Accredited online masters in religion, theology and religious studies degrees are designed to prepare students who have a calling to lead others spiritually and religiously in the ministries and denominations they serve.
Online graduate degrees in religious studies also form a basis for an academic study of religion, and continuing education with a focus on earning a Ph.D. in religion, religious studies or other academic discipline.
Grand Canyon University is a private Christian university. It was also ranked number one by the Online Education Database in 2007.
Liberty University is an accredited online Christian college and the world's largest evangelical university offering these religion graduate programs.
While online graduate degrees in religious studies come in different specializations designed to educate in various aspects of religion, most religion degrees have a strong focus on Christianity. Most online masters in religion include course studies like Old Testament History, New Testament History, issues in interpretation, Christian theology, Jesus, the Ministry of the Holy Spirit, and other Christian topics.
General online religious studies programs or studies of religions other than Christianity tend to be more scholarly in their approach and offer a wider range of subject matter incorporating various religions. Secular religion degrees may include several fields of study, such as Buddhist studies, Jewish studies, Islamic studies or the more general Modern Religious Thought, Ethics & Philosophy. These programs are ideal for students who seek a more academic understanding of each religion and its role in society, in contrast to the more ministry-driven religion degrees offered by Christian schools.
An online master of divinity degree with an emphasis in Missional Leadership, for example, prepares students to lead missions to educate and help disadvantaged populations. Learners who complete online graduate degrees in religious studies in Missional Leadership may travel overseas to deliver aid and teach Christian worship and theology. An online master of divinity degree with an emphasis in Pastoral Counseling, might prepare students to work within their own ministry at home and offer counseling based on Christian theology.
Many types of opportunities and work environments exist with a masters degree on religion, from ministering to leading missions overseas. Those who earn a campus or an online masters in religion often go on to become pastors, Christian educators and missionaries, or use their religion degrees to provide counseling and minister to parishioners in other ways.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for clergy members employed by religious organizations in 2009 was $46,550. Clergy employed in hospitals and home health care services have a similar median wage, while clergy in nursing care facilities have a median salary of $41,860. The salary for mission leaders varies widely as many missions are led by volunteer and not-for-profit organizations.
Peopler who choose more secular programs and go on to academic opportunities typically work in college settings as professors. The average wage for professors in 2009 was $76,147, with associate professors coming in at $63,827 and assistant professors earning $45,977.
Anthropologists who earn a masters of religion may be employed by the government, by colleges or by specific organizations whose goal is to research certain locations or fields of study.
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