Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Religious Studies Degrees

The best religious studies liberal arts colleges are those with rich histories of influence, proven through the work produced by the program’s faculty and alumni. Beyond demonstrating scholarly impact in the field, the best religious studies degree programs maximize your opportunities to interact with outstanding religious studies faculty.

Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Religious Studies Degrees

Frequently Asked Questions About Religious Studies Bachelor’s Degrees

While many will go on to work directly in religious settings as clergy, religious studies majors can find employment in various professions. Religious studies majors build knowledge and skills that can apply in social services, education, public relations, media, business, politics, and countless other professional settings. Moreover, many undergraduate religious studies degrees are rooted in a firm liberal arts education tradition. This means you get to study a bit of everything, and develop a well-rounded knowledge base, with the critical and analytical skills to navigate new challenges, and learn in unfamiliar situations.

Whether serving as clergy within a religion, or functioning as a culture critic, religious studies majors influence how we understand and interact with religion in our daily lives. Today, top influencers in religious studies are bringing light to topics like New Testament analysis, Christian apologetics, Science and Christianity, and much more.

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Religious studies is an idea major for those who have a practical interest in combining their faith and profession. Religious studies degrees are frequently offered by religious institutions. For instance, a Bachelor of Ministry (BM) may be offered by a Christian school, Bible school, or seminary. These degrees provide focused religious instruction for students who wish to apply their Christian faith to a leadership role within a religious community or organization. Similarly, degrees for aspiring clergy in the Jewish or Muslim faiths are likely to be offered by Rabbinical schools or Madrasa respectively.

By contrast, a bachelor of Theology (BTh) is more academically focused and more likely to be offered at a secular institution (as well as through most religious institutions). The Bachelor of Theology is designed for students who wish to engage with deep study of the scriptures, history and culture surrounding either a specific religion, or a variety of major world religions, without necessarily training for service in the clergy. The best religious studies degree for you will depend on both your career goals and religious affiliation.

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Once you’ve declared your major in religious studies, you will likely be required to complete a set of core courses in a number of related subject areas. While your concentration will give you a chance to choose from a wide range of highly-specialized religious studies electives, there are several common courses that most religious studies majors will be required to take, including:

  • Old Testament
  • New Testament
  • Church History
  • Introduction to Philosophy
  • Introduction to Theology
  • World Religions
  • Christian Apologetics
  • Jewish Diaspora

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A major in religious studies prepares you for diverse professions in academia, public service, and places of worship. Your religious studies major can lead to a wide range of career opportunities, including these top jobs:

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Related: How to Major in Religious Studies

Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Religious Studies Degree Programs
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Frequently Asked Questions About Research Universities, Liberal Arts Colleges, Online Colleges

In pursuing a bachelor’s degree, you will need to choose between three kinds of schools: research universities, liberal arts colleges, and online colleges.

Research universities are colleges and universities whose faculty are active in research and publishing. These schools offer a wide array of doctoral programs, especially in the sciences. They tend to be big, with tens of thousands of students.

Do you prefer a larger university setting, such as largest public university in your state? Research universities are typically big, offering degrees in many different disciplines. Is a big high-powered research environment the thing for you. If not, you should think about a liberal arts college. In deciding on an undergraduate institution, ask yourself what sort of environment will best help you to be happy and excel.

  • Consider whether you are self motivated enough to be a face in the crowd for some classes and largely unknown on campus at a large university. Of course you can find clubs and friends at a large university, but often liberal arts colleges have a more personal quality to them. If you want the community feel, a research university may not fit you well.
  • Are you interested in STEM fields? Research universities have that name for a reason – real research is happening there. This can create an exciting atmosphere for students interested in STEM. Attending a research university can give you a better chance of getting into better programs for graduate degrees, although a lot of that depends on your performance.
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Often referred to as “teaching colleges” liberal arts colleges put a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree.

