Religious Studies

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Area

International Areas

  • Humanitarian services
  • Development:
    • Economic
    • Community
  • Disaster/Disease relief

  • Policy development
  • Program administration
  • Volunteer coordination
  • Peace keeping or peacebuilding
  • Conflict resolution/Management

  • Diplomacy/Faith based diplomacy
  • Public service:
    • Foreign affairs
    • International security
  • International law

Employers

  • International aid and relief organizations
  • NGO’s (Non-governmental Organizations), (e.g., Amnesty International)
  • Nonprofit and not-for-profit organizations (e.g., Vital Voices or Habitat for Humanity)

  • Federal government agencies with an international focus [e.g., Peace Corps, USAID and the Foreign Service (State Department)]
  • Private voluntary organizations
  • Humanitarian organizations (e.g.,International Red Cross and CARE)

  • Religious organizations (e.g., World Vision)
  • National Security Council
  • United Nations
  • Think tanks

Strategies

  • Many international organizations value the historical and contemporary context of religions and cultures that one learns in religious studies.
  • Learn one or more foreign languages.
  • Plan to study, volunteer, or intern abroad more than one time if possible.
  • Seek cultural experiences on campus and get involved with the international student population.
  • Join relevant student organizations such as Amnesty International and gain leadership roles.
  • Develop excellent research, writing, communication, and organizational skills.
  • Participate in an international service learning experience or go on a mission trip.
  • Federal international jobs require careful observation of a formal hiring procedure. Apply for a federal government internship.
  • Government work in the foreign service requires passage of the Foreign Service Exam and adherence to a list of requirements.
  • Research the international organization/agency’s structure and function.
  • Volunteer at relevant local social service agencies to gain experience and demonstrate interest.
  • Develop good working knowledge of international humanitarian law.
  • Demonstrate your depth of dedication, willingness to adapt, and coping mechanisms to combat stress and difficult situations
  • Earn first aid certification to assist in disaster relief work with organizations such as the Red Cross.
  • Develop skills in the areas of organizing groups, efficiency, and the ability to calm people.
  • Earn a graduate degree in an area of interest to open more job opportunities. Religious studies provides a good background for a variety of graduate programs.

Area

Education

  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Student affairs administration

  • Multicultural programming
  • Programs/Study abroad administration
  • Library/Information sciences

  • Religious life programming
  • Campus ministry

Employers

  • Secondary schools
  • Private, public, or religiously affiliated colleges and universities
  • Schools of theology/seminaries

  • Organizations (e.g., Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Campus Crusade for Christ, Muslim Student Association, Hillel)
  • Buddhist Monasteries (e.g., Chuang Yen Monastery)

Strategies

  • Earn a doctorate degree for teaching and research in colleges and universities. Earn a master’s degree in a relevant field for positions in student affairs administration or library/information sciences.
  • Earn certification/licensure to teach in public secondary schools. Choose a double major in an area such as history.
  • Complete Master of Divinity plus additional training for campus ministry.
  • Master of Divinity and Ph.D., D.Min. or Th.D. usually required for teaching, research and administration in seminaries and schools of theology.
  • Focus on a specialization such as Women’s Studies in Religion during graduate school to further employability.
  • Seek campus leadership positions such as Peer Mentor, Resident Assistant, or Orientation Leader.
  • Volunteer to assist a faculty member with research.
  • Develop relationships with faculty to secure strong recommendations.
  • Maintain a strong grade point average to gain admittance into graduate school.
  • Learn to speak a second language if planning to pursue a graduate degree in religious studies. Choose a language that will be particularly relevant to your interests.

Area

Business

  • Human resources:
    • Training and development
    • Recruitment
    • Equity and diversity functions

  • Management
  • Sales

  • Marketing
  • Public relations

Employers

  • Insurance firms
  • Retail stores

  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Staffing agencies

  • Service industries
  • Other large corporations

Strategies

  • Learn how to sell your religious studies major to business employers that value employees who understand and appreciate cultural diversity.
  • Double major or minor in business.
  • Gain related experience through internships or summer and part-time jobs.
  • Get involved in relevant student organizations and seek leadership roles.
  • Develop the ability to write and speak persuasively, as well as adapt content for diverse populations
  • Learn how to use relevant software including those for spreadsheets, presentations, and databases.

Area

Communications and Arts

  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Publishing
  • Television/Film
  • Radio

  • Advertising
  • Public relations
  • Sales
  • Commercial art
  • Website design

  • Event planning
  • Museum work:
    • Curatorship
    • Exhibition design

Employers

  • Secular publishing houses
  • Secular radio, television, and film producers
  • Newspapers
  • Websites

  • Denominational boards/agencies
  • Interdenominational organizations
  • Denominational publishing houses of books and magazines
  • Local churches, synagogues, and mosques

  • Advertising and public relation agencies
  • Museums
  • Galleries

Strategies

  • Plan to complete one or more internships in this area to prepare for a professional job and to build a network of relevant professionals.
  • Take courses in English, journalism, art  history, or photography depending upon interest area.
  • Develop excellent writing and editing skills.
  • Work for the campus newspaper, radio station, or tv station.
  • Submit articles for publication in religious and nonreligious papers and journals.
  • Learn web design and desktop publishing.
  • Obtain specialized technical training such as a double major or minor in broadcasting or graphic design for work in those fields.
  • Develop a portfolio of writing samples.
  • Display good planning, organizational, interpersonal, and public speaking skills, and learn to think creatively.
  • Move to larger metropolitan areas for more jobs, and be willing to relocate for promotions.
  • Consider freelance positions to work in journalism.
  • Earn a graduate degree for museum work.

