I am wondering if private religious universities consider hiring faculty members who are clearly not affiliated with said religion. For example, someone who is clearly Muslim applying to a Jesuit university for a tenure track position. Is it a waste of time for the very obviously Muslim candidate in this example to submit an application?

  • 2
    It depends a lot on the private religious university and (the particular branch of) the religion involved. Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 0:12
  • 5
    I know Jewish faculty at a Jesuit university in the US.
    – Thomas
    Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 0:44
  • 2
    A really big and prominent Catholic health system in the U.S. has a Protestant president.
    – Bob Brown
    Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 1:40
  • @JustinLardinois: That case was a bit different. AFAIK it was already well established that religious institutions could restrict their hiring based on religion, for all types of positions. When hiring ministers, they have even more freedom to hire and fire as they wish, and many standard labor laws don't apply at all. In that case, a school fired a teacher, not due to her religion, but supposedly due to her disability. This would be illegal for most employees, even at a religious employer. But the school said she was a "minister", and SCOTUS said this was valid. Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 16:21

3 Answers 3


You should check the particular university in question. They will usually make it pretty clear in their job postings and/or application process.

Some will say explicitly "We welcome applications from all candidates regardless of faith", or "We do not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, ..., religion, ...". The Jesuit institutions with which I'm familiar are of this kind.

If they say that, it's likely that they mean it. They'd have no particular desire to get applications from candidates that they don't intend to consider; it would just be more work for them. If they did want to discriminate on the basis of religion, they wouldn't have to hide it, since it's perfectly legal under US law for religious institutions to do so.

You might still be asked to demonstrate that you share their values, even if you don't share their religion, and that you will be comfortable working in that environment. You might look up the university's mission statement (they pretty much all have one) and see if it's something you can get behind.

Conversely, universities that only accept applicants of a particular religion will typically signal this in the job posting. (Again, they want to avoid wasting your time or theirs.) A common way is to require a "statement of faith" as part of the application, in which the applicant is expected to demonstrate adherence to the appropriate religion. I recall another posting that asked the applicant to state their religion, "for instance, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, ..." - their list only included denominations of Christianity, making it pretty clear that non-Christians need not apply.

You might also find this explained on a generic "about the university" page on their website.

  • @layman: No, I don't. (And there are at least three or four universities named "Loyola".) But I'll be surprised if a few minutes of searching doesn't turn up an answer. Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 16:14

In the US, yes, it is pretty common. I think a Jesuit institution especially would welcome diversity. Most, but not all of the students are likely to be co-religionists at religious colleges, but not necessarily the faculty.

There are some extremely conservative places that would have exclusive policies, but I think they are in the minority (so to speak).

Back when I knew them, the Jesuits were very open. They have an educational mission in their colleges. You will find just about the same diversity of thought there that you find in secular colleges and universities.


As faculty at a Jesuit institution I can say that religion is not a factor in hiring at my school. I work with Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus that I know of, including some in leadership (department chair) positions. You also don't ask about these specifically, but I also work with gay and transgender faculty, political liberals, political conservatives, and people of every nationality. In short, our university's faculty looks a lot like any other university would, and as far as I can tell people's personal lives do not influence their professional lives here.

I can't speak to the university as a whole, but the hiring process in our department looks the same as my graduate institution and sounds the same as what I hear from colleagues at other schools. Our first goal is to find the most highly qualified people that compliment our current faculty. We primarily evaluate candidate faculty on their research record, their professional history, and their personal statements (generally in that order). We take the pool of applications and come up with a dozen or so phone interview candidates, and then we select three candidates for on-campus interviews.

The only place that religion may play a role in this process is that we are concerned about a candidate's "gettability". We understand that we're not the most highly ranked institution, and when we hire our dean/provost is only willing to pay for three in-person interviews. Thus, we don't want to "waste" these opportunities on candidates that are obviously superstar candidates who are likely to go elsewhere. In that light, we do sometimes get candidates whose personal statement says that they're specifically looking to teach at a Jesuit institution. But, we also get people who say they're specifically looking to teach in our city to be close to family, or because it is their hometown, etc. Whatever the reason, religious or otherwise, people can influence their gettability by saying they have a special reason for wanting to be at our institution.

But with all that said, we don't hire or interview bad candidates just because they're gettable.

Anecdotally, I'm not a Catholic, but I am Protestant and I do like to think of myself as socially and civically minded. I liked the idea of a Jesuit institution that might place more value on the ideas of "doing good in the world" rather than just doing research for the sake of doing research. When I interviewed at my current institution I asked the dean what it meant to work at a Jesuit institution, thinking that it was an opportunity for him to tell me about all the great ways this school would be special. Instead, he immediately started talking about how they don't discriminate in hiring based on religious preference. I now know that he's very proud of the Jesuit heritage, but he apparently must get your question a lot for his mind to go straight there.

In general, in case you're interested, the Jesuit tradition seeks to be different from traditional higher education by focusing on the education of the whole person: intellectual, spiritual, and physical. The faculty are exhorted to practice "care of the whole person" when dealing with students, with emphasis on driving students to a place of fulfillment, and we are encouraged to develop mentoring relationships. Occasionally our faculty development people will use a learning process called Ignatian Pedagogy as a model for developing coursework and curriculum (named after St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order). This is method that focuses on using reflective meditation on past experiences and future goals to determine your next course of action, and while it was developed to enable theological and spiritual growth it is applicable anywhere.

In practice we look more like other universities than different. The biggest difference is our undergraduate core curriculum includes 12 credit hours of theology and philosophy for Bachelors of Science, or 18 hours for Bachelor of Arts students. (At many other universities the requirement in these subjects is usually only 3 or 6 hours total.) There is a required class "Foundations of Christian Theology," which is some history and critical perspective of Christian (heavily Catholic) theology, with the last few weeks being a compare/contrast to other religious perspectives. Of course, if you wanted to get into Christian theology then our university has many more resources than a comparable secular institution as well, up to and including formal training for the priesthood.

We get a few days off in the Spring semester for Easter, and there are a few other days throughout the year where class is not canceled but the administration requires us to excuse student absences for a few special observances. One of the biggest perks in my mind is that the school is very respectful of Christmas, meaning that I'm often done at the university by December 15th-20th and I'm not expected back on campus until January 15th or so. It's really nice to have so much time with the family and with friends over the holidays. At both my graduate and undergraduate institutions I remember things like taking a final exam on December 22nd-23rd, which I absolutely hated.

Our administration is fully staffed by lay people, not officials of the church. We do have some faculty who are ordained priests and part of the Jesuit order, but these faculty are treated as though they were any other faculty when it comes to academic affairs and they take on additional duties voluntarily. As far as I know the church has no official authority over how we operate outside of the Jesuit training programs.

  • Had to vote up, just well written.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Nov 19, 2018 at 7:23

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .