The top 25 religious colleges

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In 1636, the New College -- known today as Harvard University -- was founded as America's first institution of higher education. Though never officially aligned with any religion, the school was heavily influenced by its Puritan leaders. Since then, many colleges have taken the extra step of formally adopting a denomination.

The National Center for Education Statistics officially recognizes colleges' religious affiliations in their database -- and nearly 800 schools list a denomination. Using our Smart Rating system, StartClass ranked the top 25 religious colleges in the country.

To see the campuses, scroll through the gallery below:

26 PHOTOS
Top 25 religious colleges
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The top 25 religious colleges

#25. Baylor University

Smart Rating: 93.34
Religious affiliation: Baptist
Average SAT score: 1815
Average ACT score: 27

(Photo courtesy: Getty)

#24. College of the Ozarks

Smart Rating: 93.36
Religious affiliation: Presbyterian Church
Average SAT score: 1760
Average ACT score: 23

(AP Photo/Cliff Schiappa)

#23. American University

Smart Rating: 93.43
Religious affiliation: United Methodist
Average SAT score: 1870
Average ACT score: 28

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

#22. Wheaton College

Smart Rating: 93.44
Religious affiliation: Undenominational
Average SAT score: 1950
Average ACT score: 29

(AP Photo/Brian Kersey, File)

#21. Rhodes College

Smart Rating: 93.49
Religious affiliation: Presbyterian Church
Average SAT score: 1935
Average ACT score: 29

(AP Photo/Greg Campbell)

#20. Santa Clara University

Smart Rating: 93.52
Religious affiliation: Roman Catholic
Average SAT score: 1950
Average ACT score: 29

(Photo courtesy: Getty)

#19. Trinity University

Smart Rating: 93.548
Religious affiliation: Presbyterian Church
Average SAT score: 1897
Average ACT score: 29

(Harvey Meston/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

#18. Villanova University

Smart Rating: 93.55
Religious affiliation: Roman Catholic
Average SAT score: 1960
Average ACT score: 29

(Photo courtesy: Getty)

#17. Centre College

Smart Rating: 93.58
Religious affiliation: Presbyterian Church
Average SAT score: 1830
Average ACT score: 28

(Jonathan Palmer/Lexington Herald-Leader/MCT via Getty Images)

#16. College of the Holy Cross

Smart Rating: 93.63
Religious affiliation: Roman Catholic
Average SAT score: Not available
Average ACT score: Not available

(Photo courtesy: Getty)

#15. Fordham University

Smart Rating: 96.91
Religious affiliation: Roman Catholic
Average SAT score: 1880
Average ACT score: 28

(Photo courtesy: Getty)

#14. Southern Methodist University

Smart Rating: 96.94
Religious affiliation: United Methodist
Average SAT score: 1957
Average ACT score: 29

(Photo courtesy: Getty)

#13. University of Tulsa

Smart Rating: 96.95
Religious affiliation: Presbyterian Church
Average SAT score: 1905
Average ACT score: 29

(Photo courtesy: Getty)

#12. Brigham Young University-Provo

Smart Rating: 96.96
Religious affiliation: Latter Day Saints
Average SAT score: 1890
Average ACT score: 29

(Photo courtesy: Getty)

#11. DePauw University

Smart Rating: 97.14
Religious affiliation: United Methodist
Average SAT score: 1770
Average ACT score: 27

(AP Photo/Tom Strattman)

#10. St. Olaf College

Smart Rating: 97.27
Religious affiliation: Evangelical Lutheran Church
Average SAT score: 1890
Average ACT score: 29

(Photo courtesy: Getty)

#9. Pepperdine University

Smart Rating: 97.36
Religious affiliation: Churches of Christ
Average SAT score: 1835
Average ACT score: 27

(Photo courtesy: Getty)

#8. Emory University

Smart Rating: 97.61
Religious affiliation: United Methodist
Average SAT score: 2060
Average ACT score: 30

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

#7. Lafayette College

Smart Rating: 97.72
Religious affiliation: Presbyterian Church
Average SAT score: 1935
Average ACT score: 29

(Photo courtesy: Getty)

#6. Macalester College

Smart Rating: 97.73
Religious affiliation: Presbyterian Church
Average SAT score: 2047
Average ACT score: 30

(AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

#5. Boston College

Smart Rating: 97.79
Religious affiliation: Roman Catholic
Average SAT score: 2050
Average ACT score: 31

(Photo courtesy: Getty)

#4. Georgetown University

Smart Rating: 97.98
Religious affiliation: Roman Catholic
Average SAT score: 2130
Average ACT score: 31

(Photo courtesy: Getty)

#3. Davidson College

Smart Rating: 98.09
Religious affiliation: Presbyterian Church
Average SAT score: 2000
Average ACT score: 30

(Photo by Davis Turner/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

#2. University of Notre Dame

Smart Rating: 98.48
Religious affiliation: Roman Catholic
Average SAT score: 2145
Average ACT score: 33

(Photo courtesy: Getty)

#1. Duke University

Smart Rating: 98.68
Religious affiliation: United Methodist
Average SAT score: 2195
Average ACT score: 32

(Photo courtesy: Getty)

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The Smart Rating is a comprehensive score designed to evaluate a college's overall effectiveness and is based on five main factors -- financial affordability, career readiness, admissions selectivity, expert opinion and academic excellence -- with the highest possible score of 100.

