpoint.edu/religion/#course [iii] ohiochristian.edu/ministry [iv] highpoint.edu/religion/#course [v] catalogue.usc.edu/content.php?catoid=2&navoid=413 [vi] onetonline.org/link/summary/21-2021.00 [vii] bls.gov/oes/current/oes212021.htm
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