Top 20 Accredited Colleges of Religion

studying religion in college

As human beings, all we ever seek in this world is the truth. For thousands of years, people have turned to religion and expression of faith in an attempt to find answers, embarking on a journey towards self-discovery, and relying on a higher being for guidance in this life. This is where religion comes in, with the very point of its existence uncovered through Religious Studies.

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Related article: Best Online Schools for Bachelor’s Degree In Religious Studies Program

Religion, Religious Studies, and the Human Condition

The term Theology comes from the Latin word “theologia” which means the study of God or the gods. As a field of academic study, it is aimed at understanding the belief systems and traditions, with emphasis on the areas of convergence and divergence among the world’s major religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism.

Furthermore, this area of discipline hopes to uncover the implications surrounding these belief systems, exploring their place in history and society, and connect these pertinent points with different areas of everyday life.

studying - religious studies

Even with this important subject at the very core of our humanity, there may not be enough experts who wish to dabble in this field. According to a 2018 article in Yale Daily News, the school’s Religious Studies Department is seeing a dwindle in enrollment rates, from 15 degrees awarded in 2006-07 to a mere 4 degrees in the academic year 2016-2017. This aligns well with the latest data gathered by the Digest of Education Statistics published by the US National Center for Educational Statistics, with only 9,603 enrollments in Philosophy and Religious Studies baccalaureate programs in 2017-18 versus 10,155 enrollments in the academic year 2015-16.

According to an article by Forbes, this is mainly due to the changing job market, with preferences given to STEM (science and technology) graduates. Additionally, because of high demands in the health and human services, enrollees are shifting their focus towards medical-oriented and occupationally linked majors.

Even with these factors in mind, it does not dismiss the importance of studying Religion. With the emergence of a global pandemic, religion is doing its part in resonating with the people and giving them a sense of hope during these trying times. With the suspension of religious gatherings and other festivals, religious leaders and believers all over the world are getting creative in terms of their faith expressions, resorting to online platforms as a safer way to convene. Millions of people are also looking towards religious authorities than health officials with regards to behavior modification in a crisis.

Leading Accredited Schools Offering Religious Studies

Our list of the accredited institutions of higher education offer the best online religious studies degree programs on the undergraduate (Associate and Bachelor), and graduate (Master and Doctorate) with classes held both online and on-campus, or on a hybrid learning arrangement.

This list also includes Religious Studies certificate programs:

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University of California – Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, CA

Degree Programs Offered (On-campus)

  • Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Middle East Studies
  • Master of Arts and Doctorate programs under specific areas of Religious Study

Accrediting Agency

  • WASC or (Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission

Located at the heart of the Santa Barbara suburbs in California, UC – Santa Barbara offers a comprehensive philosophy and religious studies program (focusing on the secular aspect of religion) that aims to students understand and appreciate world religions. They offer the complete tier of baccalaureate, masters’ and doctorate programs, with renowned faculty members who are award-winning scholars and presidents of various religious academies over the country.

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University of Virginia – Main Campus

Charlottesville, VA

Degree Programs Offered (On-campus and Online)

  • Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies
  • Master of Arts in Religious Studies
  • Ph.D. in Religious Studies

Accrediting Agency

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

University of Virginia’s Department of Religious Studies is known as the largest stand-alone religion department in the US, ranking 33rd out of more than 1700 schools in the country. The university provides professional and relevant training to scholars under the Religious Studies track, with graduates securing tenure-track employment in various fields and academic institutions.

Aside from their BA program, UVA also offers a master’s and doctorate track that allows students to focus on a critical area of study that falls under their interests.

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Yeshiva University

New York, NY

Degree Program Offered (On-campus)

  • Bachelor of Arts in Jewish Studies

Accrediting Agencies

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • New York State Board of Regents

The Robert M. Beren Department of Jewish Studies of the Yeshiva University system stands at the very core of the institution’s vision and mission, integrating its values and tradition with relevant and specific disciplines in the academe. It prides itself on its Jewish Studies academic track, which involves concentration in one of seven disciplines and periods that are important to the teachings of Judaism, as well as additional units in the Humanities.

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Arizona State University

ASU - Master's degree in Business Management

Tempe, AZ

Degree Programs Offered (Online/On-campus)

  • Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies
  • Master of Arts in Religious Studies
  • Doctorate in Religious Studies

Accrediting Agency

  • Higher Learning Commission

Arizona State University is a leading institution in distance learning. If you’re looking to pursue your religious studies degree with a concentration in world religion and related disciplines, you may want to enroll in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences under their online BA in Religious Studies program. As a nationally ranked institution, you will be able to enroll in one of their accredited degree programs in the comfort of your own home, allowing flexibility with your time and a highly customizable study load according to your pace.

Additionally, they offer track related programs such as MA and Ph.D. in Religious Studies, which are all taught in-person.

