About Religious StudiesThe study of religion is known as Religious Studies. It an academic department established to learn about religions and its beliefs. Religious studies include multiple disciplines and provide a detailed explanation of the history of a religion, religious practices, religious beliefs, religious traditions and culture. In general, religious studies analyses different religions and deals with the cross-cultural perspectives. Religious studies are offered through courses such as Comparative Religion, Science of Religion and History of Religion. Similar to religious studies, theology is another separate academic discipline which focuses on the study of Deity or God. The concepts of religious studies and theology are different, but both the academic disciplines concentrate on the same sector. India is a diverse and secular country where a majority of the population follows religions such as Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Jainism. A lot of Indian educational institutions offer bachelor and master degree programmes in religious studies and theology studies.
Distance Learning courses in Religious StudiesMany universities and learning institutions in India offer B.A and M.A religious studies in multiple disciplines through regular full-time programmes. But a very few universities and colleges offer B.A, M.A, Diploma and Certificate courses in religious studies through distance learning in India. Those who wish to gain knowledge about religions can join the degree programmes in religious studies through correspondence. A lot of distance education universities in Tamil Nadu offer degree programmes in religious studies.
Mentioned below is the list of distance learning courses in religious studies, its eligibility criteria and career prospects.
1. B.A VaishnavismThe Bachelor of Arts in Vaishnavism is a 3 years UG degree programme which provides education on the religious concepts of Vaishnavism. In B.A. Vaishnavism degree course, a complete abstraction of Vaishnavism is provided through seminars on major subjects such as the History of Vaishnavism, Divyaprabhandam, Rahasya Literature, Tamil Stotra Literature, Sangam Tamil Literature, Ithihasas and Puranas, Srivaishnava Commentary Literature and the concepts of Visishtadvaita. The degree programme delivers the work of the ancient Acharyas and Alwars.
The University of Madras is the only educational institution in India which offers B.A. Vaishnavism degree course under distance education. Only candidates who have passed 10+ 2 examinations are eligible to join B.A. Vaishnavism under distance education in the University of Madras. The University offers the degree course in both English and Tamil Medium. The candidates can select the medium of instructions as per their choice. The University of Madras will send the necessary learning materials and notifies the examination and seminar schedule in prior to the students who have enrolled for the distance B.A. Vaishnavism course.
2. B.A Islamic StudiesThe duration of B.A. Islamic Studies is 3 years. The bachelor's degree programme on Islamic Studies deals with the various aspects of Islam. Candidates who wish to strengthen their knowledge of Islam can join B.A. Islamic Studies. The curriculum of the bachelor's degree programme generally teaches the concepts of Islam, the science of Quran, literature in Arabic, Family laws of Islam, Economics in Islam and more diverse concepts about the religion. Candidates who have qualified their 10 +2 examinations or any equivalent qualification with at least Urdu or Arabic language as their subject of study can apply for B.A. Islamic Studies.
Many colleges in India offer B.A. Islamic Studies under regular education programme, but only very few Indian educational institution offers distance B.A. degree programme in Islamic Studies. Manonmaniam Sundaranar University is one prestigious distance education university which offers B.A. Islamic Studies. No entrance examination is required for the admissions into B.A. Islamic Studies in the University. A lot of career opportunities are available at Muslim institutions for those who hold a degree in Islamic Studies.
3. B.A Christian StudiesThe Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies is a UG degree programme which is designed to deliver the concepts of Christianity. The duration of the course is 3 years. In B.A. Christian Studies, education is given on the history of Christianity, Christian beliefs, Christian practices, Christian ethics and the Holy Bible. Candidates who are interested to build their knowledge on Christianity can pursue a bachelor's degree in Christian Studies. Candidates who have passed 10+2 examinations are eligible to join B.A in Christian Studies.
In India, the University of Madras is offering B.A. Christian Studies under distance education. The course is offered in both Tamil and English Medium of Instructions. The candidates can select the medium of instructions as per their choice of interest. The university admits the students into the course through recognized spot admission centers and study centers. Quality study materials will be provided to enrich effective learning.
