Religious Studies

Religious Studies // Bachelor of Arts

"Naropa ... provides the best foundation from which to pursue both a career in religious studies, and a life."
James P.
Naropa student


Find more information about Religious Studies programs at Naropa

The Religious Studies bachelor's degree at Naropa University provides an inspiring and thorough course of study that explores religious phenomena across traditions with a particular emphasis on their contemplative dimensions.

We offer a unique educational experience that integrates academic excellence with contemplative methods of learning. We embrace a whole-person approach that will deepen your understanding of yourself while developing the skills you need to make authentic and meaningful contributions to our world.

Given Naropa’s unique position as the foremost Buddhist-inspired university in the United States (please note that Religious Studies students require no religious background or belief structure), you will have the opportunity to become especially knowledgeable about the history and meditative practices of different forms of Buddhism. You will also have a wide range of options to study and experience the mystical practices of Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism.

After Naropa

Naropa's Religious Studies graduates go on to pursue graduate school in a range of fields, including law, social work and religious or theological studies. Others enter careers as writers, translators, teachers, nonprofit administrators, and socially conscious entrepreneurs. Careers of Religious Studies Program Graduates

What Makes us Different?

Our program draws its methods from the academic discipline of the history of religions as well as from cutting-edge technologies of Contemplative Education that have been developed at Naropa over the past 40 years. We are committed to presenting traditions from perspectives that are sympathetic to the living religious communities themselves, which is an approach that honors the distinctive place that contemplative traditions and practices hold within the world's great religions. 

Our classes are small and interactive (typically well below 20 students), which provides a rich environment of close interaction between students and instructors. At Naropa, we emphasize the synthesis of traditional modes of academic study with contemplative and experiential inquiry. We represent 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..

  • Participate in two group retreats with fellow Religious Studies majors where you will develop friendships, learn about the contemplative practices of different religions and explore career options.
  • Complete a senior thesis on a topic of your choice.

Religious Studies Faculty

Our faculty are internationally renowned scholars, translators and practitioners who challenge and inspire students in an intense yet 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, Christian Ministers as well as Taoist, Zen and Catholic Priests).

Our 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. Dedicated to academic excellence and innovation in contemplative pedagogy, Naropa University has a notable history of hiring rising scholars and providing a home for progressive thinkers. Across multiple areas — experience, interest, ethnicity, or gender — the faculty is diverse, ensuring exposure to broad perspectives. Our faculty are committed to cultivating an environment of intellectual inquiry and personal discovery that will provide you with a uniquely rewarding educational experience. Meet Religious Studies Faculty

Minors: Religious Studies, Sanskrit or Tibetan language

Duration: The Religious Studies degree program is 36-credit major offered in the context of Naropa's contemplative liberal arts core curriculum.