Are you drawn to think about who God is, how religion came into existence, and how religion continues to shape people’s lives? The answers to all your questions can be found in the study of theology. 

A theology degree is the study of religion. But it is not limited to just religious instruction. It expands across different fields of knowledge to cover many different subjects and ideas. You may think that theology seems to be a degree for individuals who wish to pursue a career in religion. That is partially true, while a theology degree is certainly best suited for individuals who want to build a career based on religion, it is also true that one can study theology for the pure joy of learning and intellectual curiosity.

Either way,  you’ll find that this degree has a lot to offer. A degree in theology not only offers a rich understanding of religion but also gives you a couple of really handy skills that can open up opportunities for employment in religious organizations or in fields such as education, research, and law.

If you desire to delve into the field of theology, then stick around as we discuss the many careers you will be prepared for, the education you will receive, and the kind of skills you will pick up. We will also answer any questions you may have along the way!

A degree in theology focuses on the study of religion, spirituality, and the divine. You can expect to study religious texts, doctrines, beliefs, and the historical and cultural contexts of various faith traditions. Your degree will leave you with a profound understanding of religious theories and you’ll pick up some valuable skills along the way. 

It might be hard to pin down every single thing you’ll learn, but if we are to name some common skills, they are critical thinking, ethical reasoning, effective communication, cultural competence, and the ability to analyze and interpret complex religious texts. Given the critical thinking and analytical skills that theology students build proficiency in, a lot of them do exceptionally well in exams like the graduate record examination (GRE), the law school admission test (LSAT), and the graduate management admission test (GMAT). 

Your theology degree can prepare you for careers within and outside the religious domain. You can be a perfect fit in different religious institutions, like churches and dioceses (non-clerical), lay religious organizations, religious primary and secondary schools, college divinity or humanities departments, college health services, nonprofits (faith-based and secular), and many more. 

With the skills that you learn, you can choose to take up careers within the religious field and with some additional training, you can also pursue relevant careers outside of the religious domain. Here are some of the many careers you can pursue after your degree in theology.

1. Chaplain

Chaplains offer spiritual guidance and support to people. They work in different locations, including prisons, hospitals, military bases, schools, and hospices. Along with providing spiritual support and counseling, chaplains also perform religious rites and conduct worship services. Chaplains usually work outside of the traditional church setting. To become a chaplain, you’d need a degree in theology or a related field. If you decide to work in a healthcare setting, then you’ll need to get clinical pastoral education (CPE) training and a residency program. You can then go ahead and get ordained to formally enter the clergy if you desire. The average annual salary that chaplains receive is $83,694.

2. Pastor

Pastors lead religious services in the church. They spread the word of God and teach people about the faith. To become a pastor, you would need to join a seminary. Most seminaries require students to hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Your bachelor’s degree in theology can be an excellent starting point for your religious journey. Pastors make an average annual salary of $48,513.

3. Theology professor

Theology professors teach students about religion and spirituality. You’d have the standard teacher duties like classroom teaching, grading assignments, and taking tests. To become a theology professor, you’d need to get your doctoral degree in the field of theology. The average annual salary for a theology professor is $161,863.

4. Church administrator 

A church administrator is in charge of the administration and financial operations of the church. Duties include preparing the budget, document work, maintenance, security checks, paying bills, and managing inventory. They make sure that the daily operations of the church are handled smoothly and efficiently. To become a church administrator, it is recommended that you get a bachelor’s degree in business or finance. It will also help if you are actively involved in church activities and get acquainted with the pastors. This will boost your chances of getting hired. The average annual salary for a church administrator is $54,197.

5. Missionary 

Missionaries go out to different places and communities to teach people about Jesus and the Christian faith. They also extend their help to people in the form of providing essentials like food, healthcare, and education. Missionaries can work both individually and with churches or agencies. While there are no specific educational requirements to become a missionary, it is beneficial to have a religion-centered degree, like one in theology or a relevant field. A full-time missionary earns an average annual salary of $45,710.

6. Social Worker

Social workers are professionals dedicated to helping individuals and communities cope with challenges like poverty, mental health issues, and family problems. After understanding the client’s needs, they develop intervention plans and connect them with resources and support services. To become a social worker, a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW) or another relevant degree is often required. You can also opt for a double major in both theology and social work. Social workers make a median annual wage of $55,350.

7. Counselor 

Counselors help individuals cope with their problems. With your degree in theology, you can go into spiritual counseling, like providing counseling on spiritual matters or helping people in their spiritual journey. You can go a step further and get a psychology degree or another relevant degree if you want to expand as a counselor and target a specific problem like substance abuse. Counselors make an average annual salary of $60,261.

Related: What Is Pastoral Counseling?

8. Writer

As a writer with a theological background, you can choose to write research papers or even books that are based on spirituality. Your critical thinking and research skills will come in handy as you explore this profession. Writers get paid a median annual salary of $73,150. Through the medium of your books, you can share your ideas and knowledge with other people and make a positive impact on their lives. 

These are some of the many possibilities after your degree in theology. Whether you’re drawn to serving your community through religious leadership, guiding individuals through spiritual and emotional challenges, or delving into scholarly research on religious traditions, a theology degree equips you with valuable skills and knowledge. Furthermore, as societies continue to grapple with questions of faith, morality, and meaning, the demand for individuals with expertise in theology remains strong. 

You will study some very interesting courses as you progress through your degree in theology. While the curriculum may vary across universities, here is a general idea of what the courses might look like.

1. Biblical Studies

You will learn to navigate and interpret the Old and New Testaments and acquire an understanding of biblical languages. This knowledge will help you learn the deeper meanings within the text. 

