Top Ten Free Online Courses in Religious Studies With Certificates in 2022

Religious studies degrees educate students about their place in the universe through beliefs, history, and scripture. Many religious studies graduates pursue professional and graduate programs and eventually careers in fields such as education, journalism, sociology, law, social work, and medicine.

If you want to pursue a career in religious studies but don’t have the time to go through the traditional learning route. You can start by enrolling in any of the free online religious studies courses that we’ll be listing.

To help you figure out if a career in religious studies is a good fit for you, we’ve put together basic things you need to know about religious studies, ranging from why you should pursue a career in religious studies to the free online courses in religious studies that are available.

Let’s delve in!

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Top Ten Free Online Courses in Religious Studies With Certificates

What Do You Refer To As Religious Studies?

Religious studies is an academic discipline devoted to studying religious beliefs, behaviors, and institutions. It describes, compares, and explains religion, emphasizing systematic, historical, and cross-cultural perspectives.

Religious studies employ a more scientific and objective approach independent of any particular religious viewpoint to comprehend the transcendent or supernatural world. As a result, it draws on various academic disciplines and methodologies, including anthropology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and religious history.

Furthermore, religious studies typically require empathy, effective communication skills, and emotional intelligence. And this is because some jobs related to religious studies will require you to draw directly on your expertise in societies, reason, and belief systems. While others will run parallel to your field of study but may require you to draw on your specialty.

Why Study Religious Studies?

As a religious studies graduate, you’ll have a lot of career options because the skills you’ll learn can be applied to so many different types of jobs. The following are some reasons why you should study religious studies:

1. It is Interdisciplinary

Religious Studies entail textual study, philosophical thinking, ethics, social understanding, analytical and reasoning skills, and core literacy skills. Also, religion shapes today’s global events, from war to peace movements, ethnic cleansing, and human rights. So, as a religious studies graduate, you can work in various industries.

2. It Provides Various Job Opportunities

Religious studies provide excellent foundational knowledge for various careers in both religion and non-religion. As a religious studies graduate, you will have many valuable skills to offer an employer. You will be prepared to enter professions such as education, law, or journalism and more pastoral work in the ministry such as counseling, mediation, negotiation, and social work.

3. It Enables Self-Awareness and Understanding of Others

Religious studies allow you to deepen your self-knowledge and provide the foundational knowledge and opportunity to understand other people’s worldviews and religious beliefs.

4. Religion is an Essential Component of Human Life

Religious belief and practice are an undeniable part of human existence. Therefore, religious studies help us understand the world around us. Furthermore, religious practices of one kind or another can be found in almost every society on the planet, and understanding them provides insight into an important aspect of human existence.

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Why Enroll in Online Courses in Religion?

If you’re thinking about enrolling in online certificate courses in religious studies but aren’t sure if it’s a good idea, this section will answer your question. The following are some of the reasons why you should take free online courses in religious studies:

1. It is Cheap and Flexible

Because of its flexibility, online courses on religion can be less expensive. In addition, you can be anywhere and at any time while receiving lectures virtually. As a result, transportation costs such as fuel, parking, car maintenance, and public transportation will not affect you.

2. Encourage Life-long Education.

Assuming you enrolled in online courses from Coursera or Udemy five months ago, whenever you need information related to the course, you can look into your profile and revisit the course without paying a dime. Thus, if you become interested in a particular religious topic, whether as a result of something you see, read, or hear about, or encounter a religious figure, you can always revisit the course.

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3. Increase Individual Attention

Oftentimes many students are hesitant to ask questions in class to appear stupid. The Internet removes that fear because you can directly contact the instructor through e-mail and can get your questions answered directly. As a result, your learning opportunities are enhanced.

4. Assist You in Meeting Interesting People

Many of us, especially in large classes, do not take the time to get to know our classmates. We could be too busy or simply shy. However, that may not be so in an online course, students in online courses on religious studies course can get to know one another through bulletin boards, chat rooms, and mailing lists. Even if you only converse online, it allows you to interact with other students and people in ways that aren’t possible otherwise.

Top Ten Free Online Courses in Religious Studies With Certificates in 2022

The following are our top picks among the free online courses in religious studies:

1. Philosophy, Science, and Religion: Philosophy and Religion

This is our top choice for free online courses in religious studies. Now, Philosophy, Science, and Religion represent three of the most fundamental ways of thinking about the world and its place. It is critical to determine what is unique about these approaches to learning about the world.

To gain some clarity, you’ll look at what some of today’s leading thinkers in philosophy, science, and religion do. This University of Edinburgh’s free online religion course will address key issues in the age-old debate between science and religion, including:

What kinds of disagreements exist between religion and science?

Does the current cognitive science of religion effectively explain God away?

Why do people refuse to believe that there is a God who created us to know him?

