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Degree Overview: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Degree in Religious Studies

Majors Overview August 13, 2014

Receive information about a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree program in Religious Studies and its coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Degree Programs in Religious Studies

Students enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) program in Religious Studies are taught about the histories, activities and belief systems of numerous faiths. Critical thinking skills developed by students can be applied to various careers or to continued education by them.

BA programs in Religious Studies are devised to educate interested individuals about the practice and history of belief systems worldwide. Various programs cover different religions, but most include Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Students learn about the belief guidelines, critical texts and historical figures of each faith. High school graduates may seek admission to this degree program.

Coursework

The main emphasis of the coursework is on the cultural aspects of religion, stressing the changes in religious beliefs and value systems in various time periods and geographic regions. Some schools offer courses that encourage students to ponder their own values and beliefs. Core coursework also covers other topic areas such as:

•Philosophy of spirituality
•Islamic texts
•History of religion
•Comparative religion
•Ethics and religion
•Hebrew scriptures
•Christian scriptures
•Eastern philosophy

Career Choices

While students enrolled in Religious Studies BA programs aren’t typically prepared to seek specific careers, they are imparted communication and analytical thinking skills that they can use in numerous fields. They can seek not only faith-based positions, but also employment in business, academia or communications. Traditional career options available to them include:

•Religious instructor
•Nonfiction writer
•Minister
•High school teacher

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2010-2020 decade, an 18% job growth rate has been predicted for clergy. During the same period, writers and authors are expected to see a 6% growth, kindergarten and elementary school 17% and high school teachers 7% (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, clergy brought home an average annual wage of $44,060, while writers and authors earned $55,940, kindergarten teachers $50,120, elementary school educators $53,400, middle school teachers $53,430, and secondary school educators received $55,050, on average per year (BLS).

Continuing Education Choices

Those who complete a bachelor’s degree program may opt for continued education by earning master’s degree or doctorate programs in the philosophy of religion, religious ethics or religious studies. Some schools may offer specific doctoral programs in various areas of religious studies; these areas may be:

•Islamic studies
•Modern religious thought
•Buddhist studies
•Jewish studies

Those who wish to become public school teachers require state certification. While certification standards vary by state, a minimum qualification of a bachelor’s degree is a standard requirement, in addition to passing a written test on teaching methods and completing an internship or supervised observation period.

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