Religious Studies

Main Content

student
What can I do with this major?
Area Employers Strategies

Local Ministries

  • 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

Local churches, synagogues and mosques

Religious organizations

Denominational boards

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 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.

Social Services

  • Administration

  • Vocational Training

  • Retail

  • Public Relations

  • Programming

  • Counseling

  • Advocacy

  • Crisis Services

    (pregnancy, housing, etc.)

  • Financial/Debt Counseling

  • Camp Administration

  • Lobbying

Nonprofit organizations including United Way, Red Cross, Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army, 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. Moral Majority

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

Health and Welfare Ministries

  • Administration

  • Social Services

  • Residential Living

  • Religious Activities Programming

  • Chaplainry

  • Counseling: Mental Health or Pastoral

Hospitals

Mental health treatment facilities

Nursing homes

Retirement homes

Assisted living homes

Children/youth homes

Double major or minor in Business, Social Work, Human Services or special interest area. Take courses related to special populations. Volunteer time in related organizations. Obtain advanced degrees and certification for counseling and chaplainry. May need ordination for pastoral counseling.

Clergy

  • Buddhist

  • Catholic

  • Jewish

  • Protestant

Local churches, synagogues, mosques

Religious organizations

Denominational boards and agencies

Monasteries

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.

Chaplainry

  • Military

  • Institutional

All branches of military service

Hospitals, hospices

Homes for children, youth, senior citizens

Correctional institutions

Police and fire departments

Obtain ordination and two years' service in local church. After acceptance into branch of service, attend chaplainry school.

Missions

  • Church and Community Development

  • Education

  • Medical

  • Metropolitan Ministries

  • Community Centers

  • Evangelism

Denominational boards or agencies

Missions boards

Local churches

Religious institutions

Evangelical organizations e.g. Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

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

Education

  • Teaching

  • Research

  • Counseling

  • Administration/Staff

  • Chaplainry

  • Religious Life Programming

  • Campus Ministry

Religiously affiliated schools

Preparatory schools

Private, public or religiously affiliated colleges and universities

Schools of theology/seminaries

Organizations such as Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Campus Crusade for Christ, Muslim Student Association, Hillel Buddhist Monasteries such as Chuang Yen Monastery

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 and 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.

Business

  • Administration/ Management

  • Human Resources

  • Building Management

  • Research

Local churches, synagogues and mosques

Religious bookstores

Religious publishers

Denominational boards/agencies

Seminaries/schools of theology

Religiously affiliated schools

Denominational hospitals, homes, schools, boards and agencies

Double major or minor in Business. Get related experience. Dual degree in engineering helpful. Develop research and writing skills.

Communication

  • Writing

  • Editing

  • Publishing

  • Television/Film

  • Radio

  • Advertising

  • Public Relations

  • Sales

  • Commercial Art

Denominational boards/agencies

Interdenominational organizations

Local churches, synagogues and mosques

Denominational publishing houses of books and magazines

Secular publishing houses

Secular radio, television and film industry

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

Religious Communities

Denominational groups including: Roman Catholic (Nuns and Monks), Episcopal, and, Greek Orthodox, Buddhist

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

Strategies for placement in Religious Studies

  • People interested in religious vs. secular work possess deep faith, want more than filling own personal needs, and want to make a difference.

  • Bachelor's degree provides broad background for careers in many fields including many religious-affiliated organizations.

  • An undergraduate degree prepares students for professional and graduate study in business, law, medicine, counseling, higher education and other fields.

  • Dual majors are required for some specialized areas.

  • Master of Divinity required for most clergy positions, plus denominational ordination.

  • Obtain general knowledge of practices, procedures, guidelines and doctrine of one's faith.

  • Possess understanding of human spiritual and social needs.

  • Ph.D., Th.D. or D.Min. required for college/university/seminary teaching, research and administration.

  • Obtain part-time, summer, internship, volunteer experience in religious institution or bookstore, or other related activity in working with and helping people.

  • Develop counseling and communication skills due to the nature of the field and working with people.

  • May be more opportunities for specific ministries in urban areas and large religious institutions.

  • Obtain experience and contacts through extensive involvement in campus organizations. Leadership on the local, state and regional level is crucial.

  • Obtain camp experience to improve organization and counseling skills as well as network within the denominational/organizational structure.

Prepared by the Career Planning staff of Career Services at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. (2005) UTK is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section
504/ADA /ADEA Employer.

Links

United World Mission 
Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life
Buddhist Association of the US 
American Academy of Religion 
Psychology of Religion 
American Association of Pastoral Counselors 
Idealist