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BA in Religious Studies

Religious Studies Degree

Naropa’s Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies offers students a unique opportunity to study religion from both a contemplative as well as an academic perspective, building a solid understanding of religion in society, and its relevance to the human experience.

Program Overview

Naropa’s Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies offers courses that examine and explore the phenomenon of religion and its effect on individuals and culture.

Naropa’s approach to the study of religion is respectful, nonsectarian, contemplative, as well as critical. You will study religion from both a history of religions standpoint, as well as the perspective of the practitioner, and on occasion, experientially. 

Naropa’s Religious Studies program focuses on historical religious traditions and emerging forms of religious practice, including historical context, theoretical concepts, nomenclature, and an experiential understanding. Thus, students will be given the opportunity to gain a true understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures and beliefs in depth.

Naropa’s contemplative approach challenges students to consider and/or reconsider religion from a personal and experiential perspective, and to understand the perspectives of others within religious traditions in context.

Students will learn to articulate religious perspectives in a collaborative learning environment. This involves actively participating in group discussions and sharing insights.

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Quick Facts

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Program Format

Naropa University’s undergraduate program is a four-year, fully accredited Bachelor of Arts Degree program. The Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies is a 37-credit major in which students explore religion in a variety of ways, with an emphasis on contemplative practices and traditions. Course offerings include African, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sufi traditions.

All students must take a series of 12 credits that introduce the study of religion and contemplative practice.

Students also choose 9 credits from Religious Traditions courses, which serve as introductory studies of major world religions, 6 credits from Contemporary Issues in Religion courses, and 9 credits from Contemplative Practice courses.

Your religious studies degree will include a diversity of courses as rich and varied as jobs for religious studies graduates. 

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Course Spotlight

Meditation Practicum I: Freeing the Mind

In this course, students delve into the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of shamatha-vipashyana through sitting meditation. Weekly lectures focus on experiential facets like understanding impermanence, managing emotions, and fostering maitri, or loving-kindness. Alongside lectures, students participate in weekly discussion groups and have individual sessions with meditation instructors. The course includes consistent daily meditation. Evaluation methods include both midterm and final oral exams.


A Bachelor of Arts degree (120 credits) consists of a Core Curriculum (24 credits) and at least one major, as well as minors and/or elective courses of the student’s choosing. 

The Religious Studies Major consists of 37 credit hours. Please consult with your academic advisor to plan your schedule for the program.

Religious Studies Major Requirements

  • REL-150 Buddhist Journey of Transformation: An Introduction(3)

  • REL-210 Religion and Mystical Experience(3)

  • REL-210 Religion and Mystical Experience(3)

  • REL-351 Theories of Alternative Spiritualities and New Religious Movements(3)

Religious Traditions Courses: Choose 9 credits

  • REL-229 Contemplative Judaism(3)

  • REL-240 Integrating One’s Inner and Outer World through the Buddhist Science of Mind(3)

  • REL-314 Contemplative Islam: An Introduction to Its History, Thought, and Practice(3)

  • REL-321 Kabbalah and Consciousness(3)

  • REL-323 Religious Experience in Africa: Flash of the Spirit(3)

  • REL-325 Contemplative Christianity(3)

  • REL-334 Hindu Tantra(3)

  • REL-338 Sufism: an Introduction to Its History, Thought, and Practice(3)

  • REL-345 Zen Buddhism(3)

  • REL-346 Wisdom & Compassion: A Buddhist Path(3)

  • REL-355 Introductory Sanskrit: Language of the Gods(3)

  • TRA-453 Yoga History, Theory, and Philosophy(3)

Contemporary Issues in Religion Courses: Choose 6 credits

  • REL-190 Special Topics in

  • Religious Studies: Mindfulness Compassion Training(1)

  • REL-212 Queer Theory and Religion(3)

  • PAX-335 Socially Engaged Spirituality(3)

Contemplative Practice Courses: Choose 9 credits

  • REL-158W Breeze of Simplicity: Meditation Weekend(1)

  • REL-160 Meditation Practicum I: Freeing the Mind(3)

  • REL-250 Spirituality and Creative Expression(3)

  • REL-255W Opening the Heart: Meditation Weekend(1)

  • REL-271 Christian Prayer and Mystical Practices(3)

  • REL-345 Zen Buddhism(3)

  • TRA-133 Yoga I: Foundations(3)

  • TRA-463 Yoga Meditation(3)


  • COR-440 Capstone II(3)

  • REL-485 BA Wisdom Traditions Retreat(1)

Why Choose Naropa?

Scholar - Practitioner Faculty

At Naropa, you’ll learn from authors and scholars who have contributed widely to the field of religious studies. You’ll study with lineage holders—rabbis, yogis, ministers, and priests—who fully embody the teachings of their belief systems.

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Unique Approach

Naropa is the only school in the West with a mission based on mindfulness and contemplative learning. With our religious studies program, you’ll explore religious traditions from Christianity to Sufism, experience contemplative practices from around the world, and examine the role of religion in contemporary culture.

Diversity Focus

Naropa’s commitment to diversity extends to our curriculum. Not only will you learn about many different religious traditions and their communities, but also about differences and cultural contexts within and across them.

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How this Program Prepares You

Knowledge of Religious Traditions

Students showcase a comprehensive understanding of religious traditions, delving into aspects such as historical context, specialized terminology, and theoretical concepts, and employing critical analysis to deepen their engagement with the subject matter.

