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What Can You Do With a Degree in Religious Studies?

Oct 22, 2012 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

Religious studies degrees educate students on humanity’s rich religious tradition—including history, culture, and doctrine. While some religious studies degrees are clearly designed for those who are religious themselves, not all are—and some approach the study of religion in the same critical and analytical mindset that would be used in a political studies or literary degree program. A religious studies degree may focus on Christianity or another specific religion, or it may be more broad in its content.

But how useful is this degree in the real world? Here are just a few paths you can take with a religious studies degree.

Law school

A traditional or online bachelor’s degree in religious studies prepares students with strong analytical and communications skills that can be highly valuable in law school. In addition, perhaps because of the intense analytical nature of the degree and the time spent assessing complex sacred texts, religious studies majors tend to score highly on LSAT exams.


No matter what degree you have, the job market isn’t easy for recent graduates these days. However, if your passion is religious studies, that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily struggle to find employment after graduation.


Seminary and divinity school

A seminary or divinity school career is often the obvious path for religious studies majors. These programs may lead to a career in the church—as a minister, preacher, rabbi, or another religious leadership position. These positions often include counseling and considerable amounts of public speaking as well as interpreting and analyzing religious texts.

A career in politics

There’s no question that religion is highly important in American politics—and a background in religious studies can help you understand the needs and priorities of religious-minded voters. A career in politics doesn’t have to necessarily equate running for office; it could involve political strategy and analysis, lobbying, support of a political figure, agency leadership, and public service.

See Also: Online Political Science Degrees

A career in social service

Many religious studies majors find themselves drawn to careers that involve helping others. Social work and counseling careers often draw on the same skills demanded of ministers—working with people and communities in order to solve personal, professional, and community problems.  A religious studies major may lead to a career in individual or group counseling or social work, although some of these careers may require additional degrees or certifications.


Those majoring in religious studies develop an in-depth perspective on religious doctrine and belief that can come in very useful in writing for a religious-minded publication. Religious studies majors may find themselves reporting on issues and events important to religious communities. In addition, religious studies degrees often rely extremely heavily on writing as well as textual analysis—skills that can prove highly useful in a career such as journalism.

Business and management

Religious studies majors may develop numerous skills that transition successfully into a corporate environment—including communication; cross-cultural understanding, particularly in religious studies programs that focus on multiple religions; critical thinking; and, in programs that include preparation for ministerial training, public speaking and leadership skills. It’s definitely possible for those with religious studies degrees to find employment within the private sector—in a variety of roles that may include marketing, Human Resources management, leadership, and more.

No matter what degree you have, the job market isn’t easy for recent graduates these days. However, if your passion is religious studies, that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily struggle to find employment after graduation. Religious studies degrees can lead to numerous opportunities within the secular employment market—as well as support and leadership positions within religious organizations. There’s no question that religion is important to vast numbers of people in the United States and around the world—and people with the qualifications to understand the needs and perspectives of these groups will prove valuable to any organizations and companies that interact with religious demographics.



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