Humanities Indicators

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences have led data collection and discussion in the humanities for many years through their Humanities Indicators project. Researchers at the American Academy have compiled relevant statistics from two surveys for scholars of religion: "Humanities in American Life: Insights for Religious Studies" and “Humanities Department Survey-Religion.”

The American Academy also collaborated with AAR to unpack and contextualize these data relating to religious studies.

A Deeper Look at Trends in Undergraduate and Graduate Religion Enrollments and Degree Completions” summarizes recent trends in religion majors and enrollments at the undergraduate and graduate level, noting observable differences by institutional mission and sector. Although the trend differs across institution types, there have been steep declines in the proportion of college students earning degrees in religion in the last ten years, across bachelors, masters, and doctorate levels. There has been some growth, particularly at masters and comprehensive institutions, but overall the downward trajectory for student majors is pronounced and is mostly similar to trends in other humanities fields.

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences Humanities Indicators project was made possible with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Humanities Indicators is a database of comprehensive statistical information about the humanities in the United States, providing researchers and policy-makers in the private and public sectors with better tools to answer basic questions about areas of concern in the humanities.

The American Academy’s Humanities Indicators (HI) developed and has fielded three rounds of the Humanities Department Survey (HDS 1/2/3, with data collected for years 2007, 2012, and 2017 (PDF)) to provide a fuller picture of the field and supply the data necessary for a more substantive conversation about the humanities in four-year colleges and universities.

The Humanities in American Life survey asked a representative sample of 5,015 American adults, age 18 and above (in a sample drawn from NORC at the University of Chicago’s AmeriSpeak panel) how often they engage in different humanities activities and what they believe the humanities contribute to the American experience. You can read more in the full study: “The Humanities in American Life: A Survey of the Public’s Attitudes and Engagement.”