Provider: Coursera

Subject: Philosophy, Science and Religion

Duration: 24 Hours

Start Date: Self-Paced

Apply Here 

2. A Journey through Western Christianity: from Persecuted Faith to Global Religion (200 – 1650)

A Journey through Western Christianity is the second free online course in religious studies on our list. The course traces the extraordinary development of Western Christianity from its early persecution under the Roman Empire in the third century to its global expansion with the Jesuits of the early modern world. In addition, it explores religion’s dynamic and diverse character through a large cast of characters.

During the class, you’ll meet men and women who tell stories of faith and violence, suppression, and division. You will also hear the voices of great theologians and those labeled heretics by the Church, a powerful reminder that the development of Christianity is a story with many narratives of competing visions of reform and ideals, powerful critiques of corruption and venality, and exclusion of the defeated.

Provider: Coursera

Subject: A Journey through Western Christianity

Duration: 46 Hours

Start Date: Self-Paced

Apply Here 

3. Old Norse Mythology in the Sources

This free online religious studies course provides an overview of Viking religion in Old Norse and Scandinavian literature from the medieval period. You’ll learn about the various written sources and teach us about pre-Christian religion in Viking-era northern Europe.

Furthermore, the course will examine the Poetic Edda, the primary collection of Old Norse poetry about pre-Christian Scandinavian gods. Students will also work with the two major collections of prose stories about the Old Norse gods: Snorri Sturluson’s Edda and Saxo’s History of the Danes.

Provider: Coursera

Subject: Old Norse Mythology in the Sources

Duration: 6 Hours

Start Date: Self-Paced

Apply Here 

4. Soul Beliefs: Causes and Consequences

All through history, the vast majority of people have believed they have a “soul,” however defined. While science cannot answer whether the soul exists, we can study the causes and consequences of various beliefs about the soul and its chances of surviving the death of the body, which is why this course is included in our list of free online religion courses.

Why have soul and afterlife beliefs been so prevalent throughout history? Are there any adaptive benefits to believing in souls? Is it possible that environmental pressures have shaped brain structures that provide the foundation for the body/mind dualism prevalent in many religions?

How do these beliefs shape different cultures’ worldviews and our collective lives? What role do competing beliefs about the afterlife play in religion, science, politics, and war? This course delves into several aspects of this little-studied but critically important human thought and behavior. This free online course will provide answers to all of your questions.

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Provider: Coursera

Subject: Soul Beliefs

Duration: 19 Hours

Start Date: Self-Paced

Apply Here 

5. Constitutional Struggles in the Muslim World

Since 2009, there has been a renewed wave of popular unrest sweeping across much of the Muslim world. Secular but generally repressive and inefficient autocracies have come under fire or been swept aside entirely. At the same time, the various Islamic Republics have not fared much better, with internal unrest and economic and social decline.

Now, existing constitutional arrangements are being challenged, often violently, across Muslim lands. This online certificate course in religious studies is a survey of the constitutional ideas and institutions that have developed since the mid-nineteenth century in predominantly Muslim countries, focusing on the actors who have dominated this discourse and shaped its outcomes.

Learners will only look at the large body of classical writings on the Islamic state to understand the contemporary debate. Furthermore, you will focus on the legal and political developments of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Provider: Coursera

Subject:

Duration: 40 Hours

Start Date: Self-Paced

Apply Here 

6. Coexistence in Medieval Spain

This is another highly rated course among the free online courses in religious studies; the class explores Jewish, Christian, and Muslim intercultural relations in Iberia from the Visigothic era (6th century CE) until the creation of Queen Isabel I and King Ferdinand II, Catholic Spain (late 15th century). 

In addition, learners will evaluate the many identities of the peninsula known as Christian Hispania, Jewish Sefarad, and Islamic al-Andalus and trace the origins and trajectory of conflict between these communities (the Muslim conquest of Spain, Christian Reconquista, prohibitions blocking intermixing of peoples, and expulsions). 

The course will help you understand conflicts within communities, such as the tensions between Christian Arian Visigoths and native Catholic Iberians or the fundamentalist North African Almohad Dynasty that rejected the Spanish Umayyad Caliphate’s preference for religious tolerance and also an appreciation of collaboration and coexistence among these communities.

Provider: Coursera

Subject: Coexistence in Medieval Spain

Duration: 27 Hours

Start Date: Self-Paced

Apply Here 

7. Toledo: Deciphering Secrets of Medieval Spain

This free class in religious studies evaluates the medieval history of Toledo from the era of the Visigoth Kingdom (6th-8th centuries) through its Islamic period (8th to 11th centuries) and into its reintegration into Christian Spain (after 1085 c.e.) In particular, it takes note of the cultural and religious transformations that characterized the city with a special effort to understand how many peoples and religions came to settle and live amongst one another. 

In this course, learners will virtually tour the Islamic and Christian structures of the Museo de Santa Cruz, Iglesia de San Román, Sinagoga del Tránsito, Mezquita de Bab al-Mardum, Archivo Municipal de Toledo, and the Archivo Historico de la Nobleza.

