Is a BA in Religious Studies degree worth it before the priesthood?


Is a BA in religious studies degree worth it before the seminary? I wonder if it’s a good program, or if it’s just more of an extended RCIA program. I also wonder if something might be better taking. It seems they have philosophy but only as a minor. Here’s their link.


Whether it’s good or not is largely a matter of opinion but certainly it’s more than “an extended RCIA program” and would likely provide you with *some *cross credits against your seminary course requirements. However, such things tend to be more trouble than they’re worth - especially for the poor person who has to try and sort your academic classes which will be different from everyone else in your year group. My advice would be to leave the academic formation to the seminary instead of trying to do their job for them.


One of the best things you could do for yourself is to sit down with a counselor at the university, or if that is not possible on the phone, and discuss this with them. Choosing a major before entering a seminary is a decision which needs professional guidance. Any major which would be something you would like to pursue after graduation has to be considered as you have several years before you attend the seminary if in fact you do. All types of things can change in four years.


I would recommend chatting with the diocesan Vocations Director and see what he has to say. I wouldn’t call any degree a man gets before seminary as being “wasted”. If you’re going to go straight to seminary after undergrad, a degree in philosophy may reduce the number of years until ordination. But it all depends on the requirements of the diocese. Hence why it’s good to talk to the vocations Director. He can give you that type of information.


What has the vocation director for your diocese or religious order said about this as a potential major? Their opinion has more weight than anyone here.

And I hope you will learn much more about RCIA if you think a college major has any resemblance to the conversion of heart and soul that takes place for people entering the Church.


If you don’t have the required number of philosophy classes, you will go into the pre-theology program until you have satisfied that requirement and then transfer to the theology program.


Right. :thumbsup:

Even if a college degree and going through RCIA were comparable in any way, the content is going to be much different between RCIA and a Religious Studies degree. Religious Studies degrees tend to focus broadly on all religions, not just Catholicism (or even Christianity).


Thanks for the thoughts. The more I look into religious studies, it’s seen as an entry point for theology/ministry, so that’s good. The counselor recommended getting a minor in philosophy, which should carry over.


Have you spoken to a vocations director? Not all dioceses look at the same program in the same way.


Yeah. He said any are fine, but the credits of philosophy may be the most important. Either a Ba/minor would help. Also a max of $32,000 in loans to enter the seminary.

I thought philosophy was the common way to go. But he said that’s fine if I take education, as long as I get the philosophy credits. But also religious studies sounded interesting. He said to have a backup job plan just in case seminary doesn’t work out.


Sounds like he gave you good advice. :thumbsup:


The loans all depend on the diocese, so if the one you are interested in said that to you, that’s fine.

Also, credits may or may not be accepted by a diocese/seminary. Trust me on this, it all depends on the seminary, the bishop, and the seminarian. I have seen all kinds of weird and unfair things when it came to accepting credits in philosophy and theology. I have seen men with philosophy credits from public universities skip philosophy because of the bishop, while others skipped a year because they were persistent with the seminary, while others with credits from private schools, even Catholic schools, were completely ignored. I did not have any philosophy or theology credits before seminary, so I am not speaking from a place of bitterness. I am just speaking from seeing what all happened.

It is important also to note that seminary is not about just education, but formation. You might enter with a lot of credits, and even have them accepted, only to be told that you will need to spend extra time in seminary or in a parish as a seminarian.

Seminary is about more than credits or doing things on our schedule. It’s about putting trust in God, giving ourselves to formation, and being open to whatever happens.


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