From politics to social norms to individual beliefs, religion has played a vital role in shaping human history and culture. A recent Pew Research Center survey indicates that 84% of the global population identifies with a religious group, illustrating the crucial role religion plays in modern society.
Due to globalization, interfaith dialogue, and multiculturalism, religious studies is becoming increasingly relevant and valuable. Students can explore the impact of different religious traditions on society and the complexities of religious traditions with a bachelor’s degree in religious studies.
Besides academic curiosity, religious studies degree offers a range of exciting employment possibilities. Religious studies basics are covered in this guide, including what to expect from it, career opportunities, how to pick the right program for their needs and interests, and universities that offer it across the country.
What is a Religious Studies Degree?
Undergraduate programs in religious studies provide students with an in-depth understanding of various religious traditions, their history, beliefs, and practices. Program content provides students with tools for critically analyzing religious texts and traditions, understanding religion in society, and exploring religion’s interactions with culture.
As well as learning about Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and many others, students will analyze the role of religion in society, politics, and culture, and its impact on human values and behavior. It typically takes four years to complete a bachelor’s degree program in religious studies. Most countries, including Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, follow this standard.
University programs can, however, be shortened or extended by offering accelerated programs or part-time options. You should always confirm the length and requirements of the program with the institution you are interested in.
Bachelors in Religious Studies Program Requirements
Getting to know the admissions requirements for religious studies programs will help you prepare for the application process and make sure you meet the requirements.
We’ll talk about the typical admission requirements and any special considerations relevant to particular programs in the following sections.
General Admissions Requirements for Bachelor’s Degree in Religious Studies:
- High School Diploma or GED:
If you are interested in applying for admission to a bachelor’s program in religious studies, you will need a high school diploma or an equivalent qualification, such as a GED, to be considered for admission.
As part of the application process, you will need to submit official transcripts from all of the high schools and colleges you have attended. These transcripts should show evidence of good academic standing, and should show that you have taken coursework in English, history, and social sciences.
- Standardized Test Scores:
A large number of colleges and universities require applicants to take standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT in order to be admitted. However, some religious studies programs do not require those scores or offer test-optional admission to their programs.
- Application Fee:
In order to cover the costs of processing your application, colleges and universities typically require an application fee, typically between $50 and $100, to cover the cost of processing your application.
Additional Admissions Requirements for Bachelor’s Degree in Religious Studies
- Personal Statement:
A personal statement or essay might be asked for by some programs. In this essay, you will have the chance to demonstrate your writing skills and explain why you are interested in pursuing a degree in religious studies.
- Letters of Recommendation:
Depending on the program you apply to, a recommendation letter from a teacher, professor, or other professional who has knowledge or experience of your academic skills or potential may be required.
You may be required to have an interview with an admissions counselor or member of the faculty to discuss your interest in the program and the qualifications you possess.
- Language Requirements:
For students who are interested in studying a particular religious tradition, such as Judaism or Islam, they may be required to have proficiency in a particular language, such as Hebrew or Arabic, if they intend to do so.
For example, there may be a minimum number of credits in religious studies, philosophy, or history that must be earned in order to qualify for some programs.
Keeping up with application deadlines and submitting all required materials in a timely manner is important for each program you’re interested in. Make sure you research the admissions requirements and plan accordingly. You want to show your academic skills, intellectual curiosity, and passion for the subject matter, so be sure to show them that to admissions committees.
What courses will you take in the Bachelor’s in Ministry Program?
As we move forward with the program’s curriculum and courses, let’s take a look at how it is available in various formats, catering to students’ preferences.
- Traditional On-Campus Programs:
With traditional on-campus programs, students can earn a degree in a classic way by attending classes in person, participating in lively discussions, and interacting with professors and academic resources. As a result of this type of program, students have a chance to build meaningful connections with their peers, form strong communities, and engage in an enriching academic and social environment.
- Online Programs:
While online courses offer flexibility and convenience for students who work or have families, they can also interact with their peers and professors through virtual classrooms and discussion boards from anywhere with an internet connection. Students receive the same quality education as on-campus students in online programs.
- Hybrid Programs:
In the event that you are seeking a balance between traditional on-campus and online programs, hybrid programs may be a good choice. In hybrid programs, students can take advantage of the flexibility of online courses, but still interact with their professors and peers face-to-face.
Individual preferences and circumstances should guide the choice of a religious studies bachelor’s degree program. When choosing a program that best fits a student’s needs, factors such as cost, location, scheduling flexibility, and academic support should be considered.
Following a brief introduction to program formats, let’s take a closer look at the courses and curriculum associated with a bachelor’s degree in religious studies.