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Institute of Buddhist Studies

Berkeley, CA

Degree Programs Offered (On-campus)

  • Master of Divinity
  • Buddhist Studies
  • Master of Arts (Buddhist Studies concentration)

Accrediting Agency

  • WASC or Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission

The Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkley, California, offers three types of degree programs that focus on either academic Buddhist studies, Buddhist ministry, and Buddhist chaplaincy. Depending on your career goals, you can even enroll in their Study Abroad program, with opportunities that allow students to study in Japan and Taiwan. IBS offers a hybrid program where students can complete part of the course requirements online. For the most part, learners are expected to spend some time on the Berkeley campus.

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Calvary University

Kansas City, MO

Degree Programs Offered (Online/On-campus)

  • Graduate Seminary Programs
  • Master of Arts in Bible and Theology
  • Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling
  • Master of Divinity
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Bible & Theology
  • Associate of Arts/Bachelor of Arts in Bible & Theology
  • Associate of Arts/Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Counseling

Accrediting Agencies

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Association of Biblical Higher Education

Are you looking for a cheaper alternative to earning your religious studies degree? Calvary University allows students to earn an online theology degree under specific areas of study, including an online seminary program where you can choose between a master’s or doctorate. This added flexibility allows students to pursue their degrees according to their schedules. Since 1932, the school has been committed to producing graduates with a strong biblical foundation. Whether you’re planning to study on-campus in Kansas or enroll in their online programs, you’re guaranteed to get the same kind of quality education that they’re striving to deliver.

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American Islamic College

Chicago, IL

Degree Programs Offered (On-campus)

  • Bachelor of Arts in Islamic Studies
  • Master of Arts in Islamic Studies
  • Master of Divinity in Islamic Studies

Accrediting Agency

  • Higher Learning Commission

A private, nonprofit Islamic institution formed by a coalition of American Muslim leaders who are at the forefront of education, the  American Islamic College is committed to shaping individuals who wish to pursue a career in Islamic Studies. The college offers rigorous training in both baccalaureate and master levels, with both general education and Islamic Studies course requirements. For qualified students, they offer entrance year scholarships regardless of one’s religious background and faith traditions.

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Academy for Jewish Religion California

Los Angeles, CA

Degree Programs Offered (Online/On-campus)

  • Master of Arts in Rabbinic Studies
  • Master of Arts Jewish Sacred Music
  • Master of Arts in Jewish Studie
  • Certificate in Jewish Chaplaincy

Accrediting Agencies

  • WASC or Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission
  • Association of Clinical Pastoral Education

The Academy for Jewish Religion California is a trans-denominational institution that offers one-of-a-kind academic programs that are designed to shape future religious leaders and help transform students into individuals who are spiritually and morally whole. The school’s vision is rooted in the teachings of Judaism, preparing students to become trailblazers of the faith and agents of change. Aside from on-campus course offerings, AJRCA also accommodates students who wish to enroll under a flexible curriculum with online courses, which you can coordinate with their admissions department.

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Holy Apostles College and Seminary

Cromwell, CT

Degree Programs Offered (Online/On-campus)

  • Bachelor of Arts in Theology
  • Master of Arts in Theology, Philosophy or Pastoral Studies

Accrediting Agencies

  • Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Connecticut Office of Higher Education

Online religious colleges such as Holy Apostles College and Seminary (which also offers an on-campus alternative) offers a “faithfully Catholic, 100% online and on-campus liberal arts degree for undergraduate students”, including graduate programs that can be taken via distance learning modalities. They also offer a fast-track program that allows students to complete their degrees in less than three years. It is also known as the most affordable Cardinal Newman Society Recommended College, so if you’re also working towards a vocation, this will put you at an advantage.

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American Public University

Charles Town, WV

Degree Programs Offered (Online/On-campus)

  • Bachelor of Arts in Religion

Accrediting Agency

  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Council for Higher Education Accreditation

The American Public University aims to deliver affordable and quality education to adults who wish to continue their studies outside of work and other responsibilities. APU’s School of Arts and Humanities also offers a 120-credit, 100% online Bachelor of Arts in Religion program, allowing students to explore different facets of religion and philosophical movements, including different standpoints, their pertinent points in religion, and other related issues.

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Southwestern Adventist University

Keene, TX

Degree Programs Offered (Online/On-campus)

  • Bachelor of Arts in Religion
  • Bachelor of Arts in Theology
  • Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies

Accrediting Agencies

  • Adventist Accrediting Association of Seventh-day Adventist Schools, Colleges and Universities
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Southwestern Adventist University is focused on delivering Christ-centered and Bible-based learning under the teachings and message of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Based in Keene, Texas, you can choose between earning a BA in Religion, Theology, or Christian Studies. This virtual education option hopes to bridge students to affordable, quality education that allows flexibility and access to different scholarship opportunities.

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Naropa University

Boulder, CO

Degree Programs Offered (On-campus/Hybrid)

  • Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies
  • Master of Arts in Yoga Studies
  • Master of Divinity

Accrediting Agency

  • Higher Learning Commission

Naropa University is a private, nonprofit, non-sectarian institution with Buddhist-inspired themes combining Eastern wisdom with Western traditions. They are the heart of the modern mindfulness movement, allowing students to gain not only competitive and critical thinking skills but also self-awareness and brand new life experiences. They offer hybrid course offerings, with a variety of subjects that can be taken through their distance learning platform.

