If you’ve ever entertained the idea of being a religious leader, wish to more fully explore your spiritual side, or harbor a fine appreciation for literature and history, diving into a Bible studies major (sometimes within the purview of a theology major) may prove a viable career path. Students who strive for a Bible studies degree do so for various reasons: to prepare for a life as a man or woman of the cloth or as a missionary, to gain a more comprehensive understanding of how the world’s religions and spiritual movements have shaped world history, or simply to deepen and expand upon personal belief systems.

What do Bible studies majors work on in school?

As a theology major in general, you can expect a thorough overview of the historical, literary, theological, cultural, and philosophical underpinnings of the Christian and Jewish faiths, as well as about other world religions and belief systems. Bible studies in particular is self-explanatory: You’ll likely read, interpret, and critique the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Talmud and try to understand them in both modern terms and in the way they were first received way back when; you’ll likely sneak a peek into different versions of the Bible over the years toward that end.

To become a member of the clergy, you’ll often need schooling beyond your bachelor’s degree—the seminary followed by ordination for priesthood, for example, or a rabbinical school to become a rabbi—but a Bible studies major lays a solid foundation for those future studies

So where can you expect a Bible studies major to lead you?

Priesthood isn’t the only pathway.

Of course, becoming a member of the clergy—e.g., a priest, nun, rabbi, or military chaplain—can be a natural progression for a Bible studies major. But students who don’t wish to take that path (especially women, who may feel constricted by limited current career options in their particular faith) can rest assured there are other ways to apply this newfound theological background. Other possible career choices to which you can apply your Bible studies degree:

  • Missionary
  • Religious educator for churches, nonprofits, or private schools
  • Researcher or religious writer
  • Museum curator or antiquities archivist
  • Religious counselor
  • Bereavement coordinator or funeral director
  • Anthropologist
  • Fundraiser for religious institutions or nonprofits

You don’t necessarily have to take a vow of poverty to head down the Bible studies road.

It’s true that people who choose a life in the clergy in good faith don’t go into it to make big bucks, but you can still make a decent living. The mean annual wage for 2016 for all clergy was around $50,000, for example, with certain states paying closer to $60,000. Religious teachers on the postsecondary level especially tend to do well on the pay scale, with the median annual wage in 2016 approaching $70,000.

You’ll get the chance to explore new worlds—metaphorically and perhaps literally.

Delving into old texts and histories is a fascinating field for anyone who loves history, literature, and language (ancient Hebrew, Greek, or Latin may come into play). But you may actually find yourself immersed in different cultures in real time if you decide to study abroad, become a missionary, or take on a religious instructional role in other parts of the country—or in other countries entirely.

You’ll gain new insights into how the Scriptures can be applied to contemporary life.

If you derive comfort from your faith, your undergraduate tenure as a Bible studies major will offer you even more ways in which to find guidance from the texts of old and tie it to the challenges of modern-day life. Without a priest- or pastor-delivered homily, it can be difficult for a layman to figure out why and how the Scriptures have relevance today; your Bible studies will help you make better sense of it all. Plus, if you one day envision having children and sharing your faith with them, having a background in Bible studies can help you pass along tried-and-true wisdom from the Good Book by applying it to struggles that contemporary kids relate to. Who knows—maybe you’ll even come up with the next Biblical app for their smartphones!