This page helps prospective college students find the best online bachelor's degree in comparative religion. You can also learn more about typical courses and application requirements and peruse a ranking of the top online bachelor's programs in comparative religion.
Additionally, this page offers vital information about potential careers and answers a few frequently asked questions.
What Are the Best Comparative Religion Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top Ten:
|1||University of Central Florida||Orlando, FL|
|2||Florida International University||Miami, FL|
|3||Arizona State University||Scottsdale, AZ|
|4||Athens State University||Athens, AL|
|5||Saint Leo University||Saint Leo, FL|
|6||Liberty University||Lynchburg, VA|
|7||Eastern New Mexico University||Portales, NM|
|8||King University||Bristol, TN|
|9||California State University, Chico||Chico, CA|
|10||Chaminade University of Honolulu||Honolulu, HI|
Earning an online bachelor's degree in comparative religion provides you with specialized knowledge. In addition to religious courses, these programs include general education courses that convey transferable skills. These skills can help prepare you to succeed in many jobs that attract recent college graduates with a liberal arts degree.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many religious workers in the United States earn median salaries between $32,000 and $44,000 per year. This field includes a variety of positions, from counselors to administrative assistants.
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2020 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Comparative Religion Programs
University of Central Florida
|Orlando, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 73%||
Located in Orlando, the University of Central Florida enrolls more than 69,000 students and confers over 16,000 degrees each academic year.
Students interested in earning a bachelor's in comparative religion can enroll in UCF's online religion and cultural studies program, which prepares students for careers as clergy members, foreign service officers, volunteer coordinators, and humanitarian workers. Online learners must complete a senior research seminar as a capstone project.
Participants take core courses such as religion and psychoanalysis; critical theory in the humanities; philosophy, religion, and the environment; and key figures in religion and cultural studies.
First-year and transfer applicants must submit standardized test scores. Florida residents receive a discounted tuition rate. UCF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Florida International University
|Miami, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 58%||
Founded in 1965, Florida International University was Miami's first public research university. The university's online bachelor's in religious studies features 36 credits of major-related courses, including core classes in Abrahamic religions; Asian religions; indigenous and other religions; and society, culture, and ethics. Students also complete a capstone course.
First-time applicants must submit standardized test scores. Transfer students with associate degrees from a Florida public institution automatically satisfy all lower-division university requirements. New students enroll in the fall, spring, and summer.
Out-of-state learners pay higher rates than in-state students. FIU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Arizona State University
|Scottsdale, AZ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 48%||
Located in Scottsdale, Arizona State University graduates more than 20,000 students each year. The school's online bachelor's in religious studies features core classes in religion and popular culture; religions of the world; American religious traditions; and women, gender, and religion.
Students must also complete a pair of capstone seminar courses, where they develop research skills and then produce an original project in religious studies. Graduates of the program can find work as religious education directors and counselors.
First-year applicants must meet at least one of the following requirements: place in the top 25% of their high school graduating class, hold a minimum 3.0 GPA in competency classes, or meet minimum ACT or SAT score requirements. ASU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Athens State University
|Athens, AL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Based in Alabama, Athens State University enrolls over 3,000 students. The university only offers coursework at the junior, senior, and graduate levels.
The school's online bachelor's in religion is a degree completion program and includes core classes like essentials of biblical studies, introduction to Christian thought, sociology of religion, and moral values in today's society. Students also complete a religious studies capstone course and take an exit exam.
Applicants need at least 36 transferable credits — 15 of which meet general university requirements — and a minimum 2.0 GPA. Alabama residents receive a discounted tuition rate. Athens State is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Saint Leo University
|Saint Leo, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 51%||
Based in central Florida, Saint Leo University is the oldest Catholic institution in the state. The university enrolls over 13,000 students online.
One of the school's online offerings is a bachelor of arts in religion. This program features classes in the foundations of Christian faith; theological, moral, and spiritual aspects of marriage and sexuality; and women in the church.