The Presbyterian Church had the most representatives on the list, with eight colleges total and three in the top 10. Though some of these schools don't actively push a religious curriculum, they are all still officially categorized under a specific religion by the NCES.

#25. Baylor University

Smart Rating: 93.34
Religious affiliation: Baptist
Average SAT score: 1815
Average ACT score: 27

#24. College of the Ozarks

Smart Rating: 93.36
Religious affiliation: Presbyterian Church
Average SAT score: 1760
Average ACT score: 23

#23. American University

Smart Rating: 93.43
Religious affiliation: United Methodist
Average SAT score: 1870
Average ACT score: 28

#22. Wheaton College

Smart Rating: 93.44
Religious affiliation: Undenominational
Average SAT score: 1950
Average ACT score: 29

#21. Rhodes College

Smart Rating: 93.49
Religious affiliation: Presbyterian Church
Average SAT score: 1935
Average ACT score: 29

#20. Santa Clara University

Smart Rating: 93.52
Religious affiliation: Roman Catholic
Average SAT score: 1950
Average ACT score: 29

#19. Trinity University

Smart Rating: 93.548
Religious affiliation: Presbyterian Church
Average SAT score: 1897
Average ACT score: 29

#18. Villanova University

Smart Rating: 93.55
Religious affiliation: Roman Catholic
Average SAT score: 1960
Average ACT score: 29

#17. Centre College

Smart Rating: 93.58
Religious affiliation: Presbyterian Church
Average SAT score: 1830
Average ACT score: 28

#16. College of the Holy Cross

Smart Rating: 93.63
Religious affiliation: Roman Catholic
Average SAT score: Not available
Average ACT score: Not available

#15. Fordham University

Smart Rating: 96.91
Religious affiliation: Roman Catholic
Average SAT score: 1880
Average ACT score: 28

#14. Southern Methodist University

Smart Rating: 96.94
Religious affiliation: United Methodist
Average SAT score: 1957
Average ACT score: 29

#13. University of Tulsa

Smart Rating: 96.95
Religious affiliation: Presbyterian Church
Average SAT score: 1905
Average ACT score: 29

#12. Brigham Young University-Provo

Smart Rating: 96.96
Religious affiliation: Latter Day Saints
Average SAT score: 1890
Average ACT score: 29

#11. DePauw University

Smart Rating: 97.14
Religious affiliation: United Methodist
Average SAT score: 1770
Average ACT score: 27

#10. St. Olaf College

Smart Rating: 97.27
Religious affiliation: Evangelical Lutheran Church
Average SAT score: 1890
Average ACT score: 29

#9. Pepperdine University

Smart Rating: 97.36
Religious affiliation: Churches of Christ
Average SAT score: 1835
Average ACT score: 27

#8. Emory University

Smart Rating: 97.61
Religious affiliation: United Methodist
Average SAT score: 2060
Average ACT score: 30

#7. Lafayette College

Smart Rating: 97.72
Religious affiliation: Presbyterian Church
Average SAT score: 1935
Average ACT score: 29

#6. Macalester College

Smart Rating: 97.73
Religious affiliation: Presbyterian Church
Average SAT score: 2047
Average ACT score: 30

#5. Boston College

Smart Rating: 97.79
Religious affiliation: Roman Catholic
Average SAT score: 2050
Average ACT score: 31

#4. Georgetown University

Smart Rating: 97.98
Religious affiliation: Roman Catholic
Average SAT score: 2130
Average ACT score: 31

#3. Davidson College

Smart Rating: 98.09
Religious affiliation: Presbyterian Church
Average SAT score: 2000
Average ACT score: 30

#2. University of Notre Dame

Smart Rating: 98.48
Religious affiliation: Roman Catholic
Average SAT score: 2145
Average ACT score: 33

#1. Duke University

Smart Rating: 98.68
Religious affiliation: United Methodist
Average SAT score: 2195
Average ACT score: 32

Learn More About Colleges at StartClass

RELATED: See some of America's top religious architecture below:

12 PHOTOS
American religious architecture
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The top 25 religious colleges
Mormons' Temple in Salt Lake City, UT in the night (Photo via Getty)

Exterior of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, New York. (Photo via Shutterstock)

Islamic Center Of America on July 17, 2014 in Dearborn, Michigan. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)
The Baha'i House of Worship, Wilmette, Illinois, United States. (Photo by: MyLoupe/UIG via Getty Images)
Court yard of Hsi Lai Temple, Hacienda Heights, California, USA (Photo by Dee Jolie via Alamy)
Low angle view of a cathedral, National Cathedral, Washington DC, USA (Photo via Getty)
'Temple in San Diego, California' (Photo by Andrew Zarivny via Getty)
St. Louis Cathedral, view from Jackson Square, New Orleans, state of Louisiana, USA, North America (Photo by Naum Chayer via Alamy)
Details of Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Savannah, Georgia (Photo via Getty)
The Cathedral of Saint Paul sits atop Cathedral Hill in St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. Minnesota's real GDP grew 3.5 percent in 2012 and was ranked fifth in growth after North Dakota, Texas, Oregon and Washington. Photographer: Ariana Lindquist/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Thorncrown Chapel is the glass church in the woods
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