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Mayrl, Damon & Uecker, Jeremy E. (2011). Higher Education and Religious Liberalization among Young Adults. Social Forces, 90(1), 181-208. PMCID: PMC3365855


Going to college has long been assumed to liberalize students' religious beliefs. Using longitudinal data from the National Study of Youth and Religion, we compare change in the content of religious beliefs of those who do and do not attend college. We find that, in general, college students are no more likely to develop liberal religious beliefs than nonstudents. In some cases, collegians actually appear more likely to retain their initial beliefs. Change in religious beliefs appears instead to be more strongly associated with network effects. These findings indicate that college's effect on students' religious beliefs is both weak and fragmented, and suggest that the multiplicity of social worlds on college campuses may help to sustain religious beliefs as well as religious practice and commitment.

Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Social Forces


Mayrl, Damon
Uecker, Jeremy E.