Faith-Based Colleges

A fulfilling spiritual life can be part of your campus experience.

Faith-based colleges - finding a spiritual life at college. Opportunities for spiritual growth abound for college students For many students, selecting the right college is about more than examining programs and looking at residence halls. Many students want a college or university that will also enrich them spiritually.

“We’re concerned about the entire student, and we challenge them to grow spiritually, morally, and ethically,” says David A. Collins, assistant vice president for admissions at Saint Vincent College, a Catholic university in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. “Our president says we want our students to get into heaven.”

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that there are more than 1,200 faith-based schools of higher education.

You should be aware that there are different types of faith-based colleges:

  • Schools with religious origins: such as a university that was founded by a certain religious group in the 1800s, but where religion is not a big part of campus life today.
  • Traditional evangelical schools: including those affiliated with the Southern Baptist, Mennonite, and Reformed denominations.
  • Non-evangelical faith-based colleges: including Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, and Jewish institutions.

The opportunities for spiritual growth vary from school to school—as do the requirements for participation. At some schools, religious services and classes are simply offered and the students may participate if they wish; at other schools, participation is required or at least expected.

When attending a faith-based college that offers many opportunities for spiritual life, you can expect many students of that faith to be enrolled—but not all your classmates will be of that particular religion. For instance, at Saint Vincent College, 62 percent of the student body is Catholic. “We also have a full-time Protestant minister on staff in our campus ministry office and a Rabbi that does workshops for students,” Collins reports.

A campus ministry office is found at the majority of colleges and universities, not just faith-based schools. It’s an excellent place to visit when making a college tour, or to call for information about spiritual growth opportunities for people of your faith on campus. You’ll find that organizations such as Jewish Student Association, Newman Catholic Club, The Navigators (Christian outreach), and others are quite popular at campuses across the country, and the campus ministry office can tell you which ones are active at that school.

Also, ask the campus ministry office about religious services held on campus or nearby. Often, local congregations welcome students, and even provide transportation to services.


This article was written by Jane Schreier Jones

Jane Schreier Jones is a freelance writer whose work includes hundreds of articles in the field of education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English/journalism from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

1 Comment

  1. Judy

    Hi Jane. We are writing an article about our research on the motivators and deterrents for faculty in a faith-based school to integrate service-learning. We would like to know the percentage of faith-based vs non-faith-based schools in the US… You indicate that there are 1200 faith-based schools. I checked out the National Center for Education Statistics wedsite and could not find this information, nor any percentages… Can you help? Thanks so much. Judy Hutchinson, Ph.D. Azusa Pacific University.

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