Is It Worth Considering Religiously-Affiliated Colleges at All?
You will come across the term “religiously-affiliated” colleges and universities when you start doing your research for future study in the USA. The first thing that will come to mind when you see it is that all those places are only for religious people who plan to practice or want to study a certain religion or become clerics. It could be true in some cases but not always, of course. Let us look at these types of schools more closely and answer frequently-asked questions you may have.

What are religiously-affiliated colleges and universities? Where did they come from?
Religiously-affiliated colleges and universities are schools that are associated with a certain religion, church or faith.  They first appeared in the 18 – 19th century, the time when different religious associations, communities, and leaders started them as seminaries and university-type establishments. Over the years, some of these schools changed their commitment towards certain religions or even completely lost it. There are still many of them that keep their affiliation on a high level.
Currently, there are approximately 1000 religiously-affiliated institutes of higher education represented mostly small liberal arts colleges offering bachelor programs in a variety of fields of study. There are also several big research universities as well. All these schools are private, as the church in the USA is separated from the state.  There are almost no community colleges in that list as private community colleges are very rare.

How do I know that the college is religiously-affiliated?
You can see the affiliation in the names of some schools (i.e. Southern Nazarene University, St. Catherine University Southwestern Christian College, etc.) In most cases though, the connection with a certain religion is not so obvious. University logos may contain some religious attributes, like a cross, bible, candles, etc.  Schools’ mottos may include certain phrases pointing to their affiliation, i.e. Baylor University “For Church, for Texas”, or Drew University: “Freely ye have received, freely give.” (from Matthew 10:8). Finally, the mission statement, as well as information about the school that is available on its website, will tell you a lot. The college website is the first place you need to look before investigating other sources of information.

Could this type of schools be a good fit for non-religious people? Does religious affiliation affect the study process and, if “Yes”, to what extent?
Studying at a religiously-affiliated college or university is very individual decision and, of course, it could be a very good option for you. The majority of schools are open to people from all faiths. Religious affiliation may affect campus life, but the level of influence varies from university to university. There are places where one could hardly find any features of religious affiliation, as well as the ones where they expressed very clearly. Here is the list of most conservative colleges and universities in the USA: https://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/news/a8480/most-conservative-colleges. The possible requirements that religiously-affiliated colleges may have for their students include but not limited to the following:
  •    enrollment in a required number of hours of academic study or religious courses
  •    engagement in religious activities (worships, services, etc.)
  •    signing a statement of faith or an honor code

Does the application process to religiously-affiliated colleges differ from secular ones?
It depends upon the school. In general, the main list of documents includes the standard set: an application form, financial documents, academic transcripts, standardized test scores, references, and essays. After conducting very quick research, I have noticed a few aspects I want to share with you:
  •    In addition to TOEFL and IELTS, some schools have an option to take CLT which is the Classic Learning Test (https://www.cltexam.com), which is a comparatively new (2015) standardized test developed by Classic Learning Initiatives used for college admissions for a number of schools in the USA;
  •    Spiritual/character references from pastors, ministers, clerics, or people who know you well in this regard could be required as well;
  •    Additional essays about faith, beliefs, and other religious issues i.e. Liberty University: “Tell us how personal faith and beliefs allow you to contribute to Liberty’s mission to develop Christ-centered leaders?”;
  •    List of religious activities a student was involved.

Useful links:
What are Religiously affiliated Colleges and Universities in the USA? – https://www.thecollegemonk.com/what-are-religious-affiliated-colleges-and-universities/b/1
Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Oxford—Once Christian? – https://answersingenesis.org/christianity/harvard-yale-princeton-oxford-once-christian/
A Guide to Religiously-Affiliated Colleges – https://blog.collegevine.com/a-guide-to-religiously-affiliated-colleges/
Religion in College: What it Means to be Religiously-Affiliated – https://www.universitylanguage.com/blog/choosing-a-college/religion-in-college
Choosing Between Secular and Christian Universities: The Critical Difference – https://www.warnerpacific.edu/news/choosing-between-secular-and-christian-universities-the-critical-difference/