Many students believe distance learning and Christian teachings should go hand-in-hand, leading them to search out online schools founded on biblical principles. The following guide introduces the benefits of online Christian colleges and universities, details several popular Christian degree paths, and helps students find the school that’s right for them. Keep reading to learn more about getting an online education that can help you grow both spiritually and academically.
Whether seeking a large Catholic university or a small Baptist seminary, college-bound students can use the search tool below to filter options by denomination, degrees available, location, tuition, student population and more. In addition, they can compare up to four colleges at a time to easily see which school best fits their needs.
Though everyone has a specific reason for pursuing an online Christian education, there are some general commonalities between students. The top reasons for enrolling in an online Christian college or university include:
Faith-based schools incorporate theology and spiritual concepts of living across curricula and classes, encouraging students to deepen their beliefs while completing their degrees.
Rather than feeling the need to hide their Christian values, students at faith-based universities are surrounded by others who, though they may differ on some points, believe strongly in God and salvation.
Christian colleges emphasize spiritual discipline in all that students do, ranging from work ethic to academic integrity when taking exams or writing papers. By keeping values front and center, students learn how to put God first when making decisions – including career choices after graduation.
In addition to online courses typically costing less than class-based studies, students may find Christian schools cost less than their secular counterparts.
The asynchronous nature of most online classes allows learners to complete assignments at times that fit their schedules, which is especially beneficial for students who are working or ministering while completing their degrees.
Hundreds of online Christian universities and Bible colleges exist throughout the country, and prospective students may not initially understand how they differ. While there are many similarities between these two options, there are also significant differences, which we outline below.
|Christian Universities||Bible Colleges|
|Though Christian universities may have religion classes tucked into their general education requirements, they offer secular programs similar to those at other major universities. Thus, Christian universities expose students to common worldviews.||Bible college students can pursue degrees all the way to the doctoral level, just as they can at Christian universities. However, coursework is exclusively focused on Christian topics. Rather than taking general education classes, students focus their entire degrees on areas such as Christian leadership, pastoral studies and church administration.|
|With Christian and non-Christian students mixing, student clubs and organizations run the gamut from being exclusively focused on faith to serving purely social purposes.||Activities and student groups are either focused on Christian endeavors, such as Bible study, or have strong spiritual links (e.g., volunteer groups).|
|Chapels are commonplace on school grounds, but participation in religious services depends on the institution. More conservative schools may require attendance, while others provide it as an option.||Bible colleges require religious participation, and it is often a substantial part of a student’s time at college. Whether in the form of daily chapel or weekly Bible study, these activities are essentially extensions of the curriculum.|
|Students with a Christian faith who want to study career-focused or practical topics should feel at home at a Christian university. These students may not be planning to go into the ministry, but they’ll be able to merge their spiritual and academic lives.||People who plan to go into ministry or find a career within the church are suited for Bible College study.|
Numerous college degrees directly focused on biblical themes are offered by online universities across the nation. The following section highlights some of the most popular Christian degrees, along with common coursework and possible career outcomes after graduation.
Created for individuals planning to work in direct ministry, this degree provides a solid foundation in theology and biblical studies while also developing skills in spiritual leadership and pastoral discipleship.
Reviews the biblical foundations of ministry and emphasizes the view that ministry is a calling from God.Skills & Knowledge Gained
Explores how to teach the Bible and Christian concepts to various age groups; surveys teaching methods and learning styles.Skills & Knowledge Gained
Analyzes spiritual leaders throughout the Bible so students can begin cultivating pastoral leadership qualities.Skills & Knowledge Gained
Courses in this major provide students with an exhaustive understanding of the Bible while also giving them the tools to understand and uncover the intended meaning of scripture and apply those concepts to the modern world.