Students who earn this bachelor's degree can pursue careers as religious education directors and conflict resolution specialists. Graduates may also pursue a master's in religion or a related field.
The program accepts applications on a rolling basis. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or a GED certificate. Saint Leo is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
|Lynchburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
Based in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University offers more than 450 online programs. The school's online bachelor's in religion requires an average of 3.5 years to complete. Additionally, the program allows students to transfer in up to 75% of their credits.
Students can choose between nine different specializations, including biblical and theological studies, Christian counseling, global studies, and Christian leadership. Graduates of this program often pursue work at local churches and nonprofit organizations.
All applicants need a minimum 2.0 GPA. Active-duty military members — along with discharged and retired service members — receive a discounted tuition rate. Liberty is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Eastern New Mexico University
|Portales, NM||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 35%||
Located in Portales, Eastern New Mexico University features over 90 programs and reports a 97% student satisfaction rate. The university offers an online bachelor's in religion as a bachelor of science or a bachelor of arts. The BA program requires a foreign language component, while the BS curriculum includes more math and science classes.
Students in either program take classes synchronously and asynchronously through Blackboard — ENMU's online learning platform. Some core courses include principles of textual interpretation, history of religion in American, the New Testament, and the history of Christianity.
First-year applicants need to submit standardized test scores. In-state and out-of-state distance learners pay the same tuition rate. ENMU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
|Bristol, TN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 46%||
Based in Bristol, Tennessee, King University offers more than 90 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Students who want to earn an online bachelor's degree in comparative religion may be interested in King's bachelor's in religious studies. The curriculum of this program includes core classes like understanding the worlds' religions, introduction to theology and theological thinking, religion and politics in a global context, and the life and teachings of Jesus.
Students can complete all major core requirements in roughly 16 months. Each class lasts about five weeks. Graduates of this program can pursue careers as religious historians and counselors.
The program allows participants to bring in up to 76 transfer credits. Applicants need a high school diploma or GED certificate and a minimum GPA of 2.2. King is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
California State University, Chico
|Chico, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 66%||
California State University, Chico enrolls over 16,000 students. Among the school's many offerings is an online bachelor's in religious studies that serves as a degree completion program. Only students with at least 60 credits of completed college coursework should apply.
Students pursuing this degree take core courses like religion, politics, and conflict; religion and nature; Judaism, Christianity, and Islam since the Crusades; and theories and criticisms of religion. The program also requires participants to complete a capstone course. Online learners typically complete their degree in about two years, and they may transfer in up to 70 credits.
Chico State is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Chaminade University of Honolulu
|Honolulu, HI||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
Chaminade University of Honolulu educates about 2,200 learners annually. The school offers an online bachelor's in religious studies that includes core courses in religion, science, and the modern prospect; Jesus, God, and man; the Christian God and the human experience; and Hebrew scriptures.
Students enrolled in this program must complete a capstone project in transformational leadership or a senior seminar. Graduates can go on to teach in religious schools, enter a seminary, or enroll in graduate school.
Applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA and must submit standardized test scores. Students in this program can bring in up to 45 transfer credits from a regionally accredited institution. Chaminade is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Online Bachelor's in Comparative Religion Program Overview
An online bachelor's degree in comparative religion includes a major curriculum with specialized courses. Learners also complete general education requirements — coursework in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Depending on the program you select, you may also have the opportunity to complete a minor or second major.
Learning outcomes vary between programs, but most participants improve their communication and analytical skills. Graduates also learn to recognize similarities and differences between different religions and understand how religion affects society.
Online bachelor's programs in comparative religion typically have a website that details the program's intended student learning outcomes. These outcomes can indicate whether the program prepares learners for a career, graduate study, or either.
Once you decide what you would like to do after graduation, you can prepare by taking the appropriate courses. An academic advisor can help you choose courses that align with your educational and career goals.
