Why Study Religion?

Why Major in Religion?

Are you curious about people, societies, and cultures? Are you interested in the ideas and values that inspire and motivate people? Are you concerned about ideologies that inhibit progress or even spur people to violence? Religion is arguably the most powerful and pervasive force in the world. Majoring in religious studies can help you understand the complex and sometimes volatile relationships between religion and politics, economics, and social structures, as well as the ways in which the past (scripture, tradition, history) has helped shape the present. In our increasingly interdependent global community, awareness of various past and present features of religious life can lay the foundation for informed and thoughtful analysis of contemporary life.

As a religious studies student you will gain knowledge about diverse people around the globe, learn to critically read and analyze religious texts, develop skills in thinking about the relationships between religion and society, and hone your capacity for and confidence in engaging with topics related to religion in on-the-ground political, civic, or personal situations. Students majoring in religious studies are not only better equipped to understand people of very different backgrounds, but also learn much about themselves: how their ideas and values were formed, how they differ from others, and the significance of these differences. This is knowledge that will remain relevant for a lifetime.

What Can I Do With a Religion Major?

Religious studies majors and minors bring these capacities to the job market and their careers. While some pursue graduate study or careers in fields directly associated with religion, many others employ their skills in cross-cultural communication, critical reading and thinking, and thoughtful writing to perform a tremendous variety of professional tasks in many career fields, from education to law, non-profit and NGO work, business, governmental and diplomatic service, journalism and publishing, and many others. In fact, studying with UF’s Department of Religion (#UFReligion) is excellent preparation for graduate and professional studies in many fields.

This is because religion requires the exercise of advanced analytic skills that are inseparable from being able to think well.

Here’s the evidence:

  • They score in the top fifth of all majors on the verbal and analytical sections of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Moreover, they score high among the humanities majors on the quantitative portion of the GRE, and ahead of many mathematics intensive disciplines.
  • Humanities students also have higher rates of medical school acceptance then many science majors (so much for the idea that those majors won’t be able to compete with the STEM students).
  • Perhaps more interestingly, religion majors on average score higher than business majors on the GMAT, the entrance test for graduate business (if business is your path, religion is your major!).

The Religious Studies major is valuable in its own right but can also provide excellent preparation for a variety of occupations.