4. M.A Religious StudiesThe Master of Arts in Religious Studies is a 2 years degree programme which provides education on the concepts of religion, philosophy of religion, comparative study of religion and culture. Through this degree programme, one can gain knowledge on the practices, ethics and beliefs of various Indian religions such as Sikhism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism and Judaism. The eligibility to study M.A. in Religious Studies is any bachelor's degree. This degree provides opportunities for job profiles such as religion teacher, lecturer, Bible translator and assistant professor.
M.A. Religious Studies under distance education mode is offered by the Distance Education Department of Punjabi University, Patiala. The admissions into the course are based on the eligibility criteria of Punjabi University. The university has study centers in Punjab and Gujarat. It provides study materials written by scholars and conducts personal contact programmes. The PCP programmes provide guidance to the students who are enrolled for M.A Religious Studies through distance learning.
5. M.A Philosophy and ReligionM.A. Philosophy and Religion is a PG degree programme which teaches the concepts of both philosophy and religion. The duration of the course is 2 years. The general course structure of M.A. Philosophy and Religion is designed to provide knowledge on Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Philosophy of religion, Logic and Philosophy of Human Rights, Feminist and Dalit Philosophy, Marxist and Rationalist Philosophy, Ethics and Metaphysics and Epistemology. Knowledge is given on the various Indian religions, ethics and the philosophy through M.A Philosophy and Religion degree programme. Candidates with any graduate degree from a recognized University are eligible to pursue distance M.A. in Philosophy and Religion.
In India, M.A. Philosophy and Religion programme is offered through distance education by the Directorate of Distance Education (DDE), Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU). The degree programme is recognized by the UGC. The University offers the course in both Tamil and English medium of instructions. PCP classes will be conducted for the enrolled candidates and the printed course materials will be provided by MKU for easy learning. The distance education degree offered by MKU on M.A. Philosophy and Religion is eligible for employment in central and state government.
6. M.A Philosophy, Religion and CultureThe PG degree programme in Philosophy, Religion and Culture provides the education on Indian religions, culture and philosophy under the duration of 2 years. The syllabus of M.A. Philosophy, Religion and Culture include the subjects on Indian philosophy, Western Philosophy, Modern Indian Philosophy, Comparative Religion, Temple Management, Social Ethics, Logic and Scientific Methods, Indian culture, Saivism and Vaishnavism. Any graduate degree from a recognized university is eligible to apply for distance M.A in Philosophy, Religion and Culture.
The Directorate of Distance Education, Annamalai University is the only Indian Distance Education University which offers M.A. degree in Philosophy, Religion and Culture. English is the medium of instructions to learn distance M.A. in Philosophy, Religion and Culture. The University provides placement training and helps the students with the job placement. For M.A. degree in Philosophy, Religion and Culture, job opportunities are available as Tourism officers, Temple Executive officers in the Ministry of Tourism in the State and the Central Government and also in the travel agencies and hotels as tour operators.
7. M.A VaishnavismM.A Vaishnavism is a PG degree programme proposed to deliver the religious concepts of Vaishnavism. A candidate who has any graduate degree from a recognized University or any oriental title (like Pulavar, Vidvan, Siromani) can apply for M.A. Vaishnavism under distance education. The duration of the course is 2 years. M.A. Vaishnavism degree programme contains subjects such as the Historical Development of Vaishnavism, Hymns of Periyalvar, Hymns of Tirumangai Alvar , Hymns of Kulasekara Alvar, Hymns of Nammalvar, Hymns of Tirumalisai Alvar , Hymns of Andal , Sanskrit Stotras, Early Texts in Vaishnavism, Rahasya Granthas of Lokacharya, Rahasya Granthas of Nayanar , Srivaishnava Commentary Tradition, Songs of Pillai Perumal and Basic Concepts of Visishtadvaita.
In India, M.A. Vaishnavism is offered through distance education mode only by the Institute of Distance Education, the University of Madras. The medium of instructions for the course is Tamil. The institute provides course materials in traditional print mode and organizes PCP classes to enrich the knowledge of the students who have joined distance M.A. in Vaishnavism.
8. M.A Christian StudiesThe Master of Arts in Christian Studies deals with the scientific study, analysis and research of the Christian scriptures and promotes inter-religious understanding. The degree programme also covers the theologies and ethical values presented in the holy bible. M.A. Christian Studies explains about the religious practices of Christianity and provides an opportunity for the students to understand the relation of Christianity with other Indian religions through a well-structured course plan for a period of 2 academic years.