Provides a historical landscape for understanding the context of the Old and New Testament, with emphasis on exegetical work.Skills & Knowledge Gained
Gives students a starting point for understanding the principles that informed the creation of the church and shaped the role of clergy within it.Skills & Knowledge Gained
Looks at the first five books of the Bible through a historical and exegetical lens to understand the foundations of scripture and early history of God.Skills & Knowledge Gained
Prepares graduates to manage the dynamics of church governance, where most congregations are overseen by a board of governors, while coordinating volunteer efforts to run a church.Skills & Knowledge Gained
By combining coursework in business management and church leadership, this degree prepares graduates for administrative and leadership roles in finance or operations.
Reviews the steps for reporting donations and expenditures; introduces them to accounting and financial statements.Skills & Knowledge Gained
Offers an overview of laws on labor, liability and contracts while also reviewing legal documents of different denominations.Skills & Knowledge Gained
Exposes students to concepts of decision-making and management, financial transparency, and how to be business-minded in a ministry setting.Skills & Knowledge Gained
There are many financial aid opportunities available for online Christian students. Those looking for more information should read our online college financial aid guide, which breaks down every funding option and provides expert advice on filling out the FAFSA®.
Students at online Christian universities or Bible colleges have many opportunities for fellowship with fellow believers. Clubs and ministries not only help students stay grounded in their faith, but also provide avenues for building meaningful friendships, taking part in service projects, and continuing their spiritual development. Many of these groups maintain an online presence, making it easy for distance learners to participate from home. Here are a few of the most prominent ones:
This national group brings together student clubs and ministry groups on college campuses to help them learn from each other.
Chi Alpha is a campus-based ministry organization that seeks to build communities of fellowship, prayer and worship among students and faculty.
This organization serves as a resource to the many student-led groups focused on Christian fellowship.
The CCC helps students find churches to attend and other religious communities to meet up with in their town.
FOCUS student chapters promote spiritual growth by connecting Catholic students to mission opportunities, retreats and evangelical outreach events.
Operating as a student club on college campuses across the United States, InterVarsity brings together Christian students and faculty for fellowship.
RUF has been serving college campuses since the 1970s. Students can find a RUF outpost via the website’s handy search feature.
There are two types of accreditation to look for when evaluating colleges: institutional and programmatic.
Online Christian colleges may either receive institutional accreditation from a secular body, a Christian body or both. Colleges and universities accredited by secular organizations have gone through a rigorous process and review by the accrediting body to receive their distinction. Most people consider accreditation from regional bodies to be more prestigious than national accreditation. The former is commonplace at Christian universities, putting them on equal footing with traditional public and private universities.
Institutional accreditation given by Christian organizations includes some of the same metrics as a secular body, but includes added standards related to personal spiritual development and use of a faith-based curriculum. Although it’s possible for a Christian university to be institutionally accredited by a Christian organization, this option is typically reserved for Bible colleges.
Programmatic (or specialized) accreditors, meanwhile, review individual degrees or departments within a school rather than the institution as a whole. This is most common with Christian schools that also offer traditional subjects, unlike seminaries or Bible colleges.
Here are three accrediting agencies that deal exclusively with Christian schools and programs:
Comprised of 200+ colleges and universities providing Bible-centered postsecondary educations, ABHE schools enroll more than 50,000 students.
The ATS Commission on Accrediting evaluates more than 270 graduate schools of theology throughout the U.S. and Canada.
TRACS has operated as an institutional accrediting agency since 1979, with a focus on promoting and improving Christian schools throughout America.
This webpage is just a starting point on your journey to a faith-based education. Here are five more places to look for guidance:
The AACCS includes member schools and seminaries with the shared goal of providing an education that exalts God. It has a handy directory of member schools.
Operating throughout the U.S., the AACS is a useful resource for finding schools and programs that support and nurture Christian students.
This group of 13 schools is committed to providing Christ-centered higher education.
CCCU is a professional organization that helps faculty and students alike by providing a database of affiliated colleges.
Families and prospective students looking for information about schools rooted in the Catholic faith can find it at NCEA.