What is Religious Studies? The Department of Religious Studies at UCSB is unique among California universities, state universities, and colleges. The courses it offers address the critical issues relating to the subject of religion in its many facets: historical, cultural, literary, aesthetic, sociological, experiential, and philosophical. In introductory and advanced courses, its faculty – respected in their fields nationally and internationally – regularly teach about the religions of the world, and about the complex relationships between religion and politics, society, war, and everyday life.
A student majoring in Religious Studies gains sound general knowledge about religion East and West, ancient and modern. Careful selection of upper-division electives enables the undergraduate major to pursue a concentration in a variety of religious traditions. Students also become familiar with the ideas and methods employed in the critical study of religious phenomena. Enterprising students can qualify for a double major in Religious Studies and some other major field such as English, history, anthropology, political science, philosophy, art, or economics.
How Can I Tell If I Would Like Religious Studies?
Students should be interested in interpreting documents, constructing arguments, and evaluating the coherence of their own and others’ belief systems. They should want to learn about historical, philosophical and anthropological approaches to profound religious questions. Religious Studies students are invited to think from a variety of perspectives about religion, society and the world in which we live. A background in Religious Studies can help develop character and personal skills which are extremely important in most job situations: specifically, the abilities to listen carefully and critically; think clearly; analyze and organize ideas; write; defend one’s position rationally; stimulate discussion; and question, confront, support, evaluate, reshape, and understand different points of view.
What Are Potential Topics Within This Major?
Although the following list can provide students with topics that may be covered in this major, look at the UCSB catalog and consult with the Undergraduate Department Advisor for more detailed information about requirements and course offerings.
South Asian traditions
East Asian traditions
Jewish, Islamic, and Near Eastern traditions
Christian, Mediterranean, and European traditions
Traditions of the Americas
To learn more about whether you might enjoy this major, check with a peer in the Career Resource Room for details on:
- Focus 2 to explore college majors and careers.
- The Strong Interest Inventory®, an assessment that compares your interests against six broad categories of work. This assessment helps match your interests and suggests potential careers to explore.
What Are Some Possible Career Options?
Note: On its own, your major does not dictate what your job will be. The following list provides only a handful of possibilities. Religious Studies majors with strong liberal arts background may pursue career options in many fields. Depending on experience, specialized coursework, and possible graduate study, options include:
Nursing Home Director
Public Service Official
To learn more about these and other occupations, please visit:
Occupational Outlook Handbook
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See what other UCSB alumni are doing with their major on LinkedIn.
Why Study Religion?
Provides information about studying religion, including a general overview, possible careers, and misconceptions about the field of study (provided by the American Academy of Religion).
What Can I Do With a Degree in Religious Studies?
A nice overview of the major and some possible occupations.
Majors and Careers: Religious Studies
From Skidmore College, answers the question, "What can I do with this major?" and offers some practical job-hunting advice.
Religious Studies Majors
Gives a brief introduction, sample of related occupations, and types of employers for Religious Studies majors.
Religious Studies Major
Provides a description, examples of specializations, and potential jobs for Religious Studies majors.
Check out “What Can I do with a major in…?” under Focus 2.
Build your qualifications by exploring various opportunities to get experience in your field of interest.
UCSB Career Services “Job Search” section
Check out job links in the following categories: Local/CA, National, Industry Specific, and UCSB Careers By Majors.
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Search for jobs in various locations related to religious studies.
Chronicle of Higher Education
The first stop for many individuals seeking employment in colleges and universities.
The U.S. government has jobs for everything. Religious studies majors may find positions of interest in regard to social service and welfare issues.
American Academy of Religion
The world's largest association of academics who research or teach topics related to religion.
International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR)
A worldwide body of national and regional associations for the academic study of religion.
Religion Newswriters Foundation
A prominent association for journalists who cover religion.
Society for the Scientific Study of Religion
The Society for the Scientific Study of Religion stimulates, promotes, and communicates social scientific research about religious institutions and experiences.