Common Bachelor's in Comparative Religion Courses
- Religious Conflict In Israel/Palestine
This course combines both history and scripture to help students understand why the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians persists. Learners compare and contrast Jewish and Muslim belief systems, analyze current events, and examine both sides' reasons for not negotiating peace. This course also explores the role of Christianity in the international community.
- The Bible in Historical Context
Students research how events that occurred around the Bible's writing influenced the final text. Topics include the oral tradition that led to many biblical stories, historical debates, and how the Bible impacts modern American society. Degree-seekers may take this course after passing an introductory comparative religion course.
- Independent Study
Degree-seekers planning to enter a master's or doctoral program should take an independent study course. These courses involve working one-on-one with a professor to select a research topic. After completing original research, students write an extended essay. Learners can use this essay as part of their graduate school application portfolio.
- Religion in Japan
This class explores the different religious beliefs that influence Japanese culture. Both Shintoism and Buddhism play a role in the nation's spiritual life. This course also presents a historical view of Japanese religions.
- Islam in America
This course looks at historical events that have influenced Muslim communities and how these communities react to changes in American culture. Additional topics include Muslim women's role in modern society and how popular media depicts Islam.
Online Bachelor's in Comparative Religion Admission Requirements
High School Transcripts
Make sure to request transcripts from your high school well before application deadlines. After a college accepts you, they can request transcripts that include your final senior grades.
High School Prerequisites
Many colleges and universities require that applicants take specific high school prerequisites. Typical courses include four years of English, three years of natural sciences, and at least two years of a foreign language.
Standardized Test Scores
Along with your high school transcripts, your standardized test scores indicate your college preparedness. Many colleges require ACT or SAT scores from first-year applicants. Schools may also use these scores to help determine merit-based financial aid.
Recommendation letters allow admissions counselors to see you as more than your grades and test scores. Ask at least two teachers for a letter and give them ample time to prepare their recommendations.
If you have already earned an associate degree or undergraduate credits, submit your undergraduate transcripts. Previous credits may exempt you from multiple courses, saving you time and money. Some online bachelor's programs in comparative religion serve as degree completion pathways; these require a substantial number of transfer credits, as they may not offer general education courses online.
Online Bachelor's in Comparative Religion Career Paths
Typical career fields for comparative religion graduates include counseling, public relations, and teaching. Many of these positions require a bachelor's degree.
Additionally, after earning an entry-level job, you may discover that advancement requires a graduate degree. Consult your college's career advisors long before graduation; you may discover that entering a master's program right after graduating from college (instead of starting a career) is a better decision.
As you research careers, determine whether they require a state-issued license or professional certificate. If you plan to teach at a public school, your college may allow you to combine your comparative religion degree with a teacher preparation program that leads to licensure.
Related CareersMinistry and Theology Careers
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is comparative religion study?
An online bachelor's degree in comparative religion emphasizes religious beliefs throughout history. Students also study the similarities and differences these religions share. Coursework involves reading religious texts, performing original research, and holding discussions with peers and professors through online message boards.
- What can you do with a comparative religion degree?
Like most liberal arts tracks, a comparative religion program teaches skills that you can use in a graduate program or an entry-level career. With many potential academic and career paths, you should work closely with your college's career advisors to figure out what you would like to do.
- How much money do theologians make?
Typical salaries vary widely depending on a worker's role. For example, postsecondary philosophy and religion teachers in the United States earn median salaries of about $75,000 per year, while directors of religious activities at local churches and community groups earn closer to $44,000. Salaries also differ based on an individual's experience, job responsibilities, and location.
- What kind of jobs can you get with a comparative religion degree?
Popular careers for comparative religion alumni include teachers and counselors. These jobs may require additional education, professional experience, and/or licensure or certification.
- Is comparative religion a good career?
Many good jobs require professionals with knowledge of and empathy for people from different religious and cultural backgrounds. After earning an online bachelor's degree in comparative religion, you can find a position that lets you make a positive impact in your community.
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