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Religious Studies: Religious Education Courses

Religious studies programs at colleges and universities provide students with an in-depth look at the historical, cultural and political lives of society throughout the ages and the impact of different religions throughout history. Students enrolled in a religious study program learn about ancient civilizations, myths, folklore, legends, theology and archeology, and may be involved with conducting in-depth research and analysis of various events that have shaped various cultures. Some colleges and universities have their own religious study department, while others offer religious studies degree programs through a bachelor of arts in religion or general studies degree.

About Religious Studies

Religious studies degree programs involve the close study and analysis of religious traditions, religious history and modern religion issues that affect different cultures and countries. A religious studies degree program encompasses research, abstract reasoning and discussion elements to help students develop strong analytical and research skills as they learn about the historic and cultural context of different religions.

Most religious study programs are concentrated around the major belief systems including Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Some graduates of religious studies degree programs choose to work as religious leaders, while others pursue non-clergy careers where they work in fields of business, law, and research.

Career Options with a Religious Studies Degree

Not all students that complete a religious studies degree program work in a church or a church-related organization. Career options for individuals that complete a religious studies degree program include:

  • Teaching at a parochial school
  • Congregational work
  • Volunteer programs at a church
  • Sales and marketing of religious textbooks and materials
  • Religious writing
  • Research
  • Director of faith-based non-profit organizations

Fields in Religious Studies

Many colleges and universities offer specialized courses and fields of study in areas such as:

  • Asian Religions
  • Ancient Christianity
  • Judaic Studies
  • Islamic Studies
  • American Religious History
  • New Testament
  • Old Testament and the Hebrew Bible
  • Theology
  • Religious Ethics
  • Philosophy of Religion

Religion courses in these fields may be offered at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Some schools offer advanced courses in these fields that lead to a graduate degree such as a Master of Sacred Theology, Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Religion.

Completing a Religious Education

Anyone interested in completing a religious study program can pursue an associate, bachelor of science, bachelor of arts or master of arts and sciences in areas of Christian ministry, theology and religious education. Some of the most common online and offline degree programs for religious studies include:

  • Associate of Arts – Personal Ministries
  • Associate of Science in Christian Ministry
  • Bachelor of Arts in Religion
  • Bachelor of Arts in Theological Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Christian Ministry
  • Bachelor of Science in Religious Education
  • Bachelor of Science in Church Business Management
  • Master of Arts in Ministry Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies

Types of Religion Courses

In addition to general courses in the fields of humanities, social sciences, sociology and psychology, religious studies degree programs typically include the following types of religion courses:

  • Methodological Introduction to the Study of Religion
  • Elementary or Intermediate Biblical Hebrew
  • South Asian Religious Traditions
  • Religious Traditions of the World
  • Introduction to Intertestamental Literature
  • Introduction to the Old Testament
  • Introduction to the New Testament
  • Issues in Contemporary Religion
  • Hindu Traditions
  • Buddhist Traditions
  • Chinese Religions
  • Religion and Politics in 20th Century America
  • Myth and History in Religious Biography

Religious Study Degree Programs Online

Students who wish to work at their own pace, prefer to work independently, or are juggling a full-time career while completing their degree may choose to complete a religious study degree program online. Online religious study degree programs are designed to provide the same quality of education as an offline program, but the educational requirements may requires students to participate in online discussion groups, submit research papers and projects over the web, participate in live lectures and webcasts, and interact with religious leaders and students from around the country. Some colleges and universities offer both a bachelor's and master's degree program in religion in an online format.

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