Theology is an extremely versatile degree that can be used in a variety of settings. Pursuing a degree in religious studies or theology is an excellent place to start if you are interested in working for a religious institution, or if you would simply like to learn more about the human search for meaning, and its different manifestations around the world. In this guide, we present a few great schools for pursuing a degree in theology, associations you can join, journals you can read, and a list of further resources to guide you along the way to earning an education in theology. [Photo courtesy of Creighton University]
Theology Education Overview
- Holders of a theology degree can work in hospitals, child care, substance abuse facilities, as missionaries, clergy, writers, youth group leaders, heads of religious programs, or teachers.
- Members of the clergy are rated as having the highest percentage of job satisfaction at 87% of all other occupations polled.
- Members of the clergy make an average of about $47,000 per year. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
- Of all bachelor’s degree holders in the fields of philosophy, religion, and theology, only about 30% are women.
(National Center for Education Statistics)
- Several degrees are available for theology students, including bachelor’s degrees in theology, divinity, and religious education; master’s in divinity, religion, and theology; and a doctorate in ministry, divinity, and theology.
- The number of master’s degrees issued in theology and religious vocations has more than doubled since the 1970s.
(National Center for Education Statistics )
Five Great Theology Schools
- Boston University School of Theology: This school began in 1839, though it only became officially known as the Boston University School of Theology in 1871. This school was the first seminary to start teaching American Methodism. There are certificates available in evangelism, spiritual formation, and sacred music; masters in divinity, ministry, theology; and combined degrees with social work.
- Duke Divinity School: There are just over 500 students studying at this divinity school, pursuing master’s degrees in divinity, theology, and theological studies, and doctorates in theology. Students can also opt to enroll in dual-degree programs, combining the Master of Theological Studies with a Juris Doctor law degree, or a Master of Divinity with a Master of Social Work. There are various study-abroad opportunities as well.
- Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University: Located in Berkeley, California, the Jesuit School of Theology offers several degrees, ranging from bachelor’s to doctorate’s, in sacred theology, divinity, and theological studies. JST-SCU’s mission is to equip students as teachers and academics to serve the Church to the best of their ability.
- Texas Lutheran University: Texas Lutheran University is located in Seguin, Texas, just outside of San Antonio. TLU students have the option to choose from three concentrations while studying theology: pre-seminary, youth ministry, and liberal arts. The department also offers courses in philosophy, Greek, and Hebrew.
- The Catholic University of America: Located in Washington, D.C., this university has about 7,000 students in total pursuing degrees from 12 different schools. They offer certificates in pastoral ministry, bachelor’s degrees in theology and religious studies, and doctorates in sacred theology and ministry, among others.
- American Theological Inquiry: This journal, created to promote the culture, history, and theology of Christianity, is available in PDF format for free online. New issues are released twice a year, in January and in July.
- Harvard Theological Review: This 100-year-old journal is published four times a year. It publishes research in the field of theology as it relates to a variety of topics, including the Bible, ethics, and Jewish studies.
- Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory: This periodical includes interviews, articles relating to ethics and philosophy, and book reviews. All reading material is available online for free.
- Journal of Philosophy and Scripture: Published on a yearly basis, this electronic journal is interested in investigating the links and interrelations between sacred texts and philosophy. The journal is edited by Villanova University students pursuing graduate degrees in philosophy.
- The Denver Journal: Issued by the Denver Seminary, this journal publishes articles on topics including the Old Testament, the New Testament, philosophy of religion, counseling, and communication.
- The Ecumenical Review: This journal is issued by the World Council of Churches and is published four times a year. Each publication explores Christian unity from the perspective of a certain topic or theme.
Theological and Religious Studies Associations
- American Academy of Religion: The AAR promotes the contemplation of religious matters as a means of understanding their role in today’s society. The membership fees are based on a sliding scale, ranging from $15 to $200.
- Society for the Scientific Study of Religion: This society seeks to encourage a partnership between academics and professionals in the fields of science, religion, and more. Memberships range in price from $15 per year for students to $100 for others.
- Society of Biblical Literature: This society was founded over 120 years ago. Its purpose is to encourage the study of the Bible and provide a network for members.
- The American Catholic Philosophical Association: This association seeks to explore philosophical ideas in a Catholic context. Membership is open to students.
- The Association of Practical Theology: The APT was created as a forum for discussions regarding the interpretation of theology. The cost for students is $25 per year, and all others pay $50.
- Internet Sacred Text Archive: ISTA has an abundance of free religious literature online. Practically every major world religion is covered, including other lesser known and obscure ideologies.
- ReligiousTolerance.Org: This is a great resource for those who are interested in all types of religions. Several modern issues are touched upon as well, such as abortion and transexuality, as they relate to religion.
- Rock and Theology:This is a fascinating blog that looks at how rock and theology, faith, and culture relate to each other. The blog is written by professors of theology and religious studies, theology students, and a singer.
- The Association of Religion Data Archives: Supported by and housed at Pennsylvania State University, this site provides free access to a range of religious data. There are some fascinating poll results on a number of topics, such as religious affiliation and beliefs.
- Theology Online: This forum is a great place for theology and religious study buffs to come together to discuss theology, religion, and ethical dilemmas.
- Top 50 Blogs by Divinity Students: This list, created by the Divining Blog, breaks their list into undergraduate, graduate, doctorate, and student group blogs. Each item comes with a short description of the blog.