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Religious Studies

What Can I Do with a Religious Studies Degree?

In addition to the wide variety of ministries in faith communities, a degree in Religious Studies provides excellent preparation for careers in justice advocacy, political activism, law, journalism, social work, government, education, business, and public policy.

A second major or minor in religious studies will provide students of history, peace and conflict studies, political science, or religion and public life with a better understanding of religious communities and the many longstanding ideological conflicts that have shaped the contemporary world.

Students in the natural sciences who intend to enter the fields of medicine and health sciences will find that religious studies courses equip them to evaluate the moral complexity of current scientific advances and to appreciate the spiritual dimensions of health.

Students in the humanities will find that the study of the religious texts and traditions will afford them greater insight into literature, philosophy, music, and visual art.

Photo of Jesus

Clergy

Areas of Employment

Buddhist
Catholic
Jewish
Protestant

Potential Employers

Local churches, synagogues, mosques
Religious organizations
Denominational boards and agencies
Monasteries

Strategies for Success

Become involved in related campus activities.
Protestant clergy positions require denominational ordination and usually a Master of Divinity.
Possess high moral and ethical standards.
Develop leadership ability and self discipline.
Obtain excellent written and verbal communication skills.

Chaplaincy

Areas of Employment

Military
Institutional
Hospital
Conventional Institutions

Potential Employers

All branches of military service
Hospitals, hospices
Homes for children, youth, senior citizens
Correctional institutions
Police and fire departments

Strategies for Success

Obtain ordination and two years' service in local church.
After acceptance into branch of service, attend chaplaincy school.
Enroll in Clinic Pastoral Education (CPE) programs at regional hospitals.

Local Ministries

Areas of Employment

Youth Ministries
Adult Ministries
Leisure Ministries
Counseling/ Recovery
Religious Education
Day Care, Children and Adult
Missionary Outreach
Food bank/ Emergency Ministries
Family Life Center Management
Journalism
Public Relations
Television, Radio and Films
Publishing
Music

Potential Employers

Local churches, synagogues and mosques
Religious organizations
Denominational boards

Strategies for Success

Get additional training or double major in specialized areas.
Obtain certification for specialized areas.
Obtain Master's degree in Divinity or counseling.
Gain experience by volunteering in local church and campus religious organizations.
Obtain Master's degree in Divinity or counseling.
Gain experience by volunteering in local church and campus religious organizations.
Obtain an internship at denominational headquarters.
Build relationships with local church and denominational leaders.
Get experience in communications areas and develop a portfolio.
Double major in music; take additional courses in religious music.
Get performance experience through campus groups.

Missions

Areas of Employment

Church and Community Development
Education
Medical
Metropolitan Ministries
Community Centers
Evangelism

Potential Employers

Denominational boards or agencies
Missions boards
Local churches
Religious Institutions
Evangelical organizations, e.g. Cultural Ministries, CHRISTLIFE, National Evangelical Team
Social Missions - World Vision

Strategies for Success

Obtain any needed advanced degrees, certification, or licensing for area of interest.
Seek related volunteer or work experience with group of interest.
Foreign language skills are a plus.
Develop fundraising skills and contacts.

Religious Communities

Areas of Employment

Denominational groups including: Roman Catholic (Order of Sisters, Brothers, Priests), Episcopal, Greek Orthodox, Buddhist

Strategies for Success

Desire to combine career with life / living arrangements.
Apply to religious order for admittance.
Requires self-discipline.

Religion and Public Life

Areas of Employment

Public Life
Lobbying
Advocacy
Peace and Justice

Strategies for Success

Political Science
ENV Studies minor
Philosophy of Peace
Liberation Theology

Business

Areas of Employment

Administration/ Management
Human Resources
Building Management
Research
Ethics Office / Environmental Ethics
International Corporations

Potential Employers

Local churches, synagogues and mosques
Religious bookstores
Religious publishers
Denominational boards/ agencies
Seminaries/ schools of theology
Religiously affiliated schools
Seminaries/ schools of theology
Religiously affiliated schools
Denominational hospitals, homes, schools, boards and agencies

Strategies for Success

Double major or minor in Business.
Take electives in Management, Psychology, and Accounting, as appropriate.
Get related experience.
Dual degree in engineering helpful.
Develop research and writing skills.
Study World Religions + Specific Language

Communications

Areas of Employment

Advertising
Public Relations
Sales
Television/ Film
Radio
Publishing
Commercial Art
Writing
Editing

Potential Employers

Denominational boards/ agencies
Interdenominational organizations
Local churches, synagogues and mosques
Denominational publishing houses of books and magazines
Secular publishing house
Secular radio, television and film industry

Strategies for Success

Take courses in English, journalism,social sciences.
Develop excellent writing skills.
Submit articles for publication in religious and nonreligious papers and journals.
Learn desktop publishing techniques.
Obtain specialized technical training such as a second major or minor in broadcasting.
Develop artistic talent.
Electives or second major in Graphic Design/ Illustration.
Obtain related experience through internships.

Education

Areas of Employment

Teaching
Research
Counseling
Administration/ Staff
Chaplaincy
Religious Life Programming
Campus Ministry
Educational Administration

Potential Employers

Private / Public schools
Preparatory schools
Private, public or religiously affiliated colleges and universities
Schools of theology/ seminaries
Youth Campus and Organizations such as Young Life, YMCA / YWCA, Islamic Student Associations
Hillel (Jewish Campus Ministry), Buddhist Monasteries (e.g., DEER PARK in Oregon, WI)
Peace Corps

Strategies for Success

May require certification/licensure to teach.
Ph.D. usually required for teaching, research and administration in colleges and universities.
Complete Master of Divinity plus additional training for campus ministry.
Master of Divinity or Ph.D., D.Min. or Th.D. usually required for teaching, research and administration in seminaries and schools of theology.
May require multiple skills such as providing ministerial services as well as administration, teaching, coaching, etc.
Become involved in specific campus ministry organizations.
Seek leadership positions and internships or summer employment opportunities.

Health and Welfare

Areas of Employment

Administration
Social Services
Residential Living
Religious Activities Programming
Chaplaincy
Counseling: Mental Health or Pastoral

Potential Employers

Hospitals
Mental health treatment facilities
Nursing homes
Retirement homes
Assisted living homes
Children/ youth homes
Social Services

Strategies for Success

Second major or minor in Business, Social Work, Human Services, Health Care Ministry or interest area.
Take courses related to special populations.
Volunteer time in related organizations.
Obtain advanced degrees and certification for counseling and chaplaincy.
Complete Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at regional hospitals.
May need ordination for pastoral counseling.

Non-Profit

Areas of Employment

Administration
Vocational Training
Retail
Public Relations
Programming
Counseling
Advocacy
Crisis Services (pregnancy, housing, etc.)
Financial/Debt Counseling
Camp Administration
Lobbying

Potential Employers

Nonprofit organizations including: United Way, Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army, Red Cross, etc.
Churches, synagogues and mosques
Religious hospitals and hospices
Correctional institutions
Shelters
Nursing homes
Youth organizations and camps including: YMCA, YWCA, Young Life, etc.
Adoption agencies/ Foster Care
Religious political organizations, e.g. NETWORK and Wisconsin Catholic Conference NETWORK, Sojourners, TIKKUN, Wisconsin Catholic Conference, Wisconsin Council of Churches

Strategies for Success

Volunteer with local organizations for experience.
May need specialized training/ certification for some areas.
Obtain excellent interpersonal, oral and written communication skills.
Seek summer campus experience and leadership roles, such as director or assistant director.
Legal experience and law degree may be required.