Contemplative Practice

Students actively participate in and demonstrate their commitment to contemplative practices, engaging in a variety of reflective activities. Through their involvement, they express a deep connection with these practices, fostering a deeper understanding and integration of contemplation into their personal and academic lives.

Diverse Courses, Varied Careers

Your religious studies degree will include a diversity of courses as rich and varied as jobs for religious studies graduates. Our students read, write, create, and dialogue their way to careers as entrepreneurs, journalists, nonprofit professionals, social workers, and more.

What You'll Learn

Knowledge of self

Dive deep into self-inquiry through our contemplative, Buddhist-inspired approach.

Diversity of Knowledge

Understand and appreciate diverse cultures and beliefs.

Community Involvement

Bring your most authentic selves to meaningful work.

Collaborative Learning

Become skilled at solving problems in a community of peers.

Transferable Skills

Gain valuable communication and problem-solving skills.

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Career Opportunities with a Religious Studies Degree

Many graduates of Naropa’s BA in Religious Studies program enter careers in writing, translating, and teaching, while many others go on to pursue advanced degrees in a range of fields.

Hear from a Graduate

The unique approaches I take to business are positively disruptive within my career field. I hope that my impact will continue to affect further positive change in my industry. I often find myself amazed and inspired by the way business-as-usual companies are leaning towards themes like authenticity, diversity, and civic engagement as unique value propositions—precisely the areas Naropa excels in teaching.

Ina Sajovich

FAQs About the
Religious Studies Degree

A Religious Studies degree is an academic program that explores the beliefs, practices, histories, and cultural impact of various religious traditions. In this program, students explore various religious traditions, study the influence of religion in society, and delve into the history of different faiths.
With a Religious Studies degree, you can enter careers in translating, teaching, writing, and many other advanced degrees in a range of fields.
A Religious Studies degree provides diverse knowledge of world religions, critical thinking skills, cultural awareness, introspective work, lifelong learning, and versatile career paths.

Naropa is the only school in the West with a mission based on mindfulness and contemplative learning. Naropa is uniquely equipped to prepare your intellect and your spirit for a meaningful future. Naropa’s Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies equips you with the in-depth knowledge and interpersonal skills necessary for a meaningful and rewarding career. 
Naropa is the first accredited university to bring contemplative education to the West, putting mindfulness at the heart of every pursuit we engage in. At Naropa, not only do we pursue academic excellence for our students and faculty alike, but we also foster community, self-reflection, and purposeful education to drive change in the world.

The difference between Theology and Religious Studies lies in their respective emphases: Theology focuses on god and spiritual realities as its subject matter whereas religious studies explore major world religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism.

Learn More About the Program

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with your counselor

Rachel Thompson

Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions 

Prospective students with last names A-G

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with your counselor

Jenna Priest

Undergraduate Admissions Counselor

Prospective students last names H-Z

Ready to Apply?

Admission Requirements

Naropa University’s unique approach values both academic excellence and the willingness to carry out introspective work. 

Learn more about admission requirements and our application process.

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  • Students with a 3.0 GPA or Higher

Applicants with excellent academic performance are welcome with minimal requirements.

  • Students with Less than 3.0 GPA

If your academic record hasn’t been the strongest, but you wish to apply to Naropa, we strongly encourage you to submit your application. Contemplative practice matters to us just as much as academic excellence.

  • Transfer your college credit

We allow you to transfer 60 or more credits from previous institutions. Present an official college transcript on top of your application to apply as a transfer student.

Discover all requirements for first-time and transfer students at our admission requirements page.

No matter where you’re from or how far you’ve traveled, you can feel at home at Naropa. Our university is built on a foundation of inclusion, diversity, and welcoming other cultures with open arms. The more diverse our student body, the stronger we are. We value your future contributions to our dynamic community.
Learn more about applying to Naropa from abroad.

Costs and Financial Aid

At Naropa, we aim to enhance educational accessibility for a diverse student population. Explore our undergraduate costs & aids page to learn about tuition, grants, scholarships, and opportunities for financial assistance. Use our cost calculator to estimate your potential expenses at Naropa.

Undergraduate Scholarship Opportunities

Scholarships are a great way to help with the costs of going to school. Naropa University offers an array of scholarship opportunities to undergraduate students. Students may be eligible to receive scholarships through their admissions application, by applying for scholarships, or by being nominated for a scholarship. For more detailed information about the different scholarships available and how to receive them, please review our undergraduate scholarship page.
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Naropa Campuses Closed on Friday, March 15, 2024

Due to adverse weather conditions, all Naropa campuses will be closed Friday, March 15, 2024.  All classes that require a physical presence on campus will be canceled. All online and low-residency programs are to meet as scheduled.

Based on the current weather forecast, the Healing with the Ancestors Talk & Breeze of Simplicity program scheduled for Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday will be held as planned.

Staff that do not work remotely or are scheduled to work on campus, can work remotely. Staff that routinely work remotely are expected to continue to do so.

As a reminder, notifications will be sent by e-mail and the LiveSafe app.  

Regardless of Naropa University’s decision, if you ever believe the weather conditions are unsafe, please contact your supervisor and professors.  Naropa University trusts you to make thoughtful and wise decisions based on the conditions and situation in which you find yourself in.