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Religion and Higher Education: Current Knowledge and Directions for Future Research


Correspondence should be addressed to Damon Mayrl, Department of Sociology, University of California at Berkeley, CA 94720. E-mail:


In light of increased scholarly and public discussion about the proper position of religion in higher education, we take stock of existing social scientific studies to illuminate what we know—and what we don't know—about religion and higher education. We argue that research shows that college students are more religiously engaged than has traditionally been thought, but that this interest appears to be more broad than deep; that the college experience does not lead to apostasy in most students, though its effect on students' religious engagements is still unclear; and that religion has a beneficial effect on some student outcomes, but not on others. We conclude by proposing three new directions for research that offer the potential to expand our understanding of the interaction of religion and higher education.