The best online master’s degree programs in religion prepare students for careers in ministry, pastoral management or religious instruction. Though many online religion masters degree: programs do not require students to hold a traditional or online bachelor’s degree in religion, prospective students should have a solid background in religious studies before enrolling. Those students who want to enter university teaching careers can go on to pursue an online PhD in religion after completing a master’s degree. Fortunately for these students, many online master’s degrees in religion are designed to prepare students specifically for a PhD program. Most online master’s degree religion programs require students to complete a thesis or a capstone project before graduation.
What are the admission requirements for an online master’s in religion?
Top online masters degree programs in religion commonly require students to submit the following for admissions purposes:
- Application form
- Undergraduate transcripts
- Personal statement or Essay
- Letters of recommendation
Candidates for these programs typically should have either a bachelors degree in religion or in a related field, such as:
- Cultural Studies
What types of online master’s degrees in religion can students pursue?
Students can pursue one of several different online masters degrees in religion at accredited online schools.
Students often pursue concentrations in order to become a specialist in a specific discipline.
Common areas of focus for online degree students include:
- Islamic Studies: Online master in religion students will study the Qur’an and Hadith to understand the scriptural backbone of Islamic law and culture. They will examine Sunni and Shia Islam and the Sufi and Tariqa sects, and will discuss the evolution of Islam as practiced by adherents around the world.
- Ancient Christianity: Students will examine the first seven centuries of Christian development. They will take courses in Latin, Greek, Syriac and Coptic in order to read Egyptian and Judean papyri and learn about early Christian mythology.
- Religious Traditions in India: Students will research dominant religions in India, including Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, by studying Vedic poetry and philosophy in original Sanskrit. They will also study Tantric meditation techniques, which lie at the heart of these religions.
- Modern Religious Thought: Students will analyze works by contemporary theologians such as Karl Rahner and Bernard Lonergan and will discuss the philosophies of Aristotle, Plotinus and Aquinas to learn about the foundations of modern religious thought. They will also consider the social challenges that modernity poses to fundamentalist religion, such as the growth of skeptical inquiry and the secularization of law and education.
- Jewish Studies: Students will learn about the ancient, medieval and modern incarnations of Judaism, examining their influence on literature and philosophy. Students will also read the Tanakh in original Hebrew and trace its canonization from 200 BCE to 200 CE.
What can students expect to learn in an online religion master’s degree program?An online master degree in religion teaches students the values, beliefs and practices of world religions and how they were molded by historic events. These programs also develop practical skills in critical interpretation and foreign languages.
Some classes which are popular among students enrolled in top online masters programs in religion include:
- Philosophy of Religion: This course explores the moral questions commonly addressed by religions. Students in accredited religion masters degree online programs study the works of major religious philosophers, from Avicenna and Epicurus to Plato and Descartes.
- New Testament Studies: Most online master’s degree religion programs include a course on the New Testament. Students learn how early Christians consolidated religious texts into a single canon, the New Testament, and how it has evolved since.
- Research in Theology: Students in this course focus on scientific methods and data collection techniques as they relate to religious studies. They survey the use of these practices in areas such as religious history and textual study.
What careers can students pursue after graduating from religion masters programs online?
There is a variety of different job options that online religion masters programs graduates may choose from.
Some careers graduates can choose from include:
- Religion Teacher: Religion teachers instruct students in the many aspects of religious studies in both religious and secular schools. Religion teachers typically earn $61,000 per year. Employment in this field is projected to grow about 7% by 2020.
- Religion Writer: Religious writers produce magazine articles, contribute to newsletters and produce sermons and other religious works. Writers earn a median salary of $55,420. The growth rate for writing jobs is 6%, with 6,500 new writers expected to enter the job market by 2020.
- Clergyperson: Clergy oversee temple rituals, write and lecture on holy texts and counsel followers. Though some faiths have religion-specific seminaries, students from secular religious studies programs can still enter clergy positions if they have graduate degrees. Wages vary, but the median income for a clergyperson is $44,140. Growth in this field is expected to exceed 10% by 2020.