  • Do you want your professors to know you? Liberal arts colleges strive to cultivate campus cultures that encourage tight bonds between professors and students. Professors at these schools will typically conduct original research. Yet the best of these schools offer their faculty reduced teaching loads so that they can both be productive researchers and still have plenty of time for students (both in and outside the classroom).
  • Do you want to feel like you know everybody? One of the most enticing features of a liberal arts college is that in very little time, you can feel like you know who’s who, which can create strong friendships, but also more pleasurable walks across campus. While your sports teams may never be on ESPN, it’s more likely that you’ll know the athletes as your peers. Beyond student and faculty relationships, it’s not unusual for the school president and other administrators to learn who you are. When faced with problems with your student account or the need to switch classes, this can be comforting during a stressful moment.
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Online colleges are typically the same colleges and universities you could attend in-person, but for certain degree programs the college or unviersity has made the degree programs available to be completed online. For over 5 million students, online degree programs allow students to earn their degrees in the most flexible format available. Online degrees are as respected as the on-campus degress you could earn from the same schools. There’s usually no disctinction between the two degrees, and your degree and transcript will not say that the degree was earned online. Online degree programs are offered by a vast majority of colleges and universities, and the number of offering continues to grow. Whehter you are searching for an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate, there’s a good chance you can earn your degree online from a respectable online college.

  • Are you a self-driven student? Perhaps the hardest aspect of obtaining an online degree is whether you will be disciplined enough to manage your time and course demands. Many online students report that online college made them more disciplined in all areas of their lives, but the flexible, self-paced learning that makes online colleges attractive can often be the same qualities that make it difficult. If you tend to be a procrastinator, you need to be honest with yourself. You can change your habits and propensities, or you can throw money down the drain.
  • Do you need the flexibility of an online degree program? Most online students study online because of time demands balancing work and life, or becuase the online colleges afford them the chance to attend a better school without moving. If you are serious about earning your degree for career advancement, online colleges make it possible. The most flexible options among online degrees are those that are aynchronous, meaning you don’t have scheduled times to meet with your class online. However, many students seek synchronous online degree programs so that they have some structure – set meeting times, scheduled exams, etc.
  • The good news is that attending an online college doesn’t mean you will miss out on getting to know your professors and classmates. In fact, many online students who have experienced both online and on-campus courses report having easier access to their professors. Since most communication with your professor is expected to be in text – via email or your class learning management system – it makes asking your questions easier. The same students also report that they got to better know the thoughts of their classmates. While in-person course conversations can be dominated by a few extroverts, online courses that require online discussions make it so that you see all of your classmates’ thoughts and questions.

If you interested in an online bachelor’s degree, check out what the best online colleges offer, or search our online degrees for the exact program that interests you. In either case, you will find well respected colleges and universities that offer online degrees.

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If you think a research university may be a better fit for you, see our ranking of the best research universities for a bachelor’s in religious studies.

How do we determine the best religious studies liberal arts colleges?

Methodology

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call “Influence”.

The influence of a college or university is based on the schools’ top academic influencers related to the discipline in this ranking. We track the influence of faculty and alumni affialiate with these school counting not only the publicaitons and citations of the school’s affiliated people, but we also consider the overall web presense of the faculty and alumni. The greater the citations, authority of web links, web searches, and pageviews, the greater the individuals’ influence. Those combined make up the departments’ influence in the field of study. We believe tracking the academic influence of the people affiliated with a school is the best indicator of academic excellence.

If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching, and whether their graduates themselves are advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence. Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and misuesed performance metrics. Influence, as measured by our InfluenceRanking engine, provides a ranking that is more insulated from manipulation, and more reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Ranking: Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Religious Studies Bachelor’s Degree Programs

  1. #1

    Pomona College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1465/33

    What is Pomona College known for?

    Pomona College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Physics
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    Pomona College Religious Studies Major:

    • Religious Studies
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  2. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    13%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1435/32

    What is Claremont McKenna College known for?

    Claremont McKenna College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Law
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

    CMC Religious Studies Major Concentrations:

    • Jewish Civilization
    • Christian Origins
    • Hinduism
    • South Asian Religions and Culture
    • Philosophy of Religion
    • Religion and Gender Studies
    • American Religions, Politics, & Culture
    • U.S. Latino & Latin American Religions and Politics
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  3. #4

    Swarthmore College

    Swarthmore , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    97%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1460/33

    What is Swarthmore College known for?

