What Can You Do With a Theology Degree? Careers To Consider
Updated 9 December 2022
A theology degree is helpful for individuals aspiring to work in dioceses, archdioceses, publishing, public policy, legislation and even medicine. With this degree, you can choose to go for postgraduate studies or get a job. In this article, we discuss the question 'what can you do with a theology degree?' including requirements to study theology and types of degrees in theology.
What is theology?
Theology examines the different religions that exist in the world and their societal impact. Theological studies explore how people and cultures express their faith. They help students understand the effect of tradition, laws and morals on society.
Theology is a practical degree where you learn to read, write and think carefully and critically. You spend time questioning the meaning of religion, comparing different religions and debating about the nature of God. You may study the relationship between the church and indigenous people, women or other social groups. You also learn to speak persuasively. It's a combination of religion, philosophy, history and anthropology.
What do you learn in a theology degree?
What you learn in a theology degree depends on the course requirements and your module choice as a student. Some courses cover a variety of different religions, while others examine one or two religions. While exploring different faiths, students learn how to interpret religious texts such as the Quran and Bible. A typical class setting involves students discussing the significance of religion, religious texts and their interpretation.
Studying theology might require learning an ancient language such as Hebrew, ancient Greek, Latin or Arabic to enable a better understanding of religious texts. You can acquire various skills while learning theology, such as writing, critical thinking, historical analysis and problem study. With these skills, you can pursue a wide variety of careers, which is why theology graduates can work in almost any field, be it accountancy, politics, journalism or the police force.
Requirements to study theology
There are no specific subject requirements for students considering theological studies. You might need experience in essay writing. You can take essay writing subjects, such as history, English or philosophy, to help you improve your writing skills and prepare you for the theology degree.
Types of theology degree
There are various types of theology degrees available, these include:
Associate degree in theology
An associate degree programme in theology takes about two years to complete. This programme examines the basic tenets of theology and an introduction to philosophy, religious traditions and influences. There are two types of associate degrees in theology, the associate of arts (AA) and the associate of science (AS).
If you're more concerned with the scientific principles and anthropological aspects of religion, AS might be a better choice. Students can gain skills like communication and research skills while studying this course. In addition, earning an associate degree in theology can get you an entry-level position with a religious, community-based or non-profit organisation.
Bachelor of theology
A bachelor of theology course takes three to four years to complete. This course explores historical theology. You get to analyse the works of famous theologians and philosophers and study religious texts, such as the Bible, to have a deeper understanding of them. Completing this degree can qualify you for roles in religious and community organisations. You can also pursue postgraduate studies to advance in your career path.
Related: What Is a Bachelor's Degree?
Master of theology
The master of theology (ThM) is a postgraduate degree in which students enrol to study specialised and advanced courses in theology. It takes about one to two years to complete this course. With this theology degree, you can go on to become a chaplain, minister or religious counsellor. You can also teach theology in some graduate schools and seminaries. A ThM degree also allows you to pursue a PhD degree in theology.
Doctorate in theology
A doctorate in theology takes three to four years to complete. It is the highest academic degree in theology. It involves advanced coursework and a dissertation. After completion, you can teach at a university, lead a congregation and conduct field research.
What can you do with a theology degree?
If you're wondering what you can do with a theology degree, consider these options:
Religious studies teacher
You can be a theology teacher for primary or secondary schools—many theology graduates secure teaching positions. Teaching jobs require skill sets such as communication, patience, adaptability and passion for teaching. Teaching jobs allow you to communicate with students from various backgrounds and enjoy other activities such as day trips to new and exciting places.
You also get more free time as schools go on more holidays compared to the average workplace. If you have no bachelor's degree in education, earning a recognised teaching qualification is the first step to take. You can get Qualified Teaching Status (QTS) or a Professional Diploma in Education (PGDE) teaching certificate.
You can choose to become a university theology lecturer to pass on your knowledge of theology to university students. Your responsibilities may involve preparing teaching materials, delivering lectures, assessing students, setting and marking exams, offering support to students and delivering seminars. You may also develop new teaching methods and get approval from educational authorities before implementing the plans. In addition, you may undertake personal research projects, supervise other research groups, including your students' research and write and publish research papers. Finally, you may get to attend theology-related conferences and seminars and carry out administrative tasks in your department.
Getting more educational qualifications such as a PhD in theology can qualify you to be a university lecturer. Universities require lecturers to have expertise and experience in their area of study, they also want people with extensive research and administrative experience. You might not need a teaching license, but you need lots of teaching experience. It's sometimes easier to become a university lecturer if you start as a teaching assistant at a university. The skills required to be a university lecturer are similar to those for teaching.
Chaplains are religious figures who support and counsel their religious members or anyone in need of guidance. They work in various places such as churches, social care organisations, hospitals, universities, colleges, armed forces, prisons and sports organisations. Their responsibilities include support and counselling, writing reports and performing other administrative tasks.
Aside from having a theology degree, you may need other qualifications, but this depends on where you're applying to work. Skills required to succeed as a chaplain include communication and interpersonal skills since you may work with people from various backgrounds listening and proffering solutions to their problems. Working hours may be the regular nine to five, but this depends on the organisation you choose to work. For example, if you work in a hospital setting, you may be required to work at night and at the weekend.
If you're passionate about working with youths, especially those aged 11-25, you can consider becoming a youth worker after your degree. A youth worker aims to make a difference in young people's lives, providing them with the guidance and support to excel and reach their full potential. You offer advice in areas such as their personal, social and educational endeavours. You can apply as a youth worker in settings such as schools, colleges, youth centres and faith-based groups.
Some organisations might require individuals applying as youth workers to hold an undergraduate degree in youth work. Since you already have a theology degree, you can get a postgraduate degree in youth work or other relevant courses. Also, it's beneficial to gain work experience before applying for the role. Luckily, there are a lot of voluntary work opportunities in the youth work field. A career as a youth worker may require travelling for various meetings and youth activities. You may work beyond the regular 5 pm and on weekends too.
Related: How To Become a Youth Worker
Being a religious minister is another possible career with a theology degree. Ministers have the responsibility of conducting and supervising spiritual functions in churches or other worship places. They deliver sermons during services, officiate marriage ceremonies, participate in social and welfare activities, pay home visits and offer religious advice. They also provide people with guidance, counselling and motivation when necessary.
Depending on your faith and interest, you can choose to become a priest, imam, monk or rabbi. The employment requirement depends on your choice. In general, you need some form of educational qualifications and experience to become a minister of religion. Skills required include communication and interpersonal skills to relate with people of different races and ages.
Other careers you can do with a theology degree include:
community development worker
civil service administrator
religious education director
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