Classroom with singing bowl

Bachelors Degree in Religious Studies

Most religious studies programs focus on the intellectual exploration of text, ritual, and culture. At Naropa University, we go deeper.

Naropa University offers an opportunity to expand your knowledge and understanding of diverse traditions including Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam—while also giving you the chance to expand your knowledge of yourself and the world.

Built on a foundation of interreligious study, dialogue, and contemplative experience, your Religious Studies degree provides the tools to work with inner and outer parts of your being. Meditation and mindfulness will help you cultivate positive attributes of your mental and emotional selves, while community-based projects give you a chance to apply these principles in action.

As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said, "If I went back to college today, I think I would probably major in comparative religion, because that's how integrated it is in everything that we are working on and deciding and thinking about in life today." 

Lucas Sego

Student Highlight

"My time at Naropa provided the fundamental tools to actively engage in the transformation of the world and then use that work to profoundly transform myself. I can do both at the same time. That, I believe, is not only a tremendous gift to me, but to an Earth community increasingly in crisis as well."  

— Lucas Sego
Religious Studies Student

More Alumni/Student Stories

Religious Studies majors go on to pursue careers in a wide variety of fields:

  • Business / international business
  • Journalism / publishing
  • Law, marketing, and management
  • The government, foreign service, or humanitarian work
  • Nonprofit or non-governmental administration
  • Counseling and social work 


Did you know?

Religious Studies majors:

  • Rank #2 on LSAT*
  • Rank # 6 on GRE* Analytical Writing and Verbal
  • Outperform Business Majors on GMAT*
  • Humanities majors score higher than Biology majors on the MCAT*
  • Over 40% of Harvard and Stanford Business School admissions are Humanities majors

*LSAT (Law School Admission Test) GRE (Graduate Record Exam) GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test)
**Source: It Takes More than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success. 2013. Washington, D.C.: Association of American Colleges and Universities and Hart Research Associates. View the Key Findings from 2013 Survey of Employers and related employer findings.

What makes this program different?


Augment your Religious Studies degree program with courses in Sanskrit or Tibetan language.

Religious Studies Retreat

Participate in two group retreats with fellow Religious Studies majors in which you will develop friendships, learn about the contemplative practices of different religions, and explore career options.

Contemplative Practice Intensive

Complete a one-to-four-week meditation intensive in the religious tradition of your choice to deepen your knowledge and experience of that tradition.

Featured Religious Studies Courses

  • Meditation Practicum I: Freeing the Mind
  • Religion and Mystical Experience
  • Embodying Sacred Wisdom: Modern Saints
  • Spirituality and Creative Expression
See All Courses


Program Learning Outcomes

  • Knowledge of Religious Traditions - Students demonstrate knowledge of religious traditions including historical context, terminology and theoretical concepts and critical analysis.
  • Contemplative Practice - Students demonstrate engagement with and expression of contemplative practice.
  • Diversity Within and Between Religious Traditions - Students demonstrate understanding of difference and awareness of cultural context within and across religious traditions.


Credits Required


Your Religious Studies program is part of your overall 120-credit hour contemplative undergraduate degree at Naropa.

Degree Requirements

What to Expect from Religious Studies

Study in small, interactive classes (typically well below 20 students), which provide a rich environment of close interaction between you and your professors.

At Naropa, we emphasize the synthesis of traditional modes of academic study with contemplative and experiential inquiry that represents the cutting-edge of nontraditional, innovative methods of learning. We incorporate meditation, self-inquiry, group processes, somatic and artistic modes of inquiry, and community-based projects into our curriculum, as well as many other methods.


Student Highlight

“Simply by being a part of the Naropa community, I am discovering how to set my fears free. Wisdom is present in every professor, every student, every plant. I feel that I am becoming more human; to me, that is the best preparation for the future I could possibly attain.”

— Anna Hall
Religious Studies, 2019

Religious Studies Bachelor's Degree Program Faculty

Our faculty are internationally renowned scholars, translators, and practitioners who challenge and inspire students in an intense but supportive environment. Our Religious Studies faculty are particularly strong in the fields of Buddhist Studies, Jewish Studies (including Kabbalah and Hasidism), Hinduism (including yoga), and Contemplative Christianity. Included on our faculty are lineage holders (several lamas, rabbis, yogis, acharyas, and Christian ministers as well as Taoist, Zen, and Catholic priests).

Naropa’s Religious Studies faculty have published numerous books and articles in their fields of expertise and regularly contribute to the larger field of Religious Studies through conferences, retreats, and conventions. Our faculty are committed to cultivating an environment of intellectual inquiry and personal discovery that will provide you with a uniquely rewarding educational experience.



Zvi Ish-Shalom, PhD

Faculty Highlight

“At Naropa, we teach how to cultivate wisdom. And true wisdom is discovered in the ‘not knowing,’ in the paradoxes. When this kind of openness to the mystery is integrated with the body, mind, and heart, then our wisdom can be expressed more authentically in the world.” 

— Zvi Ish-Shalom, PhD
Assistant Professor Religious Studies // Core Faculty

learn more about the faculty