If you are passionate about your faith, have strong communication skills, and enjoy working closely with others, theology may be a rewarding career path for you. Theology students can expect to cover topics such the history of religion, traditional themes, sacred texts, and the role of religion in modern society. Throughout their studies, students will be asked to approach religion from an academic and critical standpoint, as well as a personal one. As with other humanities programs, students will be expected to demonstrate strong writing and critical thinking skills.
Many online degrees and traditional on-campus programs are available to students interested in majoring in theology. Graduates with a degree in theology are prepared to work as youth ministers, religion teachers, church staff, or continue on to seminary to become pastors. Some individuals might also choose to pursue a doctorate degree to prepare to teach theology at the college or university level.
Classes and Assignments of a Theology Major
Theology majors can expect a liberal arts education with a mixture of lecture, seminar, and possibly research courses. Classes may include topics such as faith and culture, sacred texts, biblical languages, the history of religion, ethics, religion in politics, religion and social issues, and religious tradition. Additionally, theology students will often study other global religious texts and their foundational principles in relation to Christianity.
Some programs may also incorporate philosophy into their curriculums. Course work will be typical of other humanities majors, requiring a heavy amount of reading, writing, and in-class discussion. Depending on the professor and the school's curriculum requirements, some classes may also involve exams.
Degree Levels for a Theology Major
- Associate. Online associate theology degrees can be an excellent complements to existing degrees. In addition, an associate degree may serve as a stepping stone to additional study in the field. Graduates with an associate degree in theology may work as youth ministers or fill other staff positions at churches and religiously-affiliated non-profits.
- Bachelor's. While pursuing online bachelors theology degrees, students can expect a liberal arts education focused on reading, writing, and developing critical thinking skills. Courses will cover the history and traditions of religion, sacred texts, religion in culture and society, and philosophical views of religion. Online theological degrees are also available for non-traditional students. Graduates with a bachelor's degree in theology are qualified to teach in religiously affiliated elementary, middle, or secondary schools, work as church staff, youth ministers, or continue on to seminary to become pastors.
- Master's. Students interested in becoming theology professors or those looking to pursue their own personal passions may be interested in earning online masters theology degrees. Students enrolled in a master's degree program will explore advanced topics in the philosophical, social, and cultural significance of religion as well as conduct their own research. A number of accredited online theology degrees are available for those looking to accommodate a busy schedule. Many graduates of master's degree programs in theology choose to go on to doctoral programs with the goal of becoming college professors. Others pursue work in religion-based elementary, middle, and secondary schools, churches, religiously-affiliated non-profits, or continue on to seminary.
- Doctoral. For individuals interested in teaching theology at the postsecondary level, a doctoral degree is the best degree for future job opportunities. This is a research intensive degree, which requires students to have strong writing and critical thinking skills. Working adults also have options for completing their post grad online with flexible and self-paced programs. Graduates with a doctoral degree in theology are qualified to teach at the college or university level, work as youth ministers, or continue on to seminary.
A Future as a Theology Major
Theology majors may go on to work as youth ministers, church staff, teachers at religion-based elementary, middle, or secondary schools, or work at religiously-affiliated non-profits. Others may choose to go on to seminary to become pastors or pursue a doctoral degree to teach theology at the postsecondary level. In 2010, the median annual salary for philosophy and religion teachers at colleges and university was $69,460, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Please keep in mind, however, that salaries can vary based on the employer, years of experience, location, and the demand for professors. For those pursuing careers as youth ministers or pastors, salaries can fluctuate greatly based on the church. However, these workers are often provided with housing and other necessities, paid for by the congregation.