Which Well-Known Schools Offer Graduate Programs in Religion?

Graduate degree programs in religion are available at hundreds of colleges and universities across the nation. Those who complete advanced degrees programs in areas like religious studies and theology often seek careers in teaching, research or church work. Keep reading to review the religion-focused programs at three well-known schools. Schools offering Christian Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Religion Graduate Program Overview

A graduate degree in religion qualifies students for a variety of careers in numerous industries. Outlined below are three of the top religion graduate programs, and some specifics concerning each.

Important Facts About Religion Graduate Programs

Certificate Levels Graduate certificate is also available
Prerequisites High school diploma, equivalent; GRE test score
Online Availability Fully available for master's and doctorate degrees
Possible Careers Program administrator, policy development, international law, volunteer coordinator, teacher, librarian
Median Salary (2018) $78,470 (for postsecondary teachers)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 15% growth (for postsecondary teachers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Harvard University

Harvard University, the oldest university in the country, is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. The private school regularly earns the top spot on ranking lists evaluating the best undergraduate and graduate programs across the world. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Harvard as the second-best U.S. institution of higher learning in 2019.

Doctoral students select one of 18 areas of concentration but enroll in courses in other areas related to the subjects of divinity, spirituality and history. Harvard is regarded as one of the most selective institutions in the world, a reputation embodied in the acceptance rate of its Ph.D. in Religious Studies program. Only five percent of applicants to the 7-year program are admitted.

Regardless of specialization, all doctoral students complete a seminar on the history of religion as a subject of critical inquiry and another on contemporary conversations in religious studies. A 300-page dissertation is required to graduate.

Concentration areas are:

  • Greco-Roman Religions
  • Hebrew Bible
  • African Religions
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • South Asian Religions
  • Theology
  • Religion and Modernity
  • New Testament and Early Christianity
  • Jewish Studies
  • Religion in the Americas
  • History of Christianity
  • Islamic Studies
  • Buddhist Studies
  • East Asian Religions
  • Ethics
  • Hindu Studies
  • Religion and Society
  • Religion, Gender and Culture

The University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame is a 4-year, private Catholic school located just outside of South Bend, Indiana. The school's total undergraduate and graduate student enrollment is about 12,000. The Department of Theology, which is housed in Notre Dame's Division of Humanities, confers four types of master's degrees and one doctoral degree.

Since the University of Notre Dame is associated with the Congregation of Holy Cross, Catholic culture is an important aspect of the campus culture. Graduate students who study theology regularly interact with spiritual students and clergy on campus. In fact, lay people are also known to share their religious thoughts and perspectives with graduate seminars, according to the department website.

Areas of study include:

  • Systematic Theology
  • Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity
  • Liturgical Studies
  • History of Christianity
  • Moral Theology/Christian Ethics
  • World Religions and World Church

The University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League school located in Philadelphia's historic district. Penn is the only Ivy League school in Pennsylvania. According to U.S. News & World Report, Penn is the eighth-best university in the nation as of 2019.

The Department of Religious Studies at Penn is known for its work in the areas of Christianity, Judaism, Islam and the African-American religious experience. At present, the only available degree is a Ph.D. Doctoral students are also awarded a master's degree after successfully completing the program.

The graduate program assigns students an adviser who assists them in designing their own course of study. The program consists of three stages. Students must first complete general religion coursework and pass examinations before choosing a concentration. After passing examinations in their area of concentration, students complete a dissertation and make an oral defense.

Concentration areas include:

  • Judaism in Late Antiquity
  • The Medieval and Early Modern Periods
  • The Modern Period
  • Christian Origins
  • Medieval and Modern Christianity
  • Islamic History and Thought
  • Religions of South and East Asia
  • Religion in the African-American Experience

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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