7 Most Popular Colleges for Religion Majors

Let your desire to learn about different religions and cultures flourish at these schools.

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Most undergraduate religion programs offer students the opportunity to learn about and come to appreciate different religions and cultures. Religion majors are usually trained in data collection and direct observation. The major is unique because students are asked to use their critical thinking skills while tapping into their compassion.

The religion major is more popular at some schools than at others. As a result, these schools have dedicated time and resources to building their programs and offering the best for their students.

7. Arizona State University: $6,000 (resident), $9,000 (non-resident)

ASU is located in one of the sunniest urban areas in the United States and offers extensive outdoor opportunities in addition to a busy city lifestyle. They have four physical campuses and a large online program.

  • Location: Metro Phoenix, AZ
  • Enrollment: 60,000 undergraduates
  • Programs: ASU has certificates in Ethics, Islamic Studies, Religion and Conflict, and Jewish Studies
  • Why this program? At ASU, religion is an interdisciplinary major, so several departments step in and support religion students. Students have the opportunity to apply and become research assistants to faculty members. There is also a research journal published annually that features undergraduate work.

6. Ottawa University: $22,400

If you are looking specifically for a program that concentrates on the Christian religious tradition, Ottawa offers a strong program. They also work hard to prepare their students for life by giving them training in practical skills in addition to a traditional liberal arts education.

  • Location: Ottawa, KS
  • Enrollment: about 7,000 students
  • Programs: The major is in Christian Studies and Ministry
  • Why this program? Ottawa University's website notes that students in the Christian Studies and Ministry department gain "Biblical, theological, and philosophical knowledge that helps you develop respect and appreciation for diversity among persons of different religions, ideologies, and ethnicities."

5. Lehigh University: $41,920

Lehigh is one of the largest private research universities in the country. Its campus is in close proximity to Philadelphia and New York City. The recently renovated library holds over a million volumes and students also have access to several scholarly databases to facilitate their research.

  • Location: Bethlehem, PA
  • Enrollment: 4,718 undergraduates
  • Why this program? The Religion department at Lehigh is a "cross-cultural, comparative discipline" that covers major religions across the world. Students are strongly encouraged to double major. They also have access to the Philip and Muriel Berman Chair of Jewish Studies.

4. CollegeID: 605015]: $38,650

Princeton is consistently ranked as one of the best colleges in the country. They require that students take a wide variety of courses and complete independent work in their last two years. Their location is centered between Philadelphia and New York City, which are easily accessible by train.

  • Location: Princeton, NJ
  • Enrollment: about 5,000 undergraduates
  • Programs: Princeton's certificate programs in African-American Studies, Teacher Preparation, and Judaic Studies have overlapping faculty and complement the Religion program well.
  • Why this program? Big names in the field of religion like Cornel West, Eddie Glaude, and Albert Robateau have been on the faculty at Princeton for years. The Religion Department has a very close relationship with the Center for African-American Studies and many of the courses overlap. Furthermore, all students have to study at least four major world religious traditions.

3. Stanford University: $40,050

Stanford has long held a reputation as being one of the best schools on the West Coast. With a gorgeous campus and a wide range of resources, students are treated to a comprehensive education.

  • Location: Stanford, CA
  • Enrollment: almost 7,000 undergraduates
  • Programs: Stanford offers a joint major in philosophy
  • Why this program? Stanford religion students have access to the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies, the Taube Center for Jewish Studies, the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies, and the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society. The Religion Department sponsors several programs, lectures, and discussions that supplement the courses.

2. Duke University: $44,101

At Duke, undergraduate students have access to The Divinity School and are required to focus on three religions out of the seven they offer.

  • Location: Durham, NC
  • Enrollment: 6,680 undergraduates
  • Programs: Duke offers certificates in Jewish Studies, Islamic Studies, and the Study of Ethics
  • Why this program? The Religion Department at Duke offers a weekly film series, lectures, and exhibits. Juniors and seniors are required to participate in independent study and have the option of working closely with faculty members.

1. University of Notre Dame: $42,971

Notre Dame is a Catholic school with a long history of academic excellence. You don't have to be Catholic to attend. A significant portion of the student body follows a different faith or no faith at all.

  • Location: South Bend, IN
  • Enrollment: about 8,500 undergraduates
  • Programs: Joint major in philosophy and theology
  • Why this program? Students in the joint philosophy and theology major are pushed to ask questions about both faith and reason as they relate to the human experience. Students are required to study a classical language, like Latin or Greek, so they could read texts in their original language.

Quick Tips

  • Schools with strong graduate programs in religion can open doors that other schools may not be able to. For instance, undergraduates can partner with graduate students on their research projects and even sometimes get hired as research assistants for graduate students who have grants.
  • Several schools, including Arizona State University and Duke University, suggest that students double major or obtain a certificate in a related field so that their education is more well-rounded.

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