2. Systematic Theology

The course will help you systematically analyze and articulate fundamental theological doctrines. Through this, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the interconnected nature of key concepts within the Christian faith. 

3. Church History

This course examines the historical development of Christian traditions, examining key events, figures, and theological shifts that have shaped the evolution of religious institutions.

4. Ethics and Moral Philosophy

In this course, you will learn to engage with ethical theories and principles, cultivating skills in moral decision-making and exploring the application of ethical considerations within various theological contexts.

5. Philosophy of Religion

You will be prepared to critically examine philosophical issues related to religion, delving into debates surrounding the existence of God, religious experience, and responses to the problem of evil.

6. Comparative Religion

This course focuses on comparing and contrasting different religious traditions, gaining insights into their beliefs, practices, and cultural contexts.

7. Practical Theology

You will learn to apply theological principles to real-world situations, developing practical skills in areas such as pastoral care, counseling, and ministry.

8. Christian Theology and Culture

The purpose of this course is to analyze the dynamic interplay between theology and diverse cultural, social, and political contexts, understanding how Christian beliefs intersect with broader societal issues.

Through engaging courses that explore topics such as scripture study, theology, philosophy of religion, and comparative religion, you will gain valuable insights into the complexities of faith and its role in society. Additionally, opportunities for experiential learning, internships, and fieldwork allow you to apply your knowledge in real-world settings and develop practical skills for ministry, counseling, academia, and other careers.

In this section, we’ll delve into the compelling reasons why a theology degree is not only worthwhile but essential in today’s complex and interconnected world. From fostering critical thinking skills to preparing for meaningful careers in various fields, the study of theology opens doors to profound insights and opportunities.

1. Spiritual growth

Studying theology lets you deepen your understanding of religion, spirituality, and God. It is also a journey where you get the chance to reflect on your own relationship with the divine. As you study and understand religious texts deeply, you will understand your religion a lot better. 

2. Developing important skills

Throughout your degree, you will learn to critically analyze, problem-solve, and research. You will also polish your communication and writing skills. The skills you will learn can be put to use in several different jobs. Your versatile skill set makes you a valuable resource for employers and a suitable candidate for jobs. 

3. Intellectual growth 

Theological studies involve critical thinking, analysis, and interpretation of complex texts and ideas. This intellectual rigor can enhance cognitive skills and contribute to a well-rounded education. 

4. Understanding society 

Religion plays an important role in influencing people’s lives and decisions. Through an understanding of religion, you will be able to understand why people hold certain views and why they behave the way they do. This will enable you to better understand the problem at hand and pick out the most effective solution for it. 

5. Making a positive impact through your work

Through your theology degree, you could join several fields, like serving in the church, becoming a missionary, taking up counseling, or even writing a book to share your beliefs and ideas. Either way, there are a number of ways in which you can reach out to people to help them and make a positive difference in society.

6. Preparing to join the ministry 

For those aspiring to a life in ministry, a theology degree serves as a crucial stepping stone. It provides a solid foundation in biblical studies, systematic theology, and practical applications, preparing you to lead and serve within religious communities.

7. Personal fulfillment 

Your journey into the field of theology will help you explore some of life’s most profound questions, like the purpose of life, what gives meaning to life, and who our creator is. Through the study of theology, you will also understand ethical and moral decision-making that can make a difference in both your professional and personal lives.

Ultimately, studying theology offers a unique intellectual and spiritual journey that can enrich individuals personally and professionally, fostering a greater appreciation for the complexities of human existence.

After your bachelor’s degree in theology, you can build upon it with a master’s degree in divinity (MDiv). An MDiv can help you pursue careers as a pastor, minister, chaplain, missionary, and religious leader. This is a 2 to 4-year-long graduate degree program that combines theory with practice. A master’s degree in divinity can help you acquire a solid understanding and launch your career in these fields. 

A master’s degree in theology (ThM) is more on the academic side. It is about 1 to 2 years long and designed to build on your master’s degree in theology. This degree encourages students to study a niche topic within theology, for example, the Old Testament. This degree can be taken to gain further knowledge in a specific area or to re-engage with theological ideas after spending some time serving in a religious institute. 

Pursuing a master’s degree can help you advance your career by gaining more knowledge and skills. Your master’s degree can prepare you for leadership roles, advanced tasks, and new ventures. All in all, it’s an intellectually and personally rewarding experience.

Theology goes beyond just a degree; it is a profound journey into critical questions, beliefs, and traditions. As you explore this degree, you will learn many essential skills that will help you land a job of your choice within the religious realm. Theology also serves as an excellent base upon which you could build with other degrees. The knowledge you will acquire from your degree in theology will leave a profound mark on your life and the way you perceive things and make decisions. The study of theology can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience.

Should I do a degree in theology?

Whether or not you should pursue a degree in theology depends on your interests, career goals, and personal beliefs. If you have a strong interest in religious studies, theology, or related fields and you are passionate about exploring questions of faith, spirituality, and religious traditions, then a degree in theology could be a good fit for you. Additionally, if you are considering a career in ministry, religious education, counseling, or academia, a degree in theology could provide a solid foundation for those paths. However, it’s important to carefully consider your motivations and goals before making a decision.

What is the challenging part of a theology degree?

One of the challenging aspects of pursuing a theology degree is the depth and complexity of the subject matter. Theology involves the study of religious texts, doctrines, history, philosophy, ethics, and other related topics, often from multiple perspectives and traditions. This can require a significant amount of reading, research, critical thinking, and writing. Additionally, theology can involve grappling with questions of faith, doubt, and meaning, which can be intellectually and emotionally demanding.