For spiritual thinkers of all different creeds and nationalities, travel has become a memorable means by which to progress along the path to self-discovery. Earning your degree abroad in theology is therefore an opportunity to embark on an invaluable journey of knowing and growth. As you earn your theology degree abroad, you will come to better understand the broad spanning academic side of the field as well as gain personal experience that can help shed light on theology as a whole.
Why Earn a Degree Abroad in Theology
It should not take too much convincing for you to decide to earn your theology degree abroad. Perhaps the most valuable things about earning a theology degree abroad is the expansive perspective that international experience will offer your own theological preconceptions. You may even discover that you know less about the subject than you thought! Religion, like many elements of social and cultural conditioning, manifests itself in very different ways around the world. Yet, there is undeniably something deeper that unites all religious beliefs, and that is precisely what going abroad can help bring you closer to knowing. Your theology degree abroad will take you far beyond religion and the basics of theology, and instead expose you to the field as a whole both in and out of the classroom.
Where in the world you choose to pursue your theology degree abroad will greatly affect the type and scope of available degree programs. You will find that a range of theological perspectives and approaches exist, mostly because different religions hold varying levels of influence across the globe.
First, the Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Islam, Judaism. With over 2 billion followers, Christianity holds a significant influence throughout most regions of the globe, most substantially in Europe, the Americas, and sub-Saharan Africa. Islam, with just under 2 billion followers, likewise holds an immensity of religious influence throughout the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in a considerably small part of Europe and Southeast Asia. Judaism has a much smaller religious base and is practiced mostly in Israel, Europe, and North America.
Next, the religions which take root in Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Hinduism, with over 1 billion followers, is most dominantly practiced in India and Nepal. Smaller religions, such as Jainism and Sikhism are also practiced in these regions, while larger sects of Buddhism and Taoism are commonly practiced throughout Asia too.
Indigenous religions are also a popular focus of theology degree programs, and are still practiced all over the world, mostly in pre-industrial communities. More so than the majority of other disciplines, theology degree programs will differ greatly in scope, depending on where you study, so treat the decision of where to go as a major part of program selection process!
Theology Degrees Abroad
There are two distinctive routes you can take when earning a theology degree abroad, and each one is quite different from the other.
The first is academic. Theology 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, theology utilizes rational approaches to understanding religious ideas in both ancient and modern contexts. You can earn a bachelor's, master’s, or PhD in theology at many universities abroad.
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 theology 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 theology degree program abroad.
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 much different between these two very different types of institutions. It is thus important to research your theology degree program in depth to make sure it feels like the right degree abroad for you.
See the World. Traveling during young adulthood should be a priority for everyone, especially those who are interested in the field of theology. It is a great opportunity to expand your self-awareness and religious perspective, and it won’t hurt to see some famous places along the way too.
Interact. Meeting peers from all over the world who are interested in the same field as you is one of the most valuable parts of earning your theology degree abroad. You will likely learn just as much from each other as you will from your coursework!
New Ideas. Whether you are studying one religion or comparing multiple different religions, you are bound to be exposed to some fresh new takes on old subject matter while earning your theology degree abroad. These new perspectives will help you grow as a theologist immensely.