Secular and Religious Options
If you want to study the influence that religion has had on human society, or if you want to reinforce your faith by studying important texts in detail, religious studies degrees may be right for you. You can pursue college religious studies both at secular institutions as well as at seminary schools, and both undergraduate and graduate schools in religious studies populate the online landscape.
Topics Covered in Religious Studies Degree Programs
Religious studies degrees do not necessarily focus solely on Christianity, nor are they solely pursued by people who plan to become priests or ministers. However, the lion's share of religious studies programs in the United States is taken by aspiring priests and ministers, or by people who want to study their faith in an academic context. Bible colleges around the country provide these study opportunities.
Even so, college religious studies programs also instruct students in the history and dogma of a wide range of religions, including Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and even pagan beliefs. Ancient religious beliefs and practices, as well as minor and alternative religions, can also be studied at the college level. However, if you're interested in gaining a well-rounded base of knowledge in a complete range of religious topics, your options are going to be limited. Most schools focus on mainstream Christianity as practiced in the modern era.
Graduate Religious Studies Degrees
If you want to go on to religious studies graduate programs, you'll benefit from as well-rounded an education as you can get. Thus, during your undergraduate religious studies, you should take courses that provide a context for your newfound knowledge. Electives in the social sciences, liberal arts and humanities make excellent supplements, as they'll help you integrate your religious studies into a wider cultural framework.
Online master's religious studies typically lead to Master of Arts designations. You can also pursue your religious studies PhD online or in class if you want to become a doctor of religious studies. If you're planning a career as a minister or priest, you should also plan for additional studies or preparatory steps as dictated by your denomination.
Religious studies degrees help you understand your faith in an academic context and gain a deeper appreciation for the cultural importance of religion. Immersing yourself in an accredited program is a solid step in a lifelong commitment to learning and faith.