Best Research Universities for Religious Studies Degrees

Best Research Universities for Religious Studies Degrees

The best religious studies research universities 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.

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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Related: How to Major in Religious Studies

Best Research Universities for Religious Studies Degree Programs
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If you think a liberal arts college may be a better fit for you, see our ranking of the best liberal arts colleges for a bachelor’s in religious studies.

Ranking: Best Research Universities for Religious Studies Bachelor’s Degree Programs

  1. #1

    Harvard University

    Cambridge , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    5%

    Graduation

    98%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1515/34

    Harvard University Religious Studies Major Concentrations:

    • Comparative Study of Religion
    Source
  2. #2

    Yale University

    New Haven , CT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1515/34

  3. #3

    University of Chicago

    Chicago , IL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    13K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1535/34

    University of Chicago Religious Studies Major:

    • BA in Religious Studies
    Source
  4. #4

    Columbia University

    New York , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $64K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1505/34

    Columbia University Religious Studies Major Zones:

    • Time (History, Modernity)
    • Transmission (Tradition, Memory, Institutions)
    • Space (Place, Geography, Virtual Space)
    • Body (Materiality, Mind, Bio-ethics)
    • Media (Transportation, Information, Communication)
    Source
  5. #5

    Duke University

    Durham , NC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    8%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1525/34

    Duke University Religious Studies Major:

    • BA in Religious Studies

    Related:

    • Interdepartmental Major: Ancient Religion and Society
    Source
  6. #6

    Princeton University

    Princeton , NJ
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    6%

    Graduation

    98%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1515/34

    Princeton University Religious Studies Major:

    • AB in Religion
    Source
  7. #7

    Stanford University

    Stanford , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    5%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1505/33

    Stanford University Religious Studies Major:

    • BA in Religious Studies
    Source
  8. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    17%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    43K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1430/33

    UC Berkeley Religious Studies Major:

    • East Asian Religion, Thought and Culture
    Source
  9. #10

    Georgetown University

    Washington , DC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    17%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    14K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1465/33

    Georgetown University Religious Studies Major Concentrations:

    • Religion, Politics, and the Common Good
    • Christian Theology
    • Biblical Studies
    • Ethics
    • Religious Studies
    Source
  10. #11

    University of Pennsylvania

    Philadelphia , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1505/34

    University of Pennsylvania Religious Studies Major:

    • BA in Religious Studies
    Source
  11. #13

    Cornell University

    Ithaca , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    11%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    26K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1480/33

    Cornell University Religious Studies Major:

    • BA in Religious Studies
    Source
  12. #14

    University of Michigan

    Ann Arbor , MI
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    26%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    45K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1435/32

    University of Michigan Religious Studies Major:

    • Religion: Religious history
    Source
  13. #15

    New York University

    New York , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    49K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1440/32

    NYU Religious Studies Major:

    • BA in Religious Studies
    Source
  14. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    16%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    40K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

    USC Religious Studies Majors:

    • Religion
    • Jewish Studies
    Source
  15. #18

    Brown University

    Providence , RI
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    8%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1505/34

  16. #19

    Northwestern University

    Evanston , IL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    19K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1495/34

    Northwestern University Religious Studies Major:

    • Religious Studies
    Source
  17. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    25%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1405/30

    What is University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill known for?

    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

    Northwestern University Religious Studies Major Concentrations:

    • Jewish Studies
    Source
  18. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    14%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    45K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

    What is University of California, Los Angeles known for?

    University of California, Los Angeles’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

    UCLA Religious Studies Majors:

    • BA in Asian Religions
    • BA in Study of Religion
    Source
  19. #24

    Dartmouth College

    Hanover , NH
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1500/33

Go to all Research Universities for Religious Studies programs

The Best Religious Studies Schools in Your State

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