Earning religious studies scholarships can help lower the college expenses for studying the role of religion in human life and culture.
Religious studies programs are available at every degree level to examine the worship traditions for various denominations. Whether you’re Methodist, Jewish, Muslim, Lutheran, or Anglican, religious studies can lay the foundation for faithful vocations.
Most churches require holding a Master of Divinity degree before becoming ordained. Those who pursue Catholic priesthood are particularly in-demand since the U.S. faces critical shortages with a priest-parishioner ratio of 1:652.
Other career options include pastoral counselor, Bible teacher, missionary, charity director, religion news-writer, youth minister, and archivist. Answer God’s calling to serve His followers by applying for these scholarships in religious studies.
Ranking the Top Scholarships for Religious Studies Available
1. AGBU Religious Studies Fellowship
Deadline: May 31st
The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) awards a Religious Studies Fellowship for up to $5,000 to graduate students of Armenian heritage who are pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees in religious studies, theology, divinity, or ministry. Eligible applicants must be enrolled full-time at selective universities or seminaries worldwide, live outside of Armenia, maintain a cumulative GPA above 3.0, and exhibit financial need. Fellowships are renewable for a maximum of three years.
AGBU Religious Studies Fellowship
55 East 59th Street 7th Floor
New York, NY 10022
2. Bishop Lance Webb Scholarship
Deadline: March 15th
For $1,500, the Bishop Lance Webb Scholarship is presented by the Iowa United Methodist Foundation (IUMF) to full-time college juniors or seniors who plan to attend an ATS-accredited theological school or seminary for graduate degrees in religious studies. Qualified recipients must be U.S. citizens, currently hold a “B” average or better, demonstrate financial need, and have a vocational calling for United Methodist ministry. Submitting two recommendations from ordained pastors is required.
Bishop Lance Webb Scholarship
2301 Rittenhouse Street
Des Moines, IA 50321
3. Charles B. Keesee Educational Scholarships
Deadline: April 1st
Ranging from $2,000 to $8,000 per year, the Charles B. Keesee Educational Scholarships are granted to members of the Baptist Church who are earning master’s or doctoral degrees in religious studies at participating seminaries. Acceptable majors would include Christian education, church music, Islamic studies, missiology, and youth ministry. Eligible candidates must be U.S. citizens who reside in Virginia, North Carolina, or South Carolina and plan to pursue Baptist religious work.
Charles B. Keesee Educational Scholarships
P.O. Box 431
Martinsville, VA 24114
4. David H.C. Read Preacher/Scholar Award
Deadline: January 31st
Named in honor of the late Chaplain to Her Majesty in Scotland, the David H.C. Read Preacher/Scholar Award gifts $20,000 from the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church each year. To qualify, applicants must be entering their final year of a Master of Divinity program at ATS-accredited theological schools across the United States and committed to entering Protestant parish ministry upon graduation. Three religious studies runners-up will receive $1,000.
David H.C. Read Preacher/Scholar Award
921 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10021
5. Dr. Chester A. McPheeters Scholarship
Deadline: March 1st
Created by the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation (UMHEF), the Dr. Chester A. McPheeters Scholarship awards $1,000 to graduating high school seniors who are pursuing post-secondary education to prepare for the ministry or full-time religious vocations. Eligible religious studies majors must be active United Methodist members for 12 months, have U.S. citizenship or permanent residency, possess a minimum 2.5 GPA, enroll full-time in an accredited college, and work part-time where possible.
Dr. Chester A. McPheeters Scholarship
P.O. Box 340005
Nashville, TN 37203
6. Father McGivney Vocations Scholarships
Deadline: June 1st
Annually, the Knights of Columbus distributes 40 Father McGivney Vocations Scholarships for $2,500 apiece to male students who are enrolled full-time the first four years of religious studies at an ATS-accredited theology school to prepare for the Roman Catholic priesthood. Preference is given to financially needy students who are members or descents of the KofC. Applications must include academic transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a short essay, and the diocesan vocations director’s signature.
