The Higher Education Research Institute released its "The Spiritual Life of College Students" report Wednesday. The study began as researchers sought to track spiritual development of students through their college years, HERI said in a release.
The report said about 80 percent of respondents said they attended religious services in the previous year and discussed religion with friends and family.
"Almost eight students in 10 believe in God, with more than half perceiving God as 'love' or as the 'creator,' and about half experiencing God as a 'protector,'" the institute said.
In addition more than two-thirds pray often and receive comfort from their beliefs.
The report data are compiled from surveys last fall from 112,232 first-year students from 236 colleges and universities across the United States. The project is funded by the John Templeton Foundation.
The institute is based at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California-Los Angeles.