What to Expect
Fascinated by the deep meaning of life itself, religious studies students
generally have been awed most of their lives by religion, spirituality and
Expect to take a variety of courses, including sociology, philosophy,
history and the arts.
"This field is possibly one of the most multidisciplinary fields in
academia, including such diverse elements as psychology, anthropology,
philosophy, the arts, sociology," says Val Lariviere. She took a master's
degree in religious studies.
Students must also be able to work and think for themselves. One of
the greatest points of a religious studies program is that there are so many
diverse opinions and thoughts.
This program includes a great deal of lectures about history and cultures.
It is important to understand a people's history and heritage when focusing
on their belief systems.
Religious studies involves a wide range of religions and even sub-religions.
You may start out learning about Christianity, and before you know it, you'll
be trying to sort out the philosophical differences between Catholics, Presbyterians,
Baptists and Jehovah's Witnesses.
Many students find it difficult to keep all these religions and cultures
straight. Talking to your professors can help.
Students must be able to manage their time and concentrate.
"If a person is not used to working independently, there may be some problems,"
says Lariviere. "Also, if one is not open to enlarging one's view of life,
it is quite difficult to get the full benefit from the breadth of knowledge
and experience with which a person will be confronted."
How to Prepare
Get involved in religious organizations and community groups. Leadership
roles are also a good way to prepare, as religious studies students must
have confidence and communication skills in order to voice their opinions.
In high school, take history, philosophy, sociology and psychology
if you can.
Communities offer many opportunities to explore different religions and
cultures. Art and history museums, ethnic shops and different denominational
churches, synagogues and temples are a good way to study other cultures. Students
need to have an open mind and realize that not everyone thinks the same or
believes in the same things.