Orientation Information for New Students

We are thrilled to welcome you to the Religious Studies Department at the College of Charleston. We have created this page as the first stop on your journey to learning more about the fun, rewarding, and flexible lives of RELS majors, and we hope you find it helpful.

Find out how to get started and stay involved!

The academic study of religion at the College of Charleston is an integral part of the liberal arts. The department's curriculum provides students with an understanding of diverse religious traditions, exposure to a variety of approaches employed within the academic study of religion as well as an opportunity to explore the different intellectual, social-theoretical, and ethical issues that arise when one considers the varying roles of religion in human life. Our courses do not aim to promote or undermine any particular religion or worldview; the academic study of religion seeks to examine religion from outside the framework of any particular worldview or belief system.

 

What you might not yet know is that Religious Studies represents a pragmatic course of study as well as a fulfilling one. After all, there are some widespread misconceptions about how Religious Studies majors fare on the job market. When you tell friends that you want to study Religious Studies, some of them might have asked, “What are you going to do with that – preach?”

True, some RELS majors do choose to teach the subject they love. You will find RELS majors at all levels of instruction, from grade school to graduate school. But to suggest that RELS majors face limited career options is simply false. In fact, as a discipline that provides rigorous training in writing, research, and oral communication, it opens doors to all sorts of rewarding careers. Employers respect the undergraduate Religious Studies degree because it cultivates a creative and flexible mind.

 

What Can you Do with a Religious Studies Degree?

Almost anything! Religious studies majors do the same things—in approximately the same percentages—that other humanity and social science majors do.

Like other liberal arts majors at the College of Charleston, religious studies provide skills in critical thinking and reading, observation, and written and oral communication essential to any successful career. It also tends to open students’ minds to new experiences and ways of approaching the world and to expose students to the diversity and complexities of the world around them. Some majors go on for professional training in law, business, medicine, or journalism. Others pursue advanced degrees in the study of religion or neighboring disciplines such as anthropology, area studies, classics, history, literature, or philosophy. A small number enter seminaries and pursue religious vocations. Most do not.

Most religious studies graduates apply the skills they acquire as liberal arts majors to find satisfying careers in the public, nonprofit, government, or private sector. The superficial equation of the academic study of religion with pre-professional training is no more applicable to religious studies majors than it is to majors in any other discipline in the humanities and social sciences. In this, it is no different from a degree in art history, communications, English, history, philosophy, political science, psychology, or sociology.

Religious studies graduates may pursue careers in teaching, business, advertising, print or electronic journalism, radio, television or film, information technology or library sciences, Web design, publishing, museum, and archival work, travel, politics, marketing, and merchandising. Others spend time working for social service programs such as the Peace Corps or Teach for America or for NGOs. Still, others work, teach, or study abroad.


    •    Graduate school in religious studies, history, sociology, anthropology, education, and more
    •    Graduate or professional school in law, political science, medicine, business, and more
    •    Teaching at all levels, from elementary school to college
    •    Researching and grant-writing for government agencies, nonprofits, corporations