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What is a theology degree?

Are you fascinated by gods and deities? By how people across cultures express their faith? By how religion affects the way we interact with the world?

Theology is the critical study of spiritual belief. It explores the many different ways people experience religion. It also examines different belief systems and how they influence society. This knowledge lets us understand other cultures better. But it also helps us understand our own.

Part history, part anthropology, and part philosophy, theology is like no other degree. Students learn to discuss and compare different religions with insight and integrity. They also learn to open their minds to new ways of thinking. Finally, they practice taking on some of life's most complex questions. They delve deep into the meaning of God, belief, and religion.

Some theology students specialize in one faith, like Buddhism or Judaism. Others explore many religions. Most theology degrees involve the deep study of at least one religious text, like the Quran or the Torah. In some cases, students take courses in Hebrew, Arabic, or ancient Greek to read the text in its original form.

If you're considering a degree in theology, read on. There are lots of exciting paths to explore.

Program options

Theology degrees come in all shapes and sizes. Here are a few of the most common ones.

Bachelor's Degree in Theology
You can study theology at either a university or a theology school. These undergraduate degrees usually take about four years of full-time study to complete. Example bachelor degrees include: - Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Classical and Theological Studies - BA in Theology and Film Studies - BA Theology (with/without a foreign language) - BA with Minor in Theology - Dual degree (e.g. Theology/Social Work, or Theology/Business)

Master of Theology (MTh or ThM)
To deepen their religious knowledge, some students pursue further studies. Theology master's programs are research-oriented and intensive. They're required training for work in many religious institutions. They're also the next step toward pursuing a ThD.

Doctor of Theology (ThD or DTh)
ThD is a rigorous research degree, much like a PhD. Students conduct advanced, independent studies in a topic of their choosing. Other options include Doctor of Philosophy, Practical Theology, Ministry, or Sacred Theology.

Online/Self-Study
Finally, there are lots of ways to dive into religion on your own terms. You can explore free online courses or enrol in a full diploma program. You can read books and speak with religious leaders in your community. Set your own goals, pace, and depth!

Degrees similar to theology

It can be hard to understand the difference between theology and philosophy. At first glance, they seem very similar. Both explore different beliefs and ways of thinking about the world. Both tackle complex questions about ethics and morality.

But in reality, they are two distinct disciplines. Theology touches on philosophy. But although it often asks similar questions, it does so within a religious context. In this sense, philosophy is a broader field. It can be a secular pursuit; theology cannot.

Theology also often gets confused with religious studies. True, both examine spiritual belief systems. But unlike religious studies, theology explores faiths from the perspective of believers. Religious studies takes more of an "outsider" perspective. This wide-ranging approach to faith overlaps with sociology, psychology, and other disciplines.

Skills you'll learn

During your degree, you'll do more than deepen your knowledge of spirituality. You'll also gain key transferrable skills, including:

  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Empathy, listening, and social awareness
  • Problem solving
  • Research, evaluation, and critical analysis
  • Communication (written and oral)
  • Time management and self-motivation
  • Creative thinking
  • Cultural sensitivity
  • And more.

What can you do with a theology degree?

Religious careers are the obvious next step after a theology degree. But they aren't the only option. Here are a few key career areas available to a theology student:

Clergy
Many students study theology to become a leader within a religious institution. After graduation, they go on to become rabbis, pastors, imams, and more. Using their deep knowledge of their faith, they help others find clarity and support.

Education
For theology students who love to help others, an education career can be ideal. Many end up teaching religion in high school classrooms. Others find work in universities, sharing knowledge with future theology graduates.

Counseling and Social Work
During their studies, theology students practice patience and empathy. They learn to understand different world views and perspectives. With open minds and open hearts, they make great counselors and social workers.

Journalism and Writing
Religion is more newsworthy than you'd think! Religious journalists can cover everything from local church news to major faith-based uprisings. Theology students have strong writing and research skills. In this career, they can use them to pitch stories, conduct interviews, and more.

Management and Administration
Every religious institution needs a manager. Organized, hardworking, and socially aware, theology graduates are perfect for the role. There are lots of options, from running religious summer camps to church choirs and more.

Immigration and Border Services
Many theology students have in-depth knowledge about many religions. They understand that people of different faiths often have unique needs. Many also know the challenges of learning a new language from scratch. This powerful social awareness helps them make immigrants and visitors feel comfortable.

Curation and Archiving
Extra training may be required to enter this career. But theology—with its mix of history and anthropology—is a great foundation. Theology degrees teach students to appreciate the magic of the past. They provide a deep knowledge of various historical periods and philosophies. Many graduates find their calling in museums, libraries, or religious collections.

Law
Theology students are master critical thinkers. They've learned to build arguments, analyze complex texts, and evaluate evidence. They also know how to consider several perspectives on the same issue. All of these skills prepare them well for a career in law.

Theology Careers

The career trajectory of people with a Theology degree appears to be focused around a few careers. The most common career that users with Theology degrees have experience in is Clergy, followed by Agricultural Inspector, Social Worker, Teacher, Editor, Counselor, Nanny, Education Administrator, Choir Director, and Composer.

Career % of graduates % of population Multiple
Clergy 9.7% 0.2% 53.3×
Agricultural Inspector 0.9% 0.0% 173.3×
Social Worker 2.2% 0.5% 4.5×
Teacher 6.6% 3.0% 2.2×
Editor 1.4% 0.4% 3.2×
Counselor 1.9% 0.3% 5.7×
Nanny 1.7% 0.6% 2.9×
Education Administrator 1.1% 0.2% 6.9×
Choir Director 1.3% 0.0% 131.2×
Composer 0.7% 0.1% 6.5×

Theology Salary

Theology graduates earn on average $k, putting them in the bottom percentile of earners with a degree.

Percentile Earnings after graduation ($1000s USD)
25th (bottom earners) -
Median (average earners) -
75th (top earners) -

Theology Underemployment

Theology graduates are highly employed compared to other graduates. We have collected data on three types of underemployment. Part-time refers to work that is less than 30 hours per week. Non-college refers to work that does not require a college degree. Low-paying includes a list of low-wage service jobs such as janitorial work, serving, or dishwashing.

Employment Type Proportion of graduates
We are still collecting information for this degree

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