Programs in religious studies are offered by most colleges and universities across the US. Religious studies degrees are offered at the associate, bachelor, master, and doctoral levels. The degree program that you enroll in will depend on your prior education and future career goals. If you want to continue managing your professional responsibilities alongside your education, you might consider enrolling in an online degree program. As far as curriculum and quality of content is concerned, accredited online programs are equally as good as traditional on-campus programs.
Some programs place a greater focus on sociological and philosophical aspects of religions, and others provide knowledge and training related to practical issues in ministry like church outreach and explanation and analysis of religious texts. There will be variations in the curriculum of religious studies programs, but in order to give you an idea, we've listed some examples of the types of courses that you may find:
Introduction to Pastoral Care and Counseling
Life and Teachings of Jesus
If you want to attain specialized knowledge, many variations of religious studies degrees are offered. These include biblical and education studies, Christian leadership and education, Christian counseling, pastoral ministry, and youth ministry to name a few.
What to do with a Degree in Religious Studies
Religious studies graduates go on to pursue a wide variety of careers. Some may decide to further their studies and pursue a research oriented degree like a doctorate. Some popular career options for religious studies graduates include, but are not restricted to:
Teachers: You may decide to pass on the religious knowledge that you have acquired onto others. Opportunities could be found in post-secondary schools as well as church based colleges.
Ordained/Non-Ordained Clergy Positions: Whereas ordained positions usually require a seminary degree, non-ordained positions do not necessarily involve seminary training. Position titles may include pastor, priest, or preacher.
Religious Writer: Religious studies graduates may be able to work in the field of religious or spiritual writing. They may be employed by a publishing company, or they could work as a freelance writer. There are many magazine and book publishers that look for employees who could make some contribution to developing new ideas and approaches to religious topics.
Positions with Not-for Profit Organizations: You may work in an organization that is devoted to a particular religious or humanitarian cause. Examples of positions include fundraiser, promotional speaker, campaign officer, public relations manager, or event organizer.
Research Analysts: The job responsibilities include the evaluation and study of religious norms and behaviors related to different social, political, and business activities. Research analysts also study how religious groups interact, look at changes that have occurred over time as far as religion is concerned, and analyze how religious beliefs or practices influence a culture or society.
According to US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, religious workers earned a median annual income of $26,380. The compensation will however depend on a number of factors like level of education, prior experience, personal characteristics, and the exact position for which you have applied.