Best Colleges and Universities for Religious Studies Degrees

The best religious studies degree programs 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 Colleges and Universities for Religious Studies Degrees

Majoring in religious studies can mean different things to different students. Some religious studies degrees are secular, and approach the study of world religions like Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism from an academic perspective, delving into the history, literature, and beliefs of each. Other degrees, particularly those with a concentration in divinity, are firmly rooted within a religion, with the goal of developing advanced knowledge and finding employment in the clergy. Whether your goal is a life in service to your faith, or you are just fascinated by world religions, a major in religious studies can be a rewarding path. The best schools for religious studies are those which are fully accredited, which align with your spiritual and professional goals, and which give you the chance to work with the best and most influential professors and classmates.

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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Best Colleges and Universities 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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The Best Colleges and Universities for Religious Studies Degrees

Best Religious Studies Major Research Universities

  1. Harvard University
  2. Yale University
  3. University of Chicago
  4. Columbia University
  5. Duke University

Go to The Best Religious Studies Major Research Universities

Best Religious Studies Major Liberal Arts Colleges

  1. Pomona College
  2. Claremont McKenna College
  3. Swarthmore College
  4. Williams College
  5. Amherst College

Go to The Best Religious Studies Major Liberal Arts Colleges

Best Religious Studies Online Colleges

  1. Western Michigan University
  2. Florida International University
  3. Missouri State University
  4. University of Central Florida
  5. Chaminade University of Honolulu

Go to The Best Religious Studies Online Colleges

The Best Religious Studies Schools in Your State

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Learn More About Religious Studies

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