During a bachelor’s in religious studies, core courses are the foundational classes. In these courses, students learn about religion’s history, beliefs, practices, and influence on society, as well as its foundations. These are some core courses you’ll usually find in religious studies programs.
- Introduction to Religious Studies
Through this course, you get a foundational understanding of the basic concepts and theories of religious studies, which is an essential introduction to the academic study of religion. In this course, students learn about religion, how it influences society, how it’s studied, and how different religious traditions get along.
In the process, students will develop critical thinking skills as they analyze religious practices and beliefs from an academic perspective.
- History of Religion
You’ll study significant events and influential figures that shaped the beliefs and practices of these religions in this course.
Upon completion of the course, you’ll have a better understanding of how religion has influenced human culture and history
- World Religions
It’s been centuries since religions started and they’ve played a big role in human history and culture. A lot of religions will be covered in this course, including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and others.
By examining their beliefs, practices, and cultural impact, students will gain a deeper understanding of these diverse religious traditions. As a result of this exploration, students will gain a better understanding of the human experience and how religion shapes it.
- Ethics and Values
Next, you’ll learn about moral and ethical values from different religions and how they shape society and human behavior. You’ll find out: What’s the relationship between religious beliefs and moral behavior? What can we learn from different religious traditions about ethical dilemmas?
Topics like human rights, social justice, and environmental ethics will be discussed, along with how different religions approach them.
- Philosophy of Religion
Religion is at the center of this course, and it gets into philosophical arguments and concepts. We’re going to explore the nature of religious experience, the existence of God, and how evil can fit into a benevolent God’s plan.
As students analyze philosophical arguments, they will develop their own ideas about these complex questions. The course will also examine how various philosophical perspectives influence our understanding of religion.
With elective courses in religious studies, students have the chance to explore specific areas of theology and religion in ways that are aligned with their personal and professional goals. For religious studies degree programs, we usually offer a lot of electives.
- Religion and Science
A discussion of the relationship between religion and science will begin the course. By exploring the historical and contemporary perspectives of evolution, creationism, and intelligent design, students will gain an understanding of the intriguing and sometimes controversial discussions related to these theories.
This course examines the ways in which religion and science have influenced each other, and how they can work together.
- Religious Traditions
An excellent way to explore a particular religious tradition in greater depth is through a religious tradition course. In addition to Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, students can choose their own religious tradition.
It gives students an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the teachings and practices of their chosen religious tradition. Whether students want to better understand their own faith or want to expand their knowledge of other religious traditions, this course offers a comprehensive exploration of the world’s major religions.
- Religion and Politics
This course examines religion and politics in a unique and thought-provoking way. This course will help students gain an understanding of the complex relationship between religion and politics, develop critical thinking skills, and gain a deeper appreciation for how religion shapes political ideology.
As a result, religion and politics provides a unique opportunity to explore two fascinating and highly relevant areas.
- Comparative Religion
Comparative religions expose students to diverse religious traditions around the world in a fascinating and informative way. The course explores a variety of religions, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and others, including their beliefs, practices, and cultural impact.
Students will examine how different religions are similar and different, and how they impact culture and society. Comparing and contrasting religions will help students understand and appreciate them. Aside from studying the beliefs and practices of different religions, students will also study their historical and cultural contexts.
Through capstone projects in religious studies, students can demonstrate their expertise and analytical skills by investigating a specific religious topic. Whether you want to write original research papers or engage in community-based projects, the possibilities are endless.
Religious studies students can choose to focus on a particular religion or religious tradition, examining its history, beliefs, and practices in depth. In addition to examining religion’s intersection with other social, cultural, and political issues, they can also investigate the role that religion plays in society as a whole. Whether students are enrolled in traditional on-campus programs, online programs, or hybrid programs, they have the opportunity to engage in meaningful and relevant research that contributes to the broader understanding of religion in society throughout their studies in religious studies.
Best Bachelors in Religious Studies Online
There are lots of colleges and universities that offer a comprehensive and in-depth religious studies education, covering everything from religious history to contemporary religious issues to world religions. Below, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top schools in the United States that offer bachelor’s degrees in religious studies:
Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies
With a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies from Belhaven University, you’ll learn about the Bible and Christian theology. There are 125 credit hours in the program, and there are several concentrations, like pastoral ministry and missions.
Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent, and a minimum GPA of 2.0. Belhaven University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Cairn University’s Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies prepares students for ministry, academia, or other related fields. The program requires students to complete around 121 credits and covers topics like biblical languages, theology, and hermeneutics.
