Looking for statistics on theology majors and religious studies majors? These facts and figures come from the most reputable and reliable sources you can find online, such as the National Center for Education Statistics, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Federal Reserve Bank, and the Brookings Institute.
Enrollment statistics for theology majors
Although enrollment for theology and religious studies majors is low in the United States, it has grown since 1971. Figures from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that only 3,720 theology degrees were conferred in 1971. That number peaked at 7,845 in 2012 and dipped slightly to 6,855 in 2020.
You can see the high point in the line graph below.
Here you can see the number of theology degrees conferred for select individual years, as recorded by the National Center for Education Statistics.
|Year||Theology bachelor’s degrees|
What’s interesting is that there are more theology degrees conferred at the master’s level than the bachelor’s level in the United States as of 2020. Whereas 38% of all theology degrees conferred are baccalaureate, 54% belong to master’s graduates.
Most academic programs produce a majority of bachelor’s graduates by a large margin, making theology programs substantially different in this regard.
Gender distribution for theology graduates
Across all degree levels (bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral), 66.9% of theology degrees are conferred upon men and 33.1% are conferred upon women, as of 2020.
The gender distribution for theology graduates shows that men represent about two thirds of bachelor’s and master’s degree recipients, with women representing only about one third. At the doctoral level the male representation increases to nearly three quarters, as you can see in the pie charts below.
Here is the gender breakdown for theology degrees, divided by each level of academic achievement:
- Bachelor’s degrees: 68.6% conferred to men, 31.4% conferred to women.
- Master’s degrees: 64.8% conferred to men, 35.2% conferred to women.
- Doctoral degrees: 72.7% conferred to men, 27.3% conferred to women.
You can see the exact number of degrees conferred in 2019 within the United States below, both by gender distribution and by level of academic attainment.
|Theology degrees||All types||Bachelor’s||Master’s||Doctoral|
Employment statistics for theology majors
A large number of graduates in theology and religious studies work as clergy or spiritual advisors, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics—33% of them, in fact. This is the single most common occupation for this pool of graduates.
Theology graduates do find other roles, though. You can see them listed below.
|Job for Theology Major||% of grads in job||Job growth, 2020 – 2030|
|High school teacher||2%||+8%|
|Truck driver & related jobs||2%||+6%|
Theology majors work predominantly in community and social services roles. It’s probably no coincidence that 33% of them work in that capacity, considering that 33% of them also work in the clergy.
Here is the breakdown of theology majors general areas of work:
- Community and social services: 33%
- Management: 12%
- Education and libraries: 10%
- Administration: 7%
- Sales: 7%
- Other areas: 33%
Those are general employment statistics. Early career statistics can be a bit different.
Although spiritual ventures don’t pay particularly high wages, theology majors see some of the lowest unemployment rates immediately after college.
Theology majors only experience a 1.5% unemployment rate soon after graduating, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. That is exceptionally low. Most programs have an unemployment rate between 3% and 6%, with some outliers a little beyond either end of that range.
The Federal Reserve Bank also recorded theology majors’ underemployment rate at 47%, which is on the medium-high side of the spectrum.
Theology alumni still experience lower underemployment rates than graduates from most other humanities programs. The most notable humanities program with a lower underemployment rate is journalism, and that is a career-specific degree.
Salary statistics for theology majors
There are several different figures for theology majors’ median salary, each from different sources.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median salary of $40,000 USD.
- The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports a median salary of $50,000 (mid-career).
The Brookings Institute’s Hamilton Project calculated the median earnings for theology majors as well, but differently. Instead of providing a single median representing graduates of all ages, this team calculated the median year by year after graduating.
This lets you see a more accurate representation of how much money theology majors earn over time. This is visualized in the line graph below.
You can also see the specific median salary for theology and religious studies majors listed annually in the chart below, reaching up to 25 years after graduating.
These are the core facts and statistics and theology majors in the United States. The data shows that alumni have much smaller numbers than other programs in the humanities, yet they tend to display clear career trajectories pointing toward community involvement.
They earn relatively low wages at first, but those wages do climb steadily for the first 13 years of work. This indicates that theology majors do in fact form careers that can sustain them in the field for which they trained.
Interested in statistics for other academic programs? Check out these pages: