Career Opportunities


A bachelor’s degree in religious studies can lead to careers paths in a variety of fields, or lay a foundation for graduate work in many disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Similar to a liberal arts or liberal studies degree, the religious studies curriculum offers a broad spectrum of courses that aim to develop an understanding of religious issues, encourage critical thinking and exploration of religion, and address religion in relation to broad historical, political, cultural and philosophical themes.

Why is the study of religion important?

Religion is central to all aspects of human life and it profoundly shapes the thought and values of its adherents. A Religious Studies student examines the diverse myths, rituals, original texts, and moral systems of the world's many different religious traditions. Religious Studies provides an extraordinary opportunity to think critically about the core beliefs of civilizations past and present.




Some people think the only reason you'd want to major in Religious Studies is to have a career as a priest, minister, or rabbi. While it's true that Religious Studies is a good major for students who wish to become religious professionals, it also provides excellent  preparation for other professions. Because critical thinking, writing, and reading skills are   essential in any field, Religious Studies majors have gone into successful careers in law, business (1/3 of Fortune 500 CEOs have liberal arts degrees), counseling, education, journalism, publishing, government service, marketing,        non-profits, management, foreign service, and medicine. A few even go into careers in religion.


What are employers looking for?

A new national survey of employers describes what college graduates need to succeed in a global economy:

¨ 93% say that “a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than [a candidate’s] undergraduate major.”

¨ More than 9 in 10 want those they hire to demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity; intercultural skills; and the capacity for continued new learning.

¨ More than three-fourths want more emphasis on critical thinking, complex problem-solving, written and oral     communication, and applied knowledge in real-world settings.


Thinking of graduate school?

¨ Professional schools want flexible, adaptable minds, minds exposed to a broad range of knowledge and trained in rigorous critical thinking. They want students who can think analytically, look at life as a whole, read with          interpretive skill, and write clear, well-constructed sentences.

¨ Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Religious Studies/Philosophy majors hold the #2 spot for the highest ranking in the LSAT. Scoring an average of 157.4, they tie Economics majors and are outperformed only by Physics/Math majors. Law schools report that their top students come from math and humanities, with political science,        economics, and pre-law ranking much lower.

¨ Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Medical schools prefer non-science majors, as long as basic   premed courses are taken successfully. Humanities majors score higher than Biology majors on the MCAT.

¨ Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Religious Studies majors rank 6th out of 50 majors on the GRE in Analytical Writing and Verbal Reasoning.

¨ Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Medical schools prefer non-science majors, as long as basic premed courses are taken successfully. Humanities majors score higher than Biology majors on the MCAT.


What can you do with a major in Religious Studies?

Answer: Anything you want!


Besides a promising future, a Religious Studies major is valuable in its own right, offering what Robert Bellah calls "education for the development of character, citizenship, and culture."



Page last modified November 6, 2013