What are Religiously affiliated Colleges, Universities, and Schools in the USA?

Religiously Affiliated Universities and Colleges are those which are affiliated to a particular religion and integrates faith and education as one. To know more about what is meant by religious affiliation and what distinguishes these religiously affiliated institutes from other colleges, go ahead and read the blog.

Posted by Ankita Tiwari on 16th February 2018

What Does Religious Affiliation Mean?

Racial and 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.


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.

Source- www.newwaysministry.org

Should you join these Religiously Affiliated Institutions?

The college you decide to seek admission into 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

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.

  • 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.

  • You may make friends with similar views as your own. A more religiously moral study structure may help better your humanitarian side.

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

  • Might be cheaper and may have some extra perks or advantages.

Cons of Religiously Affiliated Colleges

Just like a coin has two sides, so does religious affiliation. Some of the points are given here.

  • Maybe stricter than normal colleges.

  • May try to force religious views on students.

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

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

  • 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.

How Are Religiously Affiliated Colleges Different From Other Colleges?

It is purely based on the student whether to attend a religion based college or not. When we talk about Christian Colleges, it varies from the normal colleges and universities.

Some Factors

  • It is quite different from other colleges, the procedure of teaching, learning, rules to be followed and the cost of education.

  • For many Christian Colleges, the tuition fee is really high; I can say ten folds more than the normal college fees. 

  • A student who wants to pursue any degree in such colleges should possess some extra qualities and should have some knowledge about the religion that is followed.

Few questions that are addressed by the students and the teachers are given here.

Questions on Faith - This is mainly asked because a teacher or a student can’t withstand in any college without faith and belief in god and religious aspects.

Questions on Teaching - They might also ask how and why they are interested in a religious college and their strengths and weak points.

Questions on Collegiality - Since religious colleges emphasize their communal identities, issues of collegiality may play more of a role here than at other kinds of institutions.

Why Religious Affiliation Can Be Good?

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.

  • 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.

How did it all begin?

Emergence Of Non-Secular Colleges

  • It might surprise a few but the greater number of the colleges and universities founded in the American colonies from the 17th century through the 19th century had some kind of denominational sponsorship, typically evangelical Protestant.

  • Introduction of compulsory chapel attendance, scripture or 'Christian scriptures' in the curriculum, and student religious groups and more.

  • These were very notable features of college life. But it's not easy to define one particular religion which operates all of the institutions back then.

Secular Institutions

The largely secular institutions that we know today is Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Duke University, and hundreds of other colleges and universities and even some private schools.

The history of education in the higher school ties a knot to connect renewed interest in religion on campus and turns-around worth noting any religion. Few people also traced the growth of estrangement between colleges and churches.

How an Ideal Religiously Affiliated College is Like

Every time something new is established it comes across many challenges and faces many obstacles, few of which are identified. The religious-affiliated college should follow certain norms and values.  

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

  • Influence by professors is another crucial aspect. They should have a good impact on students and shouldn’t be partial towards students belonging to a particular race, religion, sex and more. 

  • There shouldn’t be any kind of discrimination on grounds such as race, religion, and sex among students. The college authorities are duly responsible to maintain equality among all students.

  • The college fees should be lesser. Certain religious colleges are very expensive.

  • No student should be forced to do anything such as attend religious ceremonies and festivals without their consent.

  • The college should not follow malpractices in the name of religion and god.

Criterions to Consider if You are Willing to join a Religiously Affiliated College

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.

Brigham Young University is sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

''As such, there is a strict code of conduct that is required of all students, as well as certain religion courses that are part of the general curriculum," says Sam Brown, Director of International Services at BYU in Utah.



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.

  • Bob Howe, Assistant Vice President for Communications and Special Adviser to the president at Fordham University, a Jesuit university in New York, says the school welcomes people of all faiths, including those exploring their faith and people of no faith but goodwill.

  • Before seeking admissions to these racial or 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.


  • There are scholarships and financial aids offered to the students. 

  • 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.

Religiously Affiliated Colleges and Universities

Some of the famous religiously affiliated colleges and universities are given.

Religiously Affiliated Universities
Ashford University Florida Technical College
Baptist College Pepperdine University
Bible College Fresno Pacific University


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 with 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.



  Do I have to be a religious worshipper to attend a religious college?

You are not required to follow a particular religion but you need to abide by the norms and rules regarding faith. Seeking admission to such colleges demands respect, if not worship, for all religions.

  What does religious affiliation mean for a college?  

Unlike the non religiously affiliated colleges, these colleges have an official affiliation to a religion or religious practices but they do not need their students to observe the same.

  What are secular universities?

Secular universities are governed by public bodies and there is a separation between state and religion. It is not linked with any particular faith, race or religion.

  Is Chapman University a religious school?  

Chapman University is not a Christian College, but a church-related school. The college is related to two churches - for 150 years throughout the formation of the academic institution, it has been connected with The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and since 2011, also with The United Church of Christ.


  What are the scholarship schemes for admissions to religiously affiliated colleges?  

There are Scholarships and Financial Aid granted by these colleges. Some of the colleges do not allow students to take government aid. There are faith-centered accreditors to provide accreditation to these religious colleges. Different colleges have their own scholarship schemes, for example, a scholarship for athletes.


  Do Christian Colleges allow students of varying faiths to enroll?

Rarely do schools place restrictions on applicants regarding faith, and the majority of faith-centric schools welcome applicants of different faiths who might be interested in attending a school that designs student life within a certain facet of Christianity.


  Does the college favor those who follow the same religion as affiliated by the college?

Most of the colleges do not discriminate on the grounds of the religion and provide a friendly environment where everyone is treated equally.


  Do they offer high-quality education in terms of academic courses?  

There are many religiously affiliated colleges which offer high-value quality education and a plethora of courses, thus leading to skyrocketing college fees.