The Department of Christian studies in the Institute of Distance Education, the University of Madras offers distance M.A. degree in Christian Studies with English as the medium of instructions. Any candidates with a bachelor degree are eligible to apply for distance M.A. in Christian Studies. The degree programme has career opportunities as teaching professionals and religious instructors.
9. M.A Islamic HistoryThe Master of Arts degree in Islamic History is proposed to provide education on the history of Islam. The course plan of M.A. Islamic History covers the topics on General and Arab Historiography, The Umayyads, Early Abbasids, The Early Caliphate, Pre-Islamic Arabia and Prophet Muhammed, Revivalist Movement in Islam, Islamic Economics and Islamic Reform Movement in India. The duration of the course is 2 years. The entire history and culture of Islam are delivered through M.A. Islamic History.
School of Distance Education, University of Kerala (IDEKU) offers M.A. Islamic History through distance education. Candidates who have any graduate degree are eligible to join distance M.A. Islamic History. But more preferences will be given for those who have completedB.A. Islamic History for the admissions into the M.A Islamic History degree programme offered by IDEKU.
10. M.A Islamic StudiesM.A Islamic Studies is a PG degree programme which delivers the religious practices, ethics and laws of Islam religion for the duration of 2 years. The course structure of M.A. Islamic Studies includes the subjects such as Sciences of Hadeeth (Prophetic Narrations), Principles of Islamic Morals and the Methodology of Propagating, Islamic Jurisprudence, Quranic Sciences, Comparative Study of Religions and Muslim sects, Islamic Civilization and Contemporary Muslim World and Legal Maxims and objectives of Islamic legislation (Shariah). The Arabic language is taught as a separate subject in M.A. Islamic Studies. Any candidates with a graduate degree or those who have a graduate degree in Arabic Islamic are eligible to join M.A Islamic Studies.
The Directorate of Distance and Continuing Education (DDCE), Manonmaniam Sundaranar University offers M.A. Islamic Studies through distance learning. The University admits candidates into the distance degree programmes in both the academic and calendar year. For M.A. Islamic Studies a lot of career opportunities are available to become a religious instructor, teaching professional, translator, administrator and business consultant in Islamic organizations.
11. M.A Sikh StudiesThe Master of Arts degree in Sikh Studies focuses on delivering the religious concepts of Sikhism. Through M.A Sikh Studies, the education is given to gain knowledge about the Sikh history, Sikh theology, Guru Granth Sahib, Sikh Ethics, Sikh philosophy, Sikh literature and Rehatnamas. The duration of M.A. Sikh Studies is 2 years. Candidates with any graduate degree from a recognized university or any equivalent degree are eligible to apply for M.A. Sikh Studies.
Distance Education Department of Punjabi University, Patiala offers M.A. Sikh Studies through distance learning. All the study materials will be provided and the PCP classes will be conducted by the University for M.A. Sikh Studies.
12. M.A Buddhist StudiesM.A Buddhist Studies is a 2 year PG degree programme which is designed to explain the religious practices, beliefs, and ethics of Buddhism. The general course structure of M.A Buddhist studies includes the subjects such as Buddhist ethics, history of Buddhism, Pali language, Tibetan language, Buddhist philosophy and literature, Sutta literature, Sarvastivada and Mahasanghika literature, Vinaya literature, Abhidhamma literature, Life and teachings of Buddha.
M.A Buddhist Studies through distance learning is offered by Magadh University. Candidates with any graduate degree can pursue M.A Buddhist Studies. Those who wish to learn about Buddhism and the preaching of Buddha can join this degree programme. M.A Buddhist Studies provide career opportunities in cultural centers, academic institutions, art galleries and museums.
13. M.A Jainology and Comparative Religion, PhilosophyThe Master of Arts degree in Jainology and Comparative Religion, Philosophy is a PG degree programme designed to learn about Jainism. The duration of the course is 2 years. The degree programme deals with the Jain History, Culture, Literature and Art, Jain Epistemology and Nyaya, Jain Theory of Dhyana-yoga and Karma, Jain Metaphysics and Ethics, Anekanta, Naya, Nikshepa and Syadavada Jain Agama and Jain philosophy.