Father McGivney Vocations Scholarships
1 Columbus Plaza
New Haven, CT 06510
7. GuideOne Foundation Scholarships
Deadline: April 15th
As America’s leading insurer of churches, the GuideOne Foundation provides four $2,500 religious studies scholarships annually to benefit tomorrow’s church leaders who are actively pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees for ministry. Qualified applicants must attend accredited seminaries in the United States or District of Columbia, carry a minimum overall GPA of 3.25, submit one letter of recommendation, and write a 350-word essay explaining why they’ve chosen religious vocations.
GuideOne Foundation Scholarships
1111 Ashworth Road
West Des Moines, IA 50265
8. Harvesters Scholarship Foundation
Deadline: May 31st
The Harvesters Scholarship Foundation offers need-based financial aid to undergraduate or graduate students in the United States and Canada who have declared religious studies majors to serve the Evangelical Christian faith. Eligibility criteria requires being enrolled full-time, holding a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better, having combined family income below $60,000 per year, and responding to one’s calling of becoming a missionary. Applications are incomplete without a 1,000-word personal statement, resume, transcript, and three references.
Harvesters Scholarship Foundation
7252 Berry Creek Street
Eastvale, CA 92880
9. Hindu Temple Educational Scholarship
Deadline: May 31st
Funded by the International Geeta Gurukul Foundation, the Hindu Temple Educational Scholarship is bestowed for $1,000 annually upon a graduating high school senior planning to enroll full-time at an accredited four-year college in the United States. Interested religious studies majors must be active Hindu Temple members, exhibit academic merit with a minimum 3.0 GPA, have leadership potential, submit two recommendation letters, and show career goals within the Hindu religion.
Hindu Temple Educational Scholarship
44955 Cherry Hill Road
Canton, MI 48188
10. Irene Drinkall Franke Scholarship
Deadline: February 15th
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America selects laywomen annually to receive the $1,000 Irene Drinkall Franke Scholarship to financially support their religious studies and professional preparation for Christian service occupations. To apply, female students must hold ELCA membership, be U.S. citizens, attend accredited universities, be at least 21 years old, have experienced a two-year or longer interruption in education, and submit a pastor reference form.
Irene Drinkall Franke Scholarship
8765 West Higgins Road
Chicago, IL 60631
(800) 638-3522 ext. 2741
11. Juliette M. Atherton Scholarship
Deadline: February 22nd
Administered by the Hawaii Community Foundation, the Juliette M. Atherton Scholarship will present $3,000 to $5,000 annually to students attending non-profit, accredited theological schools within the United States for religious studies leading to Protestant Christian careers. Eligible awardees must be Hawaii residents, enroll full-time, achieve a minimum overall GPA of 2.7, be active Protestant congregation members, and have unmet financial need. Some funding is reserved for sons and daughters of ordained Protestant ministers.
Juliette M. Atherton Scholarship
827 Fort Street Mal
Honolulu, HI 96813
12. Justin Haruyama Scholarship Program
Deadline: May 31st
Since 1981, the Japanese American United Church in New York City has hosted the Justin Haruyama Scholarship Program annually to support students of Japanese heritage who pursue religious studies for a Master of Divinity at accredited Protestant seminaries in the U.S. Eligible applicants must be studying full-time, hold a minimum 3.0 GPA, intend to become ordained pastors or missionaries, be committed to serving Japanese-American congregations, and write a 500-word essay about their spiritual journey.
Justin Haruyama Scholarship Program
255 7th Avenue
New York, NY 10001
13. Katherine J. Schutze Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: March 15th
In remembrance of a passionate, ordained missionary who taught Hispanic children in Texas, the Katherine J. Schutze Memorial Scholarship is rewarded for $2,000 by Disciples Home Missions yearly. Eligible women must be enrolled full-time at ATS-accredited seminaries, pursue a Master of Divinity or relevant religious studies, be active Disciples of Christ members, reside in the United States or Canada, have unmet financial need, and prepare for ordained ministry in the Christian Church.
