Education

Best Comparative Religion Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top Comparative Religion programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

Comparative religion is the study of the world’s religions. It is an interdisciplinary field that draws on the methods and theories of history, anthropology, sociology, psychology, and philosophy. Comparative religion degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers in the study of religion, including religious studies, theology, and ministry.

Comparative religion degrees offer a broad overview of the world’s religions, covering topics such as the history of religion, the sociology of religion, and the psychology of religion. Students in comparative religion degree programs learn about the different aspects of religion, and how to compare and contrast the different religions.

How to Choose the Right Comparative Religion Program

When choosing a comparative religion program, there are many things to consider. The first is what you hope to gain from the program. Do you want to learn about different religions so that you can be more tolerant of others, or do you want to prepare for a career in religious studies? There are programs that cater to both of these goals, so it is important to know what you want before you begin your search.

Another important factor to consider is the cost of the program. Some programs are more expensive than others, and you will need to factor in the cost of tuition, room and board, and other associated expenses. If you are concerned about the cost of the program, you may want to consider attending a community college or a school with a generous financial aid program.

Finally, you need to consider the location of the program. Some programs are offered online, while others are offered at brick-and-mortar schools. If you have a preference for one type of program over the other, you will need to factor that into your decision. You should also consider the location of the school itself. Some students prefer to attend school in a big city, while others prefer a more rural setting.

By considering these factors, you can narrow down your choices and find the comparative religion program that is right for you.

Best Bachelor’s in Comparative Religion Programs

The best programs for Comparative Religion ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
Syracuse University
Syracuse, NY

The Bachelor of Arts in Religion from Syracuse University is an interdisciplinary program that focuses on the study of religious traditions, their impact on society, and philosophical inquiry. The program offers courses on a wide range of religious traditions, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism.

Rank 2
Clemson University
Clemson, SC

The Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Clemson University is an interdisciplinary humanities program that focuses on the academic study of the world’s religious traditions and how they are related to various aspects of human existence (psychology, sociology, ethics, philosophy, language, economics, politics, science, etc.)

Rank 3
California State University-Fullerton
Fullerton, CA

The Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from California State University-Fullerton can be completed via fully face-to-face classes or a combination of face-to-face and online classes. The program has four main graduation categories that students must fulfill, in addition to university and other elective requirements.

Rank 4
University of San Francisco
San Francisco, CA

The Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Religious Studies from University of San Francisco is a degree that reflects the university’s justice and service-oriented mission. Theology and Religious Studies majors will learn about different religious traditions and how they shape the world. They will also develop an understanding of the religious dimensions of their own lives. The program encourages students to explore the religious dimensions of their own lives, appreciate the role of religion in life, and develop awareness of the relationship between faith and justice.

Rank 5
University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS

The Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from the University of Kansas is a research-intensive program that focuses on the world’s diversity of religious cultures and the ways in which religion shapes our lives. The program provides students with a broad knowledge of religious traditions and issues, and trains them in research and writing skills that are valuable in any profession. The curriculum is organized into three areas: Western, Eastern, and North American religions, and students can choose to focus on a specific region or tradition.

Rank 6
Seattle University
Seattle, WA

The Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Religious Studies from Seattle University is a very flexible program that allows students to choose between two specializations: Christian Theology or Comparative Religion. The program requires a minimum of 180 credits for completion and provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to engage critically and effectively with the multi-religious dimensions of human life. Theology and Religious Studies majors will study the internal diversity within Christianity and other religious traditions such as Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. In addition, students in the program will study the experiences and realities of oppressed peoples and the integral relationship between religion and social justice in local and global contexts.

Rank 7
Central Methodist University
Fayette, MO

The Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Religion & Philosophy from Central Methodist University is a great choice for students who want to learn about the ideas and practices that have shaped our world. The program will encourage students to actively examine their own moral, spiritual, and ethical foundations. Classes will explore methods for comparing across the religious and philosophical landscape.

Rank 8
Florida International University
Miami, FL

The Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Florida International University is an interdisciplinary degree that provides students with a thorough study of the history, beliefs, and practices of the world’s religions. The curriculum is comparative and cross-cultural, with a focus on peace and conflict, and gaining a deeper understanding of communities of multiple religious faiths.

The program requires a total of 120 credits for completion, with 36 credits specifically in religious studies courses. Students must take a capstone course covering advanced methodology in the study of religion.

Rank 9
Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, VA

The Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University provides students with knowledge of the nature, history, diversity and common themes that characterize religious traditions. The curriculum offers students the opportunity to study Eastern and Western traditions and to explore the artistic, ethical, literary, psychological and social dimensions of religions, as well as the relationship between religious ideas, institutions, and practices and gender, sexuality, race, nationality, health, social justice, human rights and nature.

Rank 10
Cleveland State University
Cleveland, OH

The Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Religion at Cleveland State University is a unique program that approaches the study of religion from a cultural perspective. The goal of the program is to foster critical thinking and formal reasoning skills in order to understand the impact of religion on human experience.

What to Expect From a Bachelor’s in Comparative Religion Program

Students in a bachelor’s degree program in comparative religion study the origins, histories and contemporary practices of major world religions. They also learn to analyze religious texts and to compare and contrast the beliefs and practices of different faith traditions.

Most comparative religion programs offer a broad overview of the world’s major religions, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Students also learn about indigenous religions, such as those practiced in Africa, the Americas and Asia. In addition to coursework, students in a comparative religion program may be required to complete an internship or a research project.

