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The Breakdown

Why are we here? What happens after we pass on? Are there moral imperatives to which we should adhere? These “big” questions have endured throughout time. And in a search for answers, we often turn to religion. Indeed, no matter the specific faith, religion offers us a narrative through which we can interpret both our own lives and the world at large. If you’re fascinated by these philosophical queries (and interested in biblical stories to boot), then perhaps religion is the major for you!

As a religion major, your coursework will likely include introductory classes in the major faiths, from Christianity to Hinduism. You’ll closely analyze the texts and doctrines to which different religions ascribe and learn how these myths and ideas have been applied to everyday life. Moreover, you will study the implications of faith throughout history (and within society) and its role in the development of ethics. Be prepared for large amounts of reading, research and writing.

It’s not necessary to be pious in order to study religion. However, successful religion majors tend to be contemplative and thoughtful individuals. They are open minded and curious about beliefs that differ from their own. Additionally, they have strong critical thinking and writing skills. And, of course, they can quickly recite all Ten Commandments.

Nuts and Bolts

Religion majors are often required to take thought provoking courses such as Death and Afterlife, Religion and Society, Buddhist Ethics: Karma and Its Consequences, The New Testament, Faith and Political Violence, Islam in the Americas, Religions of Japan, The Hebrew Bible, The Problem of God, Feminist and Liberation Theologies, From Muslim to Christian Spain, The Bible and the Holocaust, American Indian Women: Myth, Ritual and Sacred Power, The Apostle Paul and The Problem of Evil and Suffering.

Decisions, Decisions…

Religion majors are curious about the way beliefs and ideologies form and the interplay between these philosophies and society at a large. Therefore, they might also be interested in studying sociology, philosophy, anthropology, political science, English, American studies, African-American studies, Asian studies, women’s studies, communication, rhetoric, African studies, history and psychology.

What’s Next?

Don’t jump to any rash conclusions about the professional lives of religion majors. Sure, they have an interest (and perhaps even a deep abiding passion for) theology but they don’t all enter seminary or become rabbis or monks. Similar to most liberal arts disciplines, religion majors ultimately land in any number of occupational settings. Indeed, their writing and critical thinking skills are likely applicable to a wide variety of positions and career tracks. For example, some religion majors eventually continue on to graduate study, pursuing MBAs, law, medical and other degrees. Others might find employment within the consulting or publishing industries. Education is frequently another popular route for a handful of religion majors. Finally, social work and politics are also common tracks.


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Don Munce