For admission, students must have a minimum 2.0 GPA and choose from concentrations like biblical exposition, global missions, and pre-seminary.
For the Bachelor’s degree program in Biblical Studies at Dallas Baptist University, you’ll need 120 credits. You’ll have to get a high school diploma or GED, and have a minimum 2.5 GPA to get in. Coursework includes the old and new testaments, ethics, and evangelism.
It’s accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and offers internships and study abroad.
Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies
You can get a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies at Grand Canyon University, which covers a bunch of stuff like biblical studies, theology, and Christian history. It takes 120 credits to get a degree, which you can do online and on-campus.
With this degree, graduates may pursue a career in ministry, education, or social services, or further their education in graduate or seminary programs.
Shorter University’s Bachelor of Science in Christian Studies program includes course work in biblical studies, theology, and Christian leadership.
If you want to apply, you need a high school diploma or GED and a GPA of 2.0 or higher. Graduates must have completed 120 credits with a GPA of 2.0 or higher. SAT or ACT scores must be provided online by prospective students. Shorter University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Bachelor of Arts in Religion
The Bachelor of Arts in Religion program offered by American Public University provides a comprehensive education in religious studies. American Public University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), which is a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
Students are required to complete 120 credit hours and have the option to transfer in up to 90 qualifying credits. Courses start every month and last for 8 to 16 weeks. To apply for the program, applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent.
Eastern New Mexico University’s Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Religion programs require a minimum of 120 credit hours to complete. Admission requirements include a high school diploma or GED and a minimum 2.0 GPA.
Coursework includes a range of religious studies topics, such as biblical studies, world religions, and theology. ENMU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Central Florida’s Bachelor of Arts in Religion and Cultural Studies program is a highly engaging academic program that focuses on exploring the intersection of religion and culture. Admission to the program requires a minimum GPA of 2.5 and a high school diploma or equivalent.
Coursework includes world religions, religion and popular culture, and religion and ethics. The program is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, ensuring that students receive a top-quality education.
Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies
Arizona State University (ASU) offers a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies program that provides students with a comprehensive understanding of the world’s major religions. The program emphasizes critical thinking, research, and analytical skills, preparing students for a variety of career paths or further graduate study.
Admission to the program requires a high school diploma or equivalent, as well as a minimum GPA of 2.5. ASU also considers factors such as the rigor of the student’s high school curriculum, extracurricular activities, and standardized test scores during the application review process.
Hampton University’s Bachelor’s in Religious Studies program explores theology, ethics, religious history, and cultural diversity, preparing students for graduate study or careers in ministry, education, and social work. In order to be eligible for graduation, students must fulfill the requirement of completing 120 credit hours, which includes 9 elective credits, within a time frame of 4 years.
Program offerings include internships, study abroad opportunities, and community service projects. To apply, applicants must have attained the age of 21 and are required to provide their official high school transcripts, along with 2 recommendation letters and a personal statement.
Oregon State University’s Bachelor’s in Religious Studies program provides students with an interdisciplinary approach to the study of religion. The program requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher for admission and includes courses in religion, philosophy, history, and anthropology.
Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, program offerings include research and internship opportunities. For students to graduate, they are required to complete 180 quarter credits
Bachelor of Arts in World Religion
Louisiana State University’s Bachelor of Arts in World Religion program is a rigorous academic program that covers various religious traditions, cultures, and history. The program requires the completion of 120 credits, and students have the option to transfer in up to 90 qualifying credits. Courses are offered online and are 7 weeks in length.
Students study topics such as religion and popular culture, religion and science, and religion and ethics. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
What can you do with a religious studies degree?
Interested in pursuing a career in religious studies? You may be wondering about the career options available to you after completing a bachelor’s degree in religious studies program. But what exactly are the career prospects for graduates of a bachelor’s in religious studies? With its broad range of skills and knowledge, this degree can lead to a multitude of career opportunities across a variety of fields. Let’s dive deeper on what can you do with a religious studies degree after graduating?
With a major in Religious Studies, you can choose from a variety of careers, both religious and secular. You can explore some career paths and jobs with a degree in Religious Studies, depending on your level of degree (Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral) and your additional specializations:
Having a degree in religious studies can prepare you for a career in government service, especially in areas associated with foreign policy, diplomacy, and cultural affairs.
Those who specialize in religious studies work for the government to promote interfaith dialogues and understandings, develop policies that respect and accommodate religious diversity, and support interfaith dialogue and understandings.
