For spiritual thinkers of all different creeds and nationalities, travel is a means by which to boldly march along the path to self-discovery and enlightenment. Each and every endeavour manifests as a quest for wisdom and growth. Earning a religious studies degree abroad will usher in an appreciation of the broad spanning academic side of the field, as well as quench the thirst for truth, understanding, and spiritual attainment by learning what it means to live.
Why Earn a Religion Degree Abroad
There is undeniably something deeper that unites all believers, and that is precisely what going abroad can help bring you closer to understanding. The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. If anything, it enhances it and creates more wonder. Your religious studies degree abroad will take you far beyond religion and the basics of theology. It will expose you to the field as a whole, both in and out of the classroom, leading you to realize that we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience.
Perhaps the most valuable thing about earning a religious studies degree abroad is the expansive perspective that international experience will offer your own religious preconceptions. Religion manifests itself in very different ways around the world and you will, not surprisingly, discover that you know less about religion than you thought. Do NOT let that deter you. Earning a religious studies degree abroad is a humbling opportunity where true learning in its purest form transpires.
Whether you are practicing for the ministry, studying with a shaman, or observing ancient rituals within tribal religions, the benefit of traveling and experiencing the world will shed light on your own spiritual path. Whatever future profession you have in mind, the practical experience you will gain from pursuing a degree abroad in religious studies will make you a better candidate for the job and prepare you for what is next to come.
Even in today’s rapidly globalizing world, religion carries an undeniable regional connotation. You will find that a range of perspectives and approaches exist, mostly because different religions hold varying levels of influence across the globe. There is an undeniable geographical clustering that has resulted from the forces of history. Thus, where in the world you choose to pursue your religious studies degree abroad will greatly affect the type and scope of degree programs.
Christianity has a foothold in most regions of the globe and the significant influence that Christianity has throughout the world creates many opportunities to pursue a degree within the Christian theological scope. To further narrow down your placement options, focus in on one of the numerous denominations within the realm of Christianity. Head to Israel and dig deep into the roots, studying in the place where it all began, or make your way to Italy to see how the largest church, with over a billion members worldwide, and one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, has played a prominent role in Western civilization.
Islam is the world’s next most popular religion and holds an immensity of religious influence throughout the Middle East. One of the safest and most reputable countries to consider for religious studies degrees is the United Arab Emirates. For most people, the United Arab Emirates means just one place; Dubai, the sci-fi-esque city of palm-shaped islands and luxurious beach resorts. But beyond the glitter awaits a diverse mosaic of six more emirates, each with its own character and allure. The pre-oil days of the UAE boast of a large Muslim influence, so prospective students interested in Islamic studies will do well to seek out degree programs in the lap of luxury.
Hinduism is most dominantly practiced in India, where spirituality is the common characteristic painted across the intricate canvas of the country. The multitude of sacred sites and rituals are testament to its long, colorful religious history. Indian’s are notorious instigators of the best dance parties on the planet, hosting some of the world's most dazzling devotional festivals; everything from parades, celebrating auspicious events on the religious calendar, to simple harvest fairs, warrant a country-wide celebration. Pursuing a religious studies degree in India will undoubtedly be an interactive experience!
While we only have room to mention a couple, don’t feel limited by the aforementioned suggestions. Emblazoned by Buddhism? Curious about Catholicism? Dying to know the Dao? There’s a religious studies degree program for you.
Religious Studies Degree Programs
There are two distinctive routes you can take when earning a religious studies degree abroad, and each one is quite different from the other. While there is undoubtedly a crossover in subject matter and you will be studying many of the same texts, the approach to those texts will likely be very different between these two institutions.
The first is academic. Religion is one of the oldest academic disciplines in the world and many highly respected universities were actually first established as places of religious study. As an academic discipline, religion utilizes rational approaches to understanding religious ideas in both ancient and modern contexts. You can earn a bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD in religious studies at many universities abroad. Course structures do not stray far from the norm, but textbooks are complemented nicely with 3D versions in your new backyard.
The other route you can take is studying at a religious institution, such as a seminary or divinity school, in order to earn a specialized degree in the religious profession. For example, a master of divinity or equivalent degree is the most common route toward a career in the priesthood, and is offered in many locations around the world. Different religions use different routes to ordainment, so this will obviously affect the shape, scope, and duration of your religious studies degree program.
Most religious studies degree programs are similarly structured to traditional U.S. universities and have comparable admissions requirements. If you plan on attending a school in a country where English is not the first language, be sure and check for specific language requirements. Also, take extra special care when considering cultural norms and customs as they may be amplified underneath the umbrella of a certain religion or when touring a particular religious landmark.
Benefits & Challenges
Traveling during young adulthood should be a priority for everyone, especially those who are interested in the field of religion. It is a great opportunity to expand your self-awareness and free your spirit. Pursuing a religious studies degree abroad is the perfect opportunity to have a spiritual adventure and explore the world out on your own. This can be an enlightening experience and presents the chance to apply your religious studies toward productive self-reflection.
Whether you are studying one religion or comparing multiple different religions, you are bound to be exposed to fresh perspectives while earning your religious studies degree abroad. It is a lot harder to pluck these nuggets of wisdom out of a textbook. These new takes on old subject matter will help you grow not only as a theologian, but as a human being.
Today, perhaps more than ever, it is becoming critically important to promote cross-cultural understanding of religious differences. Students who study religion abroad become ambassadors to other cultures around the world. Religious and cultural differences interact heavily with one another, and studying abroad is the perfect way to begin unwinding the intricate web of difference and join the fight to break down the barriers of distrust and fear.
Seek the meaning of life and gain the experience of being alive! This is where the rubber meets the road and the physical realm melds with the spiritual. Your life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with your innermost being so that we can embrace the rapture of being alive and bring life to others.