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Religious Studies Major

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Religious Studies

828 Master's Degrees Annually
238 Doctor's Degrees Annually
#120 in Popularity (Master's)
$82,420 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Religious Studies Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many religious studies graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 828
Doctor’s Degree 238
Graduate Certificate 33

What Religious Studies Majors Need to Know

People with careers related to religion were asked what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. They weighted these areas on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest.

Knowledge Areas for Religion Majors

According to O*NET survey takers, a major in religion should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

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  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Philosophy and Theology - Knowledge of different philosophical systems and religions. This includes their basic principles, values, ethics, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and their impact on human culture.
  • History and Archeology - Knowledge of historical events and their causes, indicators, and effects on civilizations and cultures.
  • Sociology and Anthropology - Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.

Skills for Religion Majors

religion majors are found most commonly in careers in which the following skills are important:

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  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Abilities for Religion Majors

Religion majors often go into careers where the following abilities are vital:

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  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

What Can You Do With a Religious Studies Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with religion:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Area, Ethnic, and Cultural Studies Professors 10.4% $74,440
Philosophy and Religion Professors 12.3% $71,890

Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Religious Studies?

828 Master's Degrees Annually
43% Percent Women
23% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
This major attracts more men than women. About 57% of the graduates in this field are male.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of religion majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Religion Students with Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 30
Black or African American 75
Hispanic or Latino 63
White 528
International Students 69
Other Races/Ethnicities 63

Geographic Diversity

Students from other countries are interested in Religion, too. About 8.3% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • Israel
  • South Korea
  • Canada
  • France
  • United Kingdom

How Much Do Religious Studies Majors Make?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

According to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education, students who graduated with a master’s degree in religion have a median salary of $38,350 during the early years of their career. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $35,700 (25th percentile) and $42,025 (75th percentile).

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Note that some of these people may have jobs that are not directly related to a religion degree.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $82,420 to $85,450 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to religion. This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Religious Studies Major  ( 82420 to 85450 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some careers associated with religion require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

Find out what the typical degree level is for religion careers below.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 0.1%
Master’s Degree 23.8%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 2.2%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 0.7%
Doctoral Degree 66.2%
Post-Doctoral Training 7.5%

Online Religious Studies Programs

In the 2018-2019 academic year, 726 schools offered some type of religious studies program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 32 5
Certificate (1-2 years) 20 3
Certificate (2-4 Years) 1 0
Associate’s Degree 50 14
Bachelor’s Degree 34 6
Post-Baccalaureate 32 5
Master’s Degree 190 34
Post-Master’s 11 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 58 3
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 1 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 4 0

Is a Degree in Religious Studies Worth It?

The median salary for a religion grad is $82,420 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 107% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $850,400 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to religion.

Major Number of Grads
Philosophy 1,276
Other Philosophy & Religious Studies 97
General Philosophy & Religious Studies 38

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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