Furthermore, it examines the Visigoth’s transition from Christian Arianism to Catholicism and the harsh treatment of the Jewish population. Additionally, you’ll learn about the Islamic governance and development of the medieval city of three faiths, with a special interest in its cultural achievements.

Another factor that makes this class stand out from the free online courses in religious studies is that you’ll learn about King Alfonso “The Wise” efforts to characterize himself as the “king of three religions” via his legal codices, the creation of the Cantigas de Santa María, and his intellectual endeavor known as the Toledo School of Translators. 

Provider: Coursera

Subject: Toledo

Duration: 37 Hours

Start Date: Self-Paced

Apply Here 

8. Wonders of Ancient Egypt

Colossal pyramids, imposing temples, golden treasures, enigmatic hieroglyphs, powerful pharaohs, strange gods, and mysterious mummies are features of Ancient Egyptian culture that have fascinated people. The Bible refers to its gods, rulers, and pyramids. Furthermore, neighbouring cultures in the ancient Near East and the Mediterranean wrote about its god-like kings and its seemingly endless supply of gold. a;so, the Greeks and Romans describe aspects of Egypt’s culture and history.

As the 19th century began, the Napoleonic campaign in Egypt highlighted the wonders of this ancient land, and public interest soared. Not long after, Champollion deciphered Egypt’s hieroglyphs and paved the way for other scholars to reveal that Egyptian texts dealt with medicine, dentistry, veterinary practices, mathematics, literature, accounting, and many other topics. 

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Then, early in the 20th century, Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun and its fabulous contents. Exhibitions of this treasure a few decades later resulted in the world’s first blockbuster, and its revival in the 21st century has kept interest alive.

This free religious studies course focused on five key areas in the study of Ancient Egypt:

  1. Principles of Egyptian Art
  2. The Basics of the Language of Ancient Egypt: Hieroglyphs
  3. Egyptian Magic
  4. Akhenaten, Tutankhamun, and the Religion of the Aten
  5. The Burial of Tutankhamun and the Search for his Tomb 

Provider: Coursera

Subject: Wonders of Ancient Egypt

Duration: 10 Hours

Start Date: Self-Paced

Apply Here 

9. A Methodological Introduction of The Talmud

The Talmud is one of the richest and most complicated works of literature the world has ever known. Since being composed around 1500 years ago, it has inspired religious reverence and significant intellectual engagement. 

In this free online certificate course in religious studies, you will the unique characteristics of talmud and the challenges in studying it. In this course students can expect to develop an appreciation for how the Talmud works and why it continues to inspire religious and intellectual devotion. Consequently, learners will be challenged to employ critical reading skills and analyze legal and historical concepts.

Provider: Coursera

Subject: The Talmud

Duration: 15 Hours

Start Date: Self-Paced

Apply Here 

10. Christianity & Ecology

This is the last on our list of free online courses in religious studies. Since there is a need for broader literacy and deeper knowledge of the world’s religions and their ecological contributions, this course is designed to connect the rich ecological dimensions of the Christian religious tradition. It explores unique contributions from Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christianity, exploring views on and relationships with the natural world. 

In addition, the relationship between Christianity and environmental justice, evangelical approaches to “creation care”, and Christian teachings on biodiversity, climate change, and the relationship between humans, Earth, and the cosmos.

Provider: Coursera

Subject: Christianity & Ecology

Duration: 18 Hours

Start Date: Self-Paced

Apply Here 

Conclusion

A career in religious studies will provide you with many job opportunities and boosts your knowledge for a wide range of careers in both religion and non-religion. Also, as a religious studies graduate, you will have tons of valuable skills to offer an employer. Furthermore, you will be prepared to enter professions such as education, law, or journalism and more pastoral work in the ministry such as counseling, mediation, negotiation, and social work.

Therefore, if you’re curious about understanding your place and helping people find their place in the universe through the lens of beliefs, history, and scripture, a career in religious studies will help you achieve that. To set the pace for a career in religious studies, you can start by enrolling in any of the free online courses in religious studies that we’ve listed.

Frequently Asked Questions About Free Online Courses in Religious Studies

Where can I study religion online?

You can study religion from the following website:
Coursera
Udemy
Skillshare
Alison
FutureLearn

Can you get an online degree in religion?

Yes! There are a lot of institutions that offer online courses in religion.

How long does it take to earn a degree in religious studies?

Although degree requirements vary from school to school, students can earn a bachelor’s degree in some institutions, which is four years.

What can you do with a degree in religious studies?

The following are career options available in religious studies:
Missionary
Museum Curator
Activist
Researcher
Teacher
University Professor 
Charity Coordinator
Child & Youth Worker
Community Developer
Religious Rights Advocate

How can I study theology for free?

You can study theology for free by enrolling in free remote courses in theology from the following institutions:
Dallas Theological Seminary 
Bethany Global University
The Gospel Coalition
Our Daily Bread University
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Reference

en.m.wikipedia.org – What is religious studies?

masterstudies.com – Why Study Religious Studies?

coursera.org – Free Online Courses in Religious Studies 

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