What are Religiously affiliated Colleges and Universities in the USA?

Discover the meaning of Best Religious Affiliated Colleges and Universities in the United States.

Updated by Ankita Tiwari on 17th June 2019

What does Religious Affiliation mean?

Religiously Affiliated Colleges supposedly are not schools or colleges, which focus completely on a particular religion to prepare students for religious service. Instead, these colleges have official religious affiliations that are heavily incorporated into their cultures, but still, accept applicants who do not identify with their affiliated faith. These colleges do not require their student bodies to perceive or follow their traditions.

At the same time, there are only a handful of institutions, such as the University of Notre Dame, Baylor University, and Georgetown University, and more which are focused on research.

Universities like Pepperdine, which is affiliated with the Churches of Christ, offers undergraduate divisions in Business Management, Public Administration, Arts and more.

These colleges not only strive towards the intellectual and academic development of the students but spiritual development as well.

While searching for colleges, when you discover a college is religiously affiliated, are you disinterested or even more excited to send in your application? Well, to be honest, the differences among the colleges may not be as significant as you think.

Best Religiously Affiliated Colleges in 2019

Below you can find the top 10 religiously affiliated colleges are given below. 

Difference between Religiously Affiliated and Secular Colleges

A student who wants to pursue any degree in religious colleges may be asked to have some knowledge about the religion that is followed. Whereas in secular colleges, it is not necessary.

For religious colleges, faith and values play a very large role in the college. The procedure of teaching, learning, rules to be followed can be influenced by religion. But these factors are not necessary. These cases don’t apply to secular colleges.

Secular colleges focus mostly on the humanistic approach.

The tolerance level is high in secular colleges. Religious colleges focus more on morality.

Private secular colleges can cost more, and the same applies to religiously affiliated colleges. The tuition and fees can be very expensive for Christian Colleges.

What is Religious Affiliation?

Source- www.newwaysministry.org

Which Religious Affiliated College to Choose?

There are thousands of colleges to choose from, whether you’re religious or not. Some of the factors to consider are as follows.

Academics - You should be clear on what program to pursue. A lot of religiously affiliated colleges have professors from different backgrounds and offer an excellent education. Many colleges keep religion and academics separate, however, you may be asked to go to chapel or prayers. Choose the one in which you're interested in.

Influence of religion - A lot of schools are religiously affiliated but are not depended on it completely. Others are highly influenced and shape their curriculum according to their faith. You may be asked to take up religion classes. You should research whether you want a religiously objective education, or not.

How to know if a College is Religiously Affiliated?

Most of them mention it on their website, and you can further read about it in brochures. Colleges which are religiously oriented, mention it on their website so that the students aiming to join this college are clear about where they are coming to, and what norms they need to follow.

Should you join these Religiously affiliated institutions?

The college you decide to seek admission to plays a major role in developing your personality. Hence it is of utmost importance that you choose one of your kind.

Following are the points to be considered if you are pondering over whether to join a religion-affiliated college or not. All these criterions vary from one institute to another.

Pros of Religiously Affiliated Colleges

There can be many positive aspects of attending a religiously affiliated school. You may find it empowering to be surrounded by like-minded people and to have friends and professors who share your core beliefs.

If you are religious then you may love the fact that your religion is interwoven in your college life and being religious may help you find solace in difficult times in your college life.

  • This atmosphere may deepen your convictions and strengthen your spirituality, while at the same time, teach you more about your religion.

  • It may be easier to embrace and prioritize your faith with frequent reminders and encouragement from other students and staff members.

  • Having religious services available on campus can be convenient, and makes it easier to regularly attend the same.

  • Avoiding a party atmosphere is probably less difficult at a faith-based school.

  • There may be more access to mentors, in the form of chaplains or other religious advisors, and more encouragement to make a difference by starting your own clubs and ministries, attending mission trips, and volunteering in faith-based organizations and charities.

  • Religiously Affiliated College will help foster a stronger sense of belonging to your community.

  • It can lead to a better learning experience as the college community is usually closer.

  • A more religiously moral study structure may help better your humanitarian side.

  • Might lead to greater moral accountability when social behavior is concerned.

Cons of Religiously Affiliated Colleges

A college should provide a social atmosphere where students can learn social aspects of life and grow through life experiences.

Some of the cons are given here.

  • Maybe stricter than normal colleges.

  • May try to force religious views on students.

  • High tuition fees

  • May have lesser streams of studies available to choose from.

  • Many religious colleges may not be fully accredited by the proper education authorities.

  • The college may ask students to attend religious ceremonies.

  • Very uncommon but some orthodox religious teachers may have shallow views about other religions and other practices.

  • The perspective on things might be confined to religious beliefs and be narrow.

The Student Experience

At some schools with religious affiliations, like Boston University and Georgetown University in the District of Columbia, the student experience is largely unaffected. At other schools, students may be required to sign up for a religion class or attend some sort of regular events like a convocation or some ceremony, along with their studies.

There are scholarships and financial aids offered to the students since the tuition can be really high.

 [Also Read: Religion Scholarships you can apply]

There are colleges which don't let students take any of the government aid. You have policies for each type of students and LGBT rights.

You might enroll in a religiously affiliated college but that doesn't mean you can't have your own preferences.

You also get scholarships for professional athletic opportunities in the future.

If you are serious about a sport, you want to try for athletics which is a wonderful way to make friends, improve your athletic skills and experience team camaraderie.


Accreditors scrutinize colleges, universities and educational programs for quality assurance and quality improvement.

The faith-related accreditors operate nationally and review religiously affiliated institutions.

Religious Affiliated Colleges Student Experience


Myths about Religiously Affiliated Colleges

There may be some misconceptions prospective international students have about religiously affiliated colleges. For example, students usually don't have to identify with a particular religion to attend a college that is affiliated with it.

Myth 1 - The colleges are not welcoming

Fact - The religiously affiliated schools welcome people of all faiths, including those exploring their faith and people of no faith but goodwill. So the myth of not being welcoming is busted.

Myth 2 -The colleges have many rules.

Fact - Some rules are present but that doesn't stop the students from having fun.

Myth 3 -There are no co-ed religious institutions.

Fact - That’s a joke right?  Just take the examples of some of the universities like Liberty University. It is a co-ed institution offering hundreds of programs.

Myth 4 - You would be orthodox or conservative if you’re enrolling in a religious institution.

Fact - This isn’t true. The religiously affiliated colleges accept students from different backgrounds and beliefs. The colleges can be conservative, but you don’t necessarily have to be.  

Before seeking admissions to these religion associated institutes, keep in mind the following points.

Talk to current students to get a feel of the general perceptions on campus. Research each college as much as possible.

Not all religiously-affiliated colleges are similar, even if they follow the same religion. Don’t pick a college mainly based on its religious teachings, but instead on all the affirmative personal and academic aspects.


Let me summarise you with what is really meant by Religiously Affiliated Colleges

Many of the oldest colleges and universities in America were influenced by religious norms and policies.

Gradually, many universities and colleges formally broke ties with their originating faith, while many still continue to hold on to their founding affiliations. Some prominent examples of this type of institutes are Catholic Universities, Islamic Universities and Hindu Colleges in America.

Religious-affiliated colleges offer a sense of familiar atmosphere; follow the same rules and norms at home. You will benefit from strong community ethics and spiritual life.

These colleges might be expensive compared to other non-affiliated colleges but the integration and faith in their education qualities are high.