Is a Degree in Theological Studies Right For You?
Theology is a fascinating field that attracts students for a number of reasons. Students drawn to theology enjoy learning and the challenge of critical thinking. A degree in theology also opens up a number of both secular and religious careers.
Is religious education right for you? This of course depends on your interests and goals, but studying theology is a good choice for people with a surprisingly wide range of interests. Even students interested in careers outside of religion can benefit immensely from a theological education. International students in particular find that a degree in theological studies can open up international job opportunities.
What is Theology?
Theology is the study of religious thought and traditions. It takes seriously the philosophical, ethical, and metaphysical questions with which a religious tradition has grappled.
Theology versus Religious Studies
Religious studies degrees often take a more historical or sociological approach to studying religion. In a sense, theology is the study of a religion from within that religion's traditions and perspectives, while religious studies take a more external perspective.
With this distinction in mind, theology might be thought of as closer to philosophy, and religious studies closer to history or sociology. Theology and philosophy try to find the truth of metaphysical and ethical debates, while religious studies and social science study the context in which these debates occur.
Why Study Theology?
Students may be particularly drawn to theology for a number of reasons. Whether debating issues in religious ethics, critically analyzing arguments for God's existence, or contemplating a long-standing metaphysical debate, the modern student finds that the benefits of studying theology extend well beyond simple job opportunities.
Learn More About Yourself
Students may also be drawn to theology for the opportunities it brings to learn more about their own or other religious traditions. Many students who devote themselves to studying theology want to engage with the intellectual history of their faith and may want a religious career. Students drawn to studying faiths other than their own may find religious studies a more suitable degree, but even they should consider the unique perspective and insight that theological training can bring.
Learn About Religious Issues and Cultural Influences
International students in particular may find that a choice to study theology abroad is particularly rewarding. Going to other countries offers the possibility of studying a religion in the place where it was founded, or which play into the traditions and culture of your host country. Often these means a better chance of finding schools and teachers who have developed particular specialties that might not be found in one's home country.
Are You Made for a Theology Degree, Ask Yourself
A degree in theology isn’t for everyone, as it is systematically studying the concepts of God and religious truths. Some might call this heavy, others might find this the basis for life. Here are some questions to ask yourself to see if a degree in theology or religious studies is right for you:
- Do you enjoy questioning why things are the way they are?
- Do you find yourself reading religious texts on your free time?
- Have you found yourself spending an evening discussing religious truths?
- You don’t think debate is a bad word, you consider it a spiritual awaking.
- History and world religions are not just subjects taught in school – it’s a hobby!
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, then this chosen field may be a good fit for you! With so many career options to explore, there is no doubt that you’ll find yourself with an excellent skill set that can work in a number of fields. Check out our article on Careers in Theology if you’re ready to see where your passion can take you!