Katherine J. Schutze Memorial Scholarship
P.O. Box 1986
Indianapolis, IN 46206
14. Mary E. Bivins Religious Studies Scholarships
Deadline: January 29th
The Mary E. Bivins Religious Studies Scholarships bestow $2,500 for undergraduate juniors or seniors and $3,500 for graduate students who are seeking an accredited degree that leads to ministerial professions preaching the Christian religion. Interested applicants must reside in the Texas Panhandle’s 26 counties for 12 months, have U.S. citizenship, take at least 12 credits per semester, maintain a cumulative GPA beyond 2.75, and participate in an in-person interview.
Mary E. Bivins Religious Studies Scholarships
2311 West 16th Avenue
Amarillo, TX 79102
15. Nathan J. and Virginia H. Friedman Scholarship
Deadline: November 1st
Funded by the Jewish Community Federation, the Nathan J. and Virginia H. Friedman Scholarship distributes $1,500 to $5,000 annually is available for Jewish undergraduates undertaking religious studies, especially Judaic studies, at accredited, non-profit U.S. universities. Applicants must permanently reside in California’s San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, or Alameda counties, but may study anywhere. Selection is based on academic merit, financial need, Jewish community involvement, and leadership ability.
Nathan J. and Virginia H. Friedman Scholarship
121 Steuart Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
16. Native American Seminary Scholarship
Deadline: March 1st
Offering up to $10,000 per year, the Native American Seminary Scholarship is granted by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) to tribal members of Native American or Alaska Native heritage who are completing religious studies at an approved U.S. seminary. Eligible candidates must be United Methodist Church members for 3+ years, maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA, and plan a career in ordained ministry. Other funding includes the Richard S. Smith and Rosalie Bentzinger Scholarships.
Native American Seminary Scholarship
1001 19th Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37212
17. Roy H. Pollack Scholarship Program
Deadline: April 15th
Established in 1998, the Roy H. Pollack Scholarship Program is administered by the United Universalist Association (UAA) for gifting $1,500 to second- or third-year graduate students who are earning a Master of Divinity degree to become Unitarian Universalist ministers. Promising candidates must enroll at least half-time, attend an ATS-accredited seminary, possess strong academic records, be U.S. or Canadian citizens, and exhibit outstanding ministerial ability. Preference is given to racial minority students of color.
Roy H. Pollack Scholarship Program
24 Farnsworth Street
Boston, MA 02210
18. Russell Berrie Fellowships in Interreligious Studies
Deadline: March 11th
Through the Institute for International Education (IIE), the Russell Berrie Fellowships in Interreligious Studies cover full-tuition and provide modest living stipends to 10 excellent fellows studying abroad at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, Italy. Graduate students from Bangladesh, Canada, Hungary, Indonesia, Nigeria, Philippines, Ukraine, United States, and Zimbabwe may apply. Having at least a Bachelor of Arts and sufficient knowledge of Italian is mandatory.
Russell Berrie Fellowships in Interreligious Studies
25 East Washington Street
Chicago, IL 60602
19. Stewards Ministries Graduate Scholarships
Stewards Ministries offers $2,000 Graduate Scholarships for students enrolled full-time in master’s or doctoral religious studies at ATS-accredited theological schools in the United States or Canada to become ministers of Christian Brethren assemblies. After being nominated by an Elder, exceptional candidates must sign an agreement to devote two years full-time to assembly-related ministry upon graduation. One annual scholarship is reserved for students attending Emmaus Bible College.
Stewards Ministries Graduate Scholarships
1101 Perimeter Drive Suite 600
Schaumburg, IL 60173
20. William R. Johnson Scholarship Fund
Deadline: March 1st
Supported by the United Church of Christ since 1999, the William R. Johnson Scholarship Fund distributes $2,500 scholarships to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students completing religious studies at ATS-accredited seminaries for ordained ministry. Recipients must be open about their sexual orientation, have belonged to UCC congregations for 12+ months, maintain a minimum “B” average, demonstrate church leadership, have completed their first seminary year, and be members in discernment.
William R. Johnson Scholarship Fund
700 Prospect Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44115
Money likely isn’t a motivator for following your vocational calling into faith-based professions, but it’s important to consider. College tuition can be extremely difficult to afford on modest ministry salaries. According to the BLS, religious organizations pay clergy an average yearly income of $46,420. Minimizing your student loan debt post-graduation with free scholarships is essential to keep your Church-related endeavors afloat.
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