Religion

What Is It?:

Religion is central to all aspects of human life and it profoundly shapes the thought and values of its adherents. Students study the diverse myths, rituals, original texts, and moral systems of the world's many different religious traditions. Religion, like other liberal arts majors, provides an extraordinary opportunity to think about the core beliefs of civilizations past and present.  While it's true that Religion is a very good major for students who want to go on to seminaries for further training as religious professionals, it is also, however, an excellent way to prepare for other professions. 

Religion allows students to significantly improve critical thinking and writing skills. which are of strong importance to today's employers. It also makes for an interesting topic during job interviews. Employers are frequently intrigued and comment about the major choice, giving students additional opportunities for demonstrating how their knowledge and insight about the world is relevant to the position.

For more information, please visit the Department of Religion.

Concentrations:

  • Buddhism
  • Christianity
  • Hinduism
  • Islam
  • Judaism
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Religion in America
  • Individually designed area of study approved by departmental advisor

Courses That Introduce the Major:

  • HIST 141—Western Civ to 1660
  • HIST 142—Western Civ Since 1660
  • RLST 110—World Religions

Students should consult with an academic advisor regarding course selection prior to the advanced registration period.

Possible Career Opportunities:

The emphasis in religious studies courses on developing analytical thinking skills and clear written expression is an asset for many career goals. As a strong liberal arts program, the major can lead to research and/or teaching on all levels, as well as careers in related areas such as the ministry, counseling, social work, and other helping professions. Because the major integrates so many academic areas, it is also an excellent background for graduate programs, especially in the humanities, and for professional schools including law, business, and foreign service.

Common Career Titles Related to this Major:

(Some careers may require education beyond an undergraduate degree)

Business

  • Banking Executive
  • Financial Services Advisor
  • Human Resources Manager
  • Marketing Manager
  • Sales Manager
  • Technology Consultant

Communications

  • Author
  • Programming Director
  • Writer

Education

  • College President
  • Director of a College Counseling Center
  • High School Principal
  • Professor of Anthropology
  • Public School Teacher

Health/Mental Health/ Social Services

  • Nurse
  • Physician
  • Psychologist
  • Social Worker
  • Therapist 
Museums/Library Sciences
  • Museum Curator
  • Librarian

Theological Fields

  • Clergy

Enhancing Your Academic Experience:

  • Participating in undergraduate research
  • Applying for a study abroad experience
  • Utilizing resources of The Career Center
  • Joining a Registered Student Organization (RSO) related to this major, such as:
    • Chabad Jewish Student Association: provides th university community with an opportunity to foster awareness of Jewish cultural and spiritual heritage, values and traditions; to educate students in Jewish teachings and thoughts; to facilitate observance of rituals and customs.
    • Dharma (Hindu Students' Association): educates the college community about Hinduism through various cultural and philosophical events.
    • International Buddhist Association at UIUC: educates on Buddhist culture, philosophy, and practice. We meet weekly to study Dharma, to practice meditation, and to support one another emotionally and spiritually. We also celebrate cultural events such as the Lunar New Year and the Buddha’s Birthday for our campus community.
    • Intervarsity Christian Fellowship - Champaign Chapter: making Jesus known by growing loving, biblical communities throughout the campus with an interdenominational Christian context
    • Muslims Student Association:  consists of people of a variety of backgrounds; a means by which students maintain their faith in a college environment; a tool by which non-Muslims learn about Islam. Students strive to build bridges with other religious groups through service activities and interfaith dialogue. 

Related Skills:

  • Analytical Thinking: Through studying religious texts, majors develop the ability to unravel and evaluate complex arguments.
  • Communications: Religion majors learn to produce clear, accurate, well-organized writing and deliver effective oral presentations.
  • Problem Solving: Reading about religion raises many difficult questions that demand creative and perceptive answers.
  • Self-Analysis: Students engage in honest self-assessment of their beliefs and assumptions.

Further Information:

For more information on what you can do with a major in Religion, visit The Career Center’s webpage: What Can I Do With This Major.

There are several professional organizations dedicated to Religion.  Their websites might be able to provide a glimpse in the world of Religion.  These organizations include American Academy of Religion.

For more information on the classes needed for a degree in Religion, visit Undergraduate Programs.