Profile of Religion Departments (HDS 3)
Findings and Trends
- Among religion departments that were granting degrees in 2007, total enrollment in undergraduate courses was 234,760 in fall 2017 (with an average enrollment of 472.4 per department).2
- On average, religion departments awarded 12.1 bachelor’s degrees per department in the 2016–17 academic year. Students also completed an average of 13.5 minors per department.
- Total enrollment in graduate-level religion courses was 46,360 in fall 2017 (with an average enrollment of 93.3 per department). The average number of students pursuing an advanced degree in religion was 40.1 per department that granted such degrees.
- Religion departments employed 4,630 full- and part-time faculty members in fall 2017, with an average of 9.3 faculty members per department. Seventy-one percent of these faculty were either tenured or on the tenure track. Twenty-two percent of faculty in the discipline were employed part-time.
- Thirty-three percent of religion departments hired a new permanent faculty member for the start of the 2017–18 academic year, and 43% of the departments had a faculty member come up for tenure in the previous two years.
- Women constituted 35% of the faculty members in religion departments in fall 2017, one of the smallest shares among disciplines included in the survey. Thirty-two percent of tenured faculty members were women, compared to 46% of faculty members on the tenure track and 34% of those off the tenure track.
- While 98% of religion departments provided research support for their full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty members and 84% offered such support for full-time nontenured or non-tenure-track faculty, only 35% offered such support for part-time faculty.
Supporting Student Careers
- Forty-eight percent of religion departments rated the career services at their college or university “good” or “very good” for their students, while only 2% rated the services “poor.”
- A relatively large percentage of religion departments had faculty teaching courses in a professional school at their institution, with 17% of religion departments reporting that kind of arrangement (compared to 12% of departments for all the disciplines included in the survey combined).
- Religion stands out for the substantial share of departments that required (versus merely offered) certain occupationally oriented activities for their doctoral students. An estimated 40% of the departments with doctoral programs required attendance at presentations and workshops (compared to 8% for all disciplines considered together), and 40% required participation in occupationally oriented presentations (as opposed to 4%). No religion departments required internships of doctoral students, however, and only 11% of departments offered these (compared to 40% of departments for the field as a whole).
Engaging the Digital
- Twenty-four percent of religion departments had one or more faculty members specializing in the digital humanities, but only 13% offered a seminar on digital methods for research and teaching.
- 2Students who enrolled in more than one course in the discipline are counted in each course in which they enrolled. The same is true for the graduate course enrollment values given below. Medians for all “per department” quantities mentioned in this section are available in the corresponding data tables (please see the Appendix, Part B).