    Swarthmore College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Education

    Swarthmore Religious Studies Major:

    • Religion
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  4. #5

    Amherst College

    Amherst , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    12%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

    What is Amherst College known for?

    Amherst College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Law
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    Amherst Religious Studies Major:

    • Religion
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  5. #6

    Wesleyan University

    Middletown , CT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    4K

    What is Wesleyan University known for?

    Wesleyan University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Religious Studies
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    Wesleyan College Religious Studies Major:

    • Religious Studies
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  6. #7

    Wellesley College

    Wellesley , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

    What is Wellesley College known for?

    Wellesley College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    Wellesley College Religious Studies Major:

    • Religion
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  7. #9

    Middlebury College

    Middlebury , VT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    22%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/33

    What is Middlebury College known for?

    Middlebury College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Physics
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

    Middlebury College Religious Studies Major:

    • Religion
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  8. #11

    Davidson College

    Davidson , NC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1397/31

    What is Davidson College known for?

    Davidson College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Physics

    Davidson College Religious Studies Major:

    • AB in Religious Studies
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  9. #13

    Barnard College

    New York , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    14%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1430/32

    What is Barnard College known for?

    Barnard College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Anthropology
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Biology
    • Sociology

    Barnard College Religious Studies Major:

    • Religion
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  10. #14

    Haverford College

    Haverford , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    18%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1460/33

    What is Haverford College known for?

    Haverford College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Physics
    • Religious Studies
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology

    Haverford College Religious Studies Major Concentrations:

    • Religious Traditions in Cultural Context
    • Religion, Literature, and Representation
    • Religion, Ethics, and Society
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  11. #16

    Carleton College

    Northfield , MN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1450/32

    What is Carleton College known for?

    Carleton College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Economics
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Physics
    • Mathematics
    • Religious Studies

    Carleton College Religious Studies Interdisciplinary Major Concentrations:

    • Africana Studies
    • American Studies
    • Art & Art History
    • Asian Studies
    • Cinema and Media Studies
    • Classics
    • Cross Cultural Studies
    • Environmental Studies
    • European Studies
    • History
    • Judaic Studies
    • Latin American Studies
    • Medieval and Renaissance Studies
    • Middle East Studies
    • Music
    • Sociology and Anthropology
    • Women’s and Gender Studies
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  12. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/21

    What is Houston Baptist University known for?

    Houston Baptist University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Law
    • History
    • Communications
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    HBU Religious Studies Majors:

    • BA in Christianity
    • BA in Biblical Studies
    • BA in Practical Theology
    • BA in Theological Studies
    • BA in BA in Biblical Languages
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  13. #19

    Oberlin College

    Oberlin , OH
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    35%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1380/31

    What is Oberlin College known for?

    Oberlin College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    Oberlin College Religious Studies Major:

    • Religion
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  14. Tuition + fees

    $21K

    Acceptance

    89%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1010/19

    What is Southwestern Assemblies of God University known for?

    Southwestern Assemblies of God University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Criminal Justice
    • Business
    • Medical
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Social Work
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    SAGU Religious Studies Major:

    • BA in Religion and Philosophy
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  15. #21

    College of the Holy Cross

    Worcester , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    38%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1345/30

    What is College of the Holy Cross known for?

    College of the Holy Cross’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Communications
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology

    CHC Religious Studies Major Concentrations:

    • World Religions
    • Theology
    • Sacred Texts
    • Religious Ethics
    Source
    REQUEST INFO
  16. #24

    Bucknell University

    Lewisburg , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    38%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1342/30

    What is Bucknell University known for?

    Bucknell University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology
    • Biology

    Bucknell University Religious Studies Major:

    • Religious Studies
    Source
    REQUEST INFO

Go to all Liberal Arts Colleges for religious studies programs

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