10 of the Most Improved Universities for Theology, Divinity & Religious Studies in 2018 | Top Universities

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10 of the Most Improved Universities for Theology, Divinity & Religious Studies in 2018

By Craig O

Updated December 30, 2021 Updated December 30, 2021

Discover the top theology, divinity and religious studies schools based on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020.

Launched last year, the theology, divinity & religious studies ranking is the fastest way to find out which universities are the best in the world for this subject. One of 48 academic disciplines to be featured in this year’s QS World University Rankings by Subject, theology degrees can lead to jobs in teaching, social work, non-profits and (of course) religion.

Below, you’ll find the top 10 universities for theology this year, but before then we’ll explore the most improved institutions within this year’s top 50. If you want to view the full ranking table, click here.

Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

Our first top university for theology which has improved this year is Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, based in North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. Otherwise known as the University of Münster, this public institution has climbed to 44th, having been ranked 51-100.

This rise, which is at least seven places, means it’s the fifth best university in Germany for studying theology. The university’s evangelical theological faculty is one of the largest training centers focused on Protestant theology in Germany.

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Next on our list is another German institution, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. This Munich-based institution is up nine places this year to 32nd, although it continues to struggle to score highly for employer reputation (it’s ranked 88th for this particular indicator).

The university has faculties of both Catholic and Protestant theology. The Catholic faculty teaching is split into five sections (biblical, historical, systematic, and practical theology as well as study and research units). The Protestant faculty is responsible for training Lutheran priests and religious teachers, as well as interdisciplinary fields such as medical ethics and cultural history.

University of Notre Dame

Also up nine places this year, the University of Notre Dame is now ranked seventh in the world. Scoring a perfect 100 for H-index citations, the US university is now the third best institution for theology in the US.

Notre Dame’s theology department focuses its teaching and thinking on six areas in particular: moral theology, world religions and world church, the history of Christianity, liturgy, biblical studies, and systematic theology.

University of Sydney

Having only scraped into the top 50 last year, the University of Sydney is now up 12 places to be ranked 37th. The Australian university scores particularly highly for its reputation with employers and is the second-best institution in Australia overall for theology.

Sydney’s Department of Studies in Religion is part of the arts and social sciences faculty. The undergraduate program touches on sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, philosophy, textual studies and history, each with the intention of analyzing the ways people explain their existence.

University of Birmingham

The first British university to be included in this list of most improved top universities for theology, the University of Birmingham has climbed 12 places to 23rd this year.

Home to students from over 20 countries, Birmingham’s department of theology and religion covers a broad spectrum of religions. Undergraduate degrees available touch on philosophy, politics and ethics in addition to religion and theology. It’s also possible to study a joint honors degree in history and theology. Master’s programs focus on topics such as Islamic studies and Holocaust and genocide.

University of British Columbia

Having previously been ranked 51-100, the University of British Columbia has climbed at least 12 places to 39th in the world for theology this year. One of seven Canadian institutions to be ranked this year, the University of British Columbia is also home to the Vancouver School of Theology.

Intended to educate and form Christian leaders, the Vancouver School of Theology offers graduate study in ministry programs as well as theological research degrees. The school does also offer teaching in divinity, inter-religious studies and other areas.

International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)

The International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) is the first institution in this list of most improved universities for theology to be explicitly non-Christian in its teaching focus. IIUM has climbed an astonishing 15 places this year, to now be ranked 31st in the world.

Teaching at IIUM in theology focuses on Islamic teachings and thought, and so many degrees feature this prominently (the Doctor of Philosophy in Islamic Thought and Civilization, for example). Some programs are taught in Arabic and students will need to show evidence of proficiency when applying.

Aarhus University

Previously ranked 51-100, Aarhus University is now considered to be the 29th best university for theology in the world, a vast improvement which also means it’s the best university in Denmark for this subject.

Aarhus provides you with one of the largest research environments for theological study, and the university’s strong research focus is reflected in how highly it scores for citations per paper in our ranking. Theology degree programs are available at both bachelor’s and master’s level, while a joint Nordic master’s is available in the Religious Roots of Europe.

Columbia University

The penultimate university we’re looking at in detail is Columbia University, which has climbed from joint 46th to 21st this year. Despite this climb, eight other American universities continue to be ranked higher than Columbia.

As well as the university’s department of religion, Columbia is also home to a theological seminary which aims to prepare students for ministry. If you’re focus is more academic, the undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in the university itself is likely to be of more interest. Students interested in applying for the master’s program must submit their GRE scores, but there is no subject-specific entrance test.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)

Our final university to have shown great improvement in this year’s theology ranking is the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), which didn’t feature at all in last year’s inaugural ranking. Now considered the 47th best place in the world to study theology, CUHK is the only institution from Hong Kong in this year’s ranking.

Theology degrees are offered by the university’s Divinity School of Chung Chi College, and have been since 1957. Bachelor’s degrees are available in both theology and divinity, while the range of postgraduate study options includes degrees in theological studies, Christian studies and ministry.

This year’s top 10 universities for theology, divinity & religious studies are:

Top 10 Universities for Theology, Divinity & Religious Studies, Based on QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018


Name of institution



Harvard University

United States


University of Oxford

United Kingdom


Durham University

United Kingdom


University of Cambridge

United Kingdom


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The Netherlands


Boston College

United States


University of Notre Dame

United States


KU Leuven



University of Toronto



University of Chicago

United States

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This article was originally published in March 2018 . It was last updated in December 2021

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Written by

As Head of Content, Craig is responsible for all articles and guides published across TopUniversities and TopMBA. He has nearly 10 years of experience writing for a student audience and extensive knowledge of universities and study programs around the world.

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