Individuals with a background in religious studies are often hired by non-profit organizations that work in areas such as social justice, international development, and community building. There are many non-profit workers who specialize in religious studies that work to build interfaith dialogues, and develop programs and initiatives that address the needs of different religious communities by promoting interfaith dialogue and understanding.
- Nonprofit Work: Engage in community outreach, social justice initiatives, and humanitarian efforts with religious organizations or nonprofits.
- Counseling: Provide spiritual guidance and counseling services to individuals and families.
Several students who study religious studies aspire to become religious leaders. Upon graduating with a degree in religious study, graduates can take on the role of pastors, ministers, priests, or any other religious leader.
They serve as an ambassador of interfaith dialogue and social justice initiatives for their communities, leading worship services, performing religious ceremonies, organizing events and outreach programs, as well as providing spiritual guidance and guidance to their congregations.
- Clergy: Serve as a minister, pastor, priest, rabbi, imam, or other religious leader within a specific faith community.
- Youth Minister: Work with young people in religious organizations, guiding them in their spiritual growth and development.
- Chaplain: Provide spiritual support and counseling in settings such as hospitals, prisons, military, and universities.
There is no doubt that a religious studies degree can provide an excellent foundation for a career in education, whether it is a primary, secondary, or higher school setting. Teachers specializing in religious studies teach courses on the history, beliefs, and practices of different religious traditions.
As well as traditional educational settings, some candidates may also pursue careers in non-traditional educational settings such as museums, cultural centers, and religious organizations, to provide information to the public about religion in a variety of ways.
- Professor/Teacher: Teach religious studies, theology, or philosophy at high schools, colleges, or universities.
- Researcher: Conduct academic research, contribute to scholarly journals, and engage in the study of religious texts, history, and culture.
You may be interested in becoming a social worker if you are passionate about making a positive impact on people’s lives.
Those who have completed religious studies programs possess a unique set of skills and knowledge which can be utilized in a variety of fields, including social work, among others. Among these skills are a deep understanding of how religion impacts the lives of individuals, as well as the ability to interact with diverse populations and navigate cross-cultural communication.
- NGO Work: Engage in humanitarian and development work with international organizations, incorporating cultural sensitivity and understanding.
Students who earn a Religious Studies Bachelor’s Degree may also find themselves working in academic institutions or think tanks researching and analyzing religion in society.
Upon graduation, graduates will have the opportunity to examine religion in greater detail, such as its history, culture, and social impact, and share their findings in academic journals, as well as books and scholarly articles. Graduates who pursue a career in research have the opportunity to contribute significantly to the field of religious studies while continuing to learn and develop intellectually.
With a bachelor’s degree in religious studies, you will be prepared to enter the following careers:
- Journalism and media
- Non-profit management
- Business and entrepreneurship
- Public relations and communications
The degree in religious studies gives you the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in anything. Whether you want to go into education, social work, law, or public service, a bachelor’s degree in religious studies gives you the foundation you need to make a difference in the world and your community.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the difference between religious studies and theology degree?
While both Religious Studies and Theology delve into matters of faith, they approach them from distinct perspectives. Religion Studies examines the beliefs, practices, history, and cultural impact of various religions, usually using a comparative approach. Conversely, a Theology degree tends to focus more on the doctrinal and philosophical aspects of a specific faith, examining God, faith, salvation, and scripture interpretation. Those seeking a faith-based career or preparing for ministry often pursue theology, as it is rooted in particular religious traditions.
- Is religious studies the same as philosophy?
There is a significant overlap between Religious Studies and Philosophy when it comes to probing questions about existence, meaning, and ethics. Religion Studies examines religious beliefs, practices, and their societal impact across a wide array of faiths. Philosophical research examines reality, knowledge, morality, and logic without a specific religious context. It’s important to note that Religious Studies tends to engage with the practical and cultural dimensions of religion, while Philosophy focuses more on abstract concepts.
- How hard is religious studies A level?
Depending on your strengths, study habits, and interests, Religious Studies can be challenging at the A Level. You will explore religious texts, ethical dilemmas, and philosophical arguments in this subject. With effective time management, proactive study, and active participation in class discussions, you will succeed in this course. For guidance, consult your teachers or peers and access resources available to you.
- Can you tell me the disadvantages of taking up religious studies?
It may not provide the same level of skill set as other disciplines because of its interdisciplinary nature. For certain career paths, graduates may need to reseach, specialize, or acquire additional training. A Religious Studies degree might also have a negative reputation, based on the assumption that it will have limited career opportunities. The critical thinking, cultural competence, and analytical skills honed during this program are transferable to many fields. To find potential employers or graduate programs, it is essential to proactively convey their versatility.