Thursday, January 03, 2013

Maybe Not the Best Measure

So, a friend of mine on Facebook shared a link to this article from It was certainly interesting. One thing I do at least once a year is teach CPE students about the challenges of the job search. So, I would certainly be interested in the various degrees. They even had a page on degrees in Religious Studies/Theology. (Flip through to slide 6.)

The measure according to the author of the article was Return on Investment. That is, how much would the degree cost, and how much would the person with the degree earn, both in one year and over a career.

But, as I flipped through the slides of the article, I found a problem. It was especially noticeable in looking at the jobs related to the Religious Studies/Theology degrees. The fact is that for most folks being a pastor (even an associate pastor), and certainly becoming a healthcare chaplain, would require more than a Bachelor’s degree. The salary and earnings numbers are reasonable, but the costs of the education are off. The same would be true on a page citing the un-marketability of a Sociology degree. There’s a reference to Social Work, but most Social Work positions call for a Masters trained person.

That’s not to say that there are no jobs in all these categories. My undergraduate degree was, in fact, in Religious Studies. We used to argue with the Philosophy majors about who had the more useless Bachelor’s degree. Finally, we Religious Studies folks had to admit defeat. We figured that if you had a maiden aunt who was a pillar of a large evangelical congregation in a small Southern town, you might be able to parlay a BA in Religious Studies into a position as Director of Christian Education. No one would ever hire a BA in Philosophy to actually do Philosophy.

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