Douglas E. Cowan is a Canadian academic in religious studies and the sociology of religion and currently holds a teaching position at Renison College, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Prior to this appointment he was Assistant Professor of Sociology & Religious Studies at the University of Missouri–Kansas City.

Cowan was born in Canada and received his undergraduate tertiary education at the University of Victoria where he was awarded the B.A. degree in English literature. He then proceeded to theological studies and received the M.Div (Honours) from St. Andrews Theological College. His doctoral work was undertaken through the University of Calgary. His dissertation supervisor was Professor Irving Hexham, who in turn was a student of the eminent British scholar Ninian Smart, the founder of the first Religious Studies Department in Britain.