To succeed in a comparative religion program, students need to be able to think critically and to express themselves clearly in writing and speech. They should also be open-minded and respectful of different religious beliefs and practices.

Common Comparative Religion Courses

A comparative religion degree program will likely have a curriculum that includes a mix of religious studies courses and general education classes. The courses below are examples of what you might take as a comparative religion major.

World Religions

This course is an introduction to the study of religion from a comparative perspective. The course will survey the major world religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Sikhism. The course will explore the nature of religion, the ways in which religions are similar and different, the impact of religion on society, and the challenges posed by religious diversity in the modern world. Upon completion of the course, students should be able to understand and compare the major world religions, and to think critically about the impact of religion on society.

Buddhism

This course covers the major teachings of the Buddha and the development of Buddhism in India and throughout Asia. Emphasis is placed on the major texts, the rise of Mahayana Buddhism, and the spread of Buddhism to Tibet, China, Japan, and Southeast Asia. Upon completion, students should be able to explain the major teachings of the Buddha and describe the development of Buddhism in India and Asia.

Christianity

This course is an introduction to the history, beliefs, and practices of Christianity. Emphasis is placed on the development of Christianity from its Jewish roots through its institutionalization in the Roman Empire. Topics include the life and teachings of Jesus, the Pauline tradition, the development of the New Testament canon, the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire, and the split between Eastern and Western Christianity. Upon completion, students should be able to explain the major beliefs and practices of Christianity and describe the major events in its history.

Islam

This course covers the major beliefs and practices of Islam, with an emphasis on its historical development and contemporary expression. Topics include the Qur’an and Hadith, the Five Pillars of Islam, the Sunni-Shia split, the role of women in Islam, jihad, and Sufism. Upon completion, students should be able to explain the major tenets of Islam and describe its practices, as well as compare and contrast Islam with other major world religions.

Religion in America

This course surveys the religious beliefs and practices of the various religious groups in America. Emphasis is placed on the interaction of religion and other social institutions in American life. Upon completion, students should be able to describe the major religious groups in America and analyze the impact of religion on American culture.

Career Options for Comparative Religion Graduates

Graduates of comparative religion programs work in a variety of fields and industries, including ministry, education, publishing, and counseling. They may also work in fields such as social work, chaplaincy, and hospital administration.

Religion Professor

Religion professors typically teach courses in their area of expertise at a college or university. Their courses might cover a specific religion, such as Christianity, Islam, or Judaism; a theological topic, like ethics or scripture; or a religious history or culture. In addition to preparing and delivering lectures, professors also assign and grade papers, advise students, and conduct research. Many religion professors specialize in a particular area, such as the New Testament, the history of Christianity in America, or Buddhist thought.

Chaplain

Chaplains are clergy members who provide religious and spiritual guidance to people in a non-church setting. They work in hospitals, the military, prisons, and other places where people may be going through a tough time. As a chaplain, you might provide comfort to people who are sick, offer support to families dealing with a loved one’s illness, or be a resource for people who are struggling with addiction or grief. You might also offer guidance to people who are facing ethical dilemmas or major life decisions.

Youth Minister

A youth minister is responsible for the religious education and spiritual development of young people in a church or other religious organization. In many cases, the minister will also be responsible for organizing and leading youth group activities, such as service projects, retreats, and trips. The minister may also be responsible for counseling young people and their families on personal and spiritual matters.

Pastoral Counselor

Pastoral counselors are clergy members who have received specialized training in mental health counseling. They work with individuals, couples, and families to address a wide range of psychological issues from a faith-based perspective. Pastoral counselors often work in churches, but they can also be found in hospitals, community centers, private practices, and other settings. In addition to providing counseling services, pastoral counselors may also be responsible for leading support groups, performing crisis intervention, giving speeches and workshops, and providing other community outreach services.

Community Outreach Coordinator

Community outreach is often a priority for nonprofits, educational institutions, and public sector entities where communicating with members of the public is essential. As a community outreach coordinator, you might operate as a point of contact and to balance both internal needs and external factors, which can require careful strategizing and planning, extensive communication, use of technology, and discretion. A typical day may involve attending public events, scheduling and calendaring for future happenings, posting social media updates, and responding to public inquiries.

Insights From a Comparative Religion Graduate

Raelynn Leon is a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant at Google. She has a bachelor’s degree in comparative religion from Harvard University. Raelynn has over 10 years of experience in diversity and inclusion consulting.

ClimbtheLadder: How did you make the most of your Comparative Religion degree program so that it prepared you for post-graduation jobs?

Raelynn Leon: I took advantage of the opportunity to study abroad. I studied in Japan, China, and India for a semester each. I also took advantage of the opportunity to take classes outside of my major. I took classes in sociology, psychology, and history. I think that the skills that I learned in those classes have been just as important as the skills that I learned in my major.

ClimbtheLadder: What are the most rewarding aspects of your career? What are the most challenging aspects of your career?

Raelynn Leon: The most rewarding aspect of my career is being able to help people from all walks of life feel included in the workplace. I know what it’s like to feel like you don’t belong, and I want to help others feel like they do. The most challenging aspect of my career is that it can be emotionally draining. It’s important to take care of yourself so that you can continue to do the important work that you do.

ClimbtheLadder: What was the most challenging course you took? What advice would you give to students who are about to start this course?

Raelynn Leon: The most challenging course I took was a course on the history of Christianity. It was very challenging because it was a lot of reading and there was a lot of material to cover. My advice to students who are about to start this course is to be prepared to do a lot of reading and to be prepared to discuss the material in class.

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