Area

Social Services

  • Case management
  • Counseling
  • Rehabilitation
  • Administration
  • Vocational training

  • Volunteer services
  • Programming
  • Advocacy
  • Crisis services (e.g., pregnancy, housing, etc.)

  • Church-based organizing/Community development
  • Fundraising
  • Grant writing
  • Law

Employers

  • Nonprofit and social services organizations: United Way, Red Cross, Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army, etc.
  • Immigrant and refugee service providers
  • Migrant service providers

  • Hospitals and hospices
  • Residential treatment facilities
  • Correctional institutions
  • Shelters

  • Nursing homes and assisted living facilities
  • Youth organizations and camps: YMCA, YWCA, Young Life, Campus Life, etc.
  • Churches, synagogues, and mosques
  • Lobby agencies

Strategies

  • Volunteer with local organizations to gain experience working with a wide variety of people from various backgrounds. Develop multicultural competence.
  • Obtain excellent interpersonal and oral and written communication skills.
  • Plan to earn a graduate degree in counseling, social work, or psychology to provide therapy or counseling to clients.
  • Complete an internship or part-time job in an organization of interest to gain experience and develop contacts.
  • Find ways to develop fundraising and grant writing skills. These are valued by nonprofit agencies.
  • Learn a language such as Spanish to work with immigrant and migrant populations.
  • Earn a joint degree in divinity and law to work in legal fields related to religious freedom issues.

Area

Religiously Affiliated Areas

  • Clergy and other religious leaders:
    • Buddhist, Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Islamic, Hindu, Greek Orthodox
  • Vocation as Monk or Nun
  • Chaplaincy:
    • Military
    • Institutional

  • Mission work:
    • Church development
    • Community or agricultural development
    • Educational
    • Medical
    • Metropolitan
    • Evangelism

  • Local ministries:
    • Youth ministries
    • Adult ministries
    • Leisure ministries
    • Counseling/Recovery
    • Religious education
    • Day care, children and adult
    • Food bank/Emergency einistries
    • Family life center management
  • Music-oriented ministries
  • Religious camp administration

Employers

  • Local churches, synagogues, mosques
  • Religious organizations
  • Religious communities, (e.g., convents and monasteries)
  • Religious retreat centers, Christian and Buddhist
  • Denominational boards and agencies
  • Monasteries

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

  • Local churches
  • Evangelical organizations (e.g., Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Operation Christmas Child)
  • Religious-based camps and youth programs, (e.g., Young Life)

Strategies

  • Obtain general knowledge of practices, procedures, guidelines, and doctrine of one’s faith.
  • Gain an understanding of human spiritual and social needs. Demonstrate an openness to learn about other people’s faith and multiple perspectives from different backgrounds.
  • Research requirements to enter leadership in the faith you want to pursue. Master of Divinity and denominational ordination are required for most clergy positions, for example.
  • Possess high moral and ethical standards.
  • Develop leadership ability and self discipline.
  • Hone communication skills, both oral and written.
  • To become a chaplain, obtain ordination and two years service in local church or after acceptance into branch of military service, attend chaplaincy school.
  • Earn any needed advanced degrees, certification, or licensing in area of interest for missions.
  • Seek related experience by participating with missions groups.
  • Gain travel and cultural experience with group of interest. Foreign language skills are a plus.
  • Develop fundraising and budgeting skills.
  • People interested in religious vs. secular work possess deep faith, want more than filling one’s own personal needs, and desire to make a difference.
  • Often more opportunities for specific ministries exist in urban areas and large religious institutions.
  • Obtain experience and contacts through extensive involvement in campus organizations or local religious institutions. Leadership on the local, state, and regional level is crucial.
  • Seek camp experience to improve organization and counseling skills as well as network within the denominational / organizational structure.
  • Learn to work well with people of all different backgrounds and socioeconomic status.
  • Earn dual degrees where appropriate, (e.g., music).

General Information

  • Religious studies equips students with an understanding of global issues and trends in both historical and contemporary contexts. This understanding of multiculturalism and interculturalism is valued by a wide variety of employers in many industries including education, government, and business.
  • Student who seek international careers may find that religious studies provides a good background in global issues.
  • Many transferable skills such as analyzing and synthesizing data, research, communication skills, and critical thinking are associated with the religious studies degree.
  • People who major in religious studies may or may not consider themselves “religious.” Expertise in religious ideas can be a plus for secular work environments as well as more traditional religious ones.
  • An undergraduate degree prepares students for professional and graduate study in business, law, medicine, counseling, higher education, and other fields. Check for prerequisite classes needed to enter various graduate programs.
  • Obtaining relevant experience through internships or volunteer experiences is critical to finding employment opportunities. Dual majors or minors can also help open the door in some fields.
  • Join relevant organizations and seek leadership roles.