Doctor of Theology in Religious Education: Program Info

Learn about degree program prerequisites, course topics and dissertation information for those earning a Doctor of Theology in Religious Education. Find out about career choices, employment outlook and salary trends.

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Essential Information

Most Doctor of Theology (ThD) in Religious Education degree programs are designed for individuals who seek to develop their ministerial abilities and teaching skills in a specific religious faith and become scholars, teachers and/or researchers. Students are given primary instruction in core educational topics involved with religious teaching, along with coursework related specifically to their religion of choice. Coursework can include theological curriculum and instruction, spiritual leadership and family life education.

In addition to classroom study, religious education doctoral candidates are often required to pass a series of comprehensive exams and prepare and successfully defend a dissertation. The exams typically cover a broad overview of religious education topics and specific areas within the student's specialization. Dissertations are normally lengthy scholarly reviews of a topic in the student's religious specialty.

Education Prerequisites

Admission prerequisites can include letters of recommendation from former college instructors and an in-depth academic writing sample. Some programs require coursework or verifiable knowledge in a foreign language, such as Latin or Hebrew, which will be used in the program.

Program Coursework

Coursework in ThD degree programs can vary significantly depending on the specialization. However, some of the subjects commonly covered in these programs include:

  • Ministry to at-risk youth
  • Leadership in religious education
  • Principles of professional development
  • Theological foundations of family life
  • Biblical studies
  • History of religion
  • Theological psychology
  • Family ministries

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Graduates of doctoral degree programs in religious education are qualified to seek positions in education. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), religion educators working in colleges and universities earned an average yearly salary of $72,290 in 2012, while those working in junior colleges earned $64,170 a year.

In 2012, the BLS reported that there were approximately 22,880 employed religion and philosophy teachers in postsecondary education. Overall job opportunities for postsecondary teachers were predicted to increase by 17% between 2010 and 2020.

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