M.A Jainology through distance education mode is offered by Jain Vishva Bharati Institute. Any graduate degree is eligible to join the degree programme. The Institute offers study materials for easy learning. The course is recognized by the UGC and the University follows the guidelines prescribed by the UGC for the degree programmes.
14. Diploma in Saiva SiddhanthaDiploma in Saiva Siddhantha is a one-year degree programme which delivers the theological concepts of Shaivam, which is a part of Hinduism. It preaches the concepts of Agamic and Vedic Shaivam. The syllabus of diploma in Saiva Siddhantha degree programme includes subjects such as the history of Saiva Siddhantha, Canonical literature- Thiruvarutpayan, Hymnal literature and the basic tenets of Saiva Siddhantha. A pass in +2 examinations or any other equivalent examination is eligible to join diploma in Saiva Siddhantha.
The tradition of Saiva Siddhantha is followed mostly in the southern parts of India especially in Tamil Nadu. The complete knowledge about the tradition and ethics of Saiva Siddhantha is delivered to the interest students through distance diploma degree programme in Saiva Siddhantha by Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU). Tamil is the medium of instruction for the diploma degree offered by MKU in Saiva Siddhantha. Through this diploma degree programme, one can learn the complete details about Shaivam and the literature associated with Saiva Siddhantha.
15. Diploma in Vedic KarmakandDiploma in Vedic Karmakand is a one-year degree programme designed to deliver the concepts of Karmakand explained in Vedas of Hinduism. As per Gurucharita tradition, Karmakand is a holy book filled with mantras. The diploma programme deals with the ritual services.
Diploma in Vedic Karmakand is offered by many religious institutes in India, but the course is offered under distance education only in Uttarkhand Open University. The University also offers a 6 months certificate course in Karmkand. Hindi is the medium of instructions for the course. Study materials are provided by the University for the Diploma Course. Candidates with a pass mark in 10th or 12th examinations are eligible to apply for the course.
A very exhaustive and detailed article on the courses related to religious studies. It is really surprising that we have such a plethora of courses available in our country for the people interested in such streams.
One thing which comes to the mind is how these courses are useful for getting a job or starting some religious counselling or consulting. Until a course is applied in real life for practical purposes, it will not attract the people to go for it. Of course there are religious places in our country where people having such knowledge will be welcome and may be deliver lectures on our mythology and spirituality.
Anyway a person going for such courses has to keep these aspects in mind so that he can take mileage out of these knowledge acquisitions in the commercial world.
Nice article explaining the courses of religious studies in detail.
But do we get jobs through these courses? I doubt. I would like to ask the author as to what type of jobs we get after doing these courses.
In today's world, even when the competition is so high, I have not seen anyone opting for these courses.
In my opinion, one can get a job of a lecturer or can go for civil service exams or they can start their NGO. Except for these few options, I don't find any other job suitable for them.
Mr. Sanjeev Gupta,
In India, very few people wish to pursue a degree in Religious Studies. Only people who have the interest to know about a religion and those who wish to do religious services opt for religious studies. But in general, the graduates in religious studies have a job scope in Colleges, Universities, NGOs, Charities, Media, UPSC, Churches, Temples, Cultural centres, Art galleries and Museums. A person who has a UG/ PG degree in religious studies can continue their career as a Religion teacher, Lecturer, Assistant professor, Researcher, Bible Translator, Preacher, a curator of exhibitions in a museum or art gallery, Temple Executive Officers, Tourism Officers, Religious Commentator, Community development worker, Peace Activist, Social worker and Religious News Analyst. Some advanced courses like M.Phil and PhD in Religious Studies are also offered by some Indian Universities and those with an advanced learning degree can be a Researcher and do research on various religious topics.
A very useful article on various courses on religious study. The students of these courses can also join Indian Army as JCO Religious Teachers. Long back, I wrote an article on the recruitment of JCO Religious Teachers in Indian Army. Interested readers can go through this article:- http://www.indiastudychannel.com/resources/171048-Recruitment-of-JCO-Religious-Teachers-in-Indian-Army.aspx
These courses will be very helpful to the candidates.
Not only this but also the students of these religious courses can work in seminaries, gurukuls and in many other religious institutions.