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Columbia International University

Columbia, SC

Degree Programs Offered (On-campus and Online)

  • Master of Arts in Theological Studies
  • Master of Arts in Ministry Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Bible Studies

Accrediting Agencies

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Association for Biblical Higher Education
  • Association of Theological Schools

Columbia International University is a private, Christian international institution that offers a comprehensive undergraduate and master’s program that is rooted in a Biblical Studies core. Their South Carolina campus offers a BS in Bible Studies program where students can choose between Old or New Testament specializations, or customize electives to suit their interests. Additionally, they offer an online MA program in Theological Studies and Ministry Studies under the Columbia Biblical Seminary, with excellent faculty members who can provide expert mentoring to those who are under the program.

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Saint Leo University

Saint Leo, FL

Degree Programs Offered (On-campus and Online)

  • Bachelor of Arts in Religion
  • Master of Arts in Theology

Accrediting Agency

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Saint Leo University, an accredited institution by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission, offers both an online and an on-campus option for completing your BA in Religion, with options for hybrid learning to better suit your learning goals and busy schedule (occasional weekend coursework with flexible online components). They offer three paths under their Religion and Theology Degree options, including an online MA program in Theology and an in-campus Minor in Religion.

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Zaytuna College

Berkeley, CA

Degree Programs Offered (On-campus)

  • Liberal Arts
  • Bachelor of Arts in Islamic Law and Theology
  • Master of Arts in Islamic Texts

Accrediting Agency:

  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission

As a leading multi-faith institution grounded in Islamic scholarly tradition and values, Zaytuna College offers three main academic paths that you can choose to complete in their Berkley, California campus. It is the first American Muslim college to be recognized and accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, cementing its status as a leading Muslim liberal arts college and tertiary institution for Islamic Studies.

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Beulah Heights University

Atlanta, GA

Degree Programs Offered (On-campus and Online)

  • Associate of Arts/Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies
  • Master of Arts in Religious Studies

Accrediting Agencies

  • Association for Biblical Higher Education
  • State of Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission

The Department of Religious Study at Beulah Heights University values the importance of delivering quality education to on-campus and online enrollees. With that being said, they offer all tracks in religious studies both in-person and through their very own distance learning platform, Beulah360™. This online tool allows students to access different learning tools and resources despite geographical and schedule-related challenges. Their online portal also allows close communication between students and their professors, facilitating and getting the most out of online learning.

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Athens State University

Athens, AL

Degree Programs Offered (On-campus and Online)

  • Bachelor of Arts/Master of Arts in Religion
  • Religion/Religious Education Minor

Accrediting Agencies

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • National Association of State Directors of Teachers Education Certification

Initiated in the year 1938, the Religious Studies and Ethics Program of Athens State University allows students to gain access to quality, affordable education regardless of their backgrounds and where they are in the world. They have an expanded course offering in general, which includes both BA and MA programs in Religion. Additionally, for those who wish to study under distance learning modalities, Athens State University has developed virtual learning courses that can help those who cannot make it to the physical campus complete the necessary course requirements from home.

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University of Central Florida

Orlando, FL

Degree Programs Offered (On-campus and Online)

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Religion and Cultural Studies

Accrediting Agency

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Certified by Forbes as one of the most affordable colleges in the US, and additionally, a best-value university by The Princeton Review, University of Central Florida seeks to break barriers in delivering quality programs, particularly in Religion and Cultural Studies. Students have the option to complete a 100% online BA program, although there may be elective courses and pre-requisites that may require learners to be present at the physical campus. Nonetheless, UCF allows more flexible and cost-effective options, deducting campus-based fees as necessary.

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Catholic Distance University

Charlestown, WV

Degree Programs Offered (Online)

  • Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts with a Concentration in Catholic Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Theology
  • Master of Arts in Theology
  • Master of Arts in Theology and Educational Ministry

Accrediting Agencies

  • Distance Education Accrediting Commission
  • The Association of Theological Schools (for graduate programs)

Duly recognized by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission and The Association for Theological Schools, Catholic Distance University has been a pioneer in distance learning modalities, serving the public since 1983 and offering online programs since 2000. It upholds the values and teachings of the Catholic faith, with online course offerings for students who wish to pursue an associate’s degree in Liberal Arts, a Bachelor’s degree in Theology, or a Master’s degree in Theology or Theology and Educational Ministry. Certificate programs are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate level as well, and transfer credits are generously accepted. CDU is an accredited and fully online university that is committed to providing faithful Catholic education to learners everywhere regardless of geographic limitations.

* text provided by the University

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Eastern New Mexico University

Portales, NM

Degree Programs Offered (Online/On-campus)

  • Bachelor of Arts in Religion
  • Bachelor of Science in Religion

Accrediting Agency

  • Higher Learning Commission

Do you wish to enter a religious vocation in the future, answer a higher calling, or seek more knowledge about your spirituality? The BA/BS in Religion program offered by the Eastern New Mexico University focuses on laying out the foundation for every student. It helps enrollees gain a vast understanding of the co-existence of science and spirituality, the moral and historical implication of faith, and the questions raised by the world’s religions. The school offers both an online and an on-campus option for their baccalaureate programs.