Online Christian Colleges & Universities
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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.
Online Christian College Rankings
With so many Christian colleges offering online courses and degrees these days, it can be difficult to gauge their quality. We took on the challenge of researching hundreds of colleges and analyzing countless data points to round up this year's 50-best online Christian universities. The ranking below represents colleges that deliver the highest educational value based on factors such as tuition, financial aid, student/teacher ratio, and average graduate earnings.
- Institutionally accredited
- Public or private not-for-profit
- Active Christian Affliation
- At least 5 online associate degree or certificate programs (2-year schools)
- Median annual alumni earnings 10 years after entering the college
- In-state tuition and fees for undergraduates
- Student/teacher ratio
- Graduation rate (4-year schools only)
- % of students receiving institutional financial aid (first-time, full-time undergrads)
- Average amount of institutional aid awarded per student (first-time, full-time undergrads)
- Availability of placement services upon completion
- Availability of academic/career counseling services
- Availability of employment services
- 3-year student cohort loan default rate
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS): National Center for Education Statistics
Latest "Final Release" data available as of Fall 2016 College Scorecard: U.S. Department of Education
Online programs at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College offer year-round start dates and numerous ways to earn credits beyond traditional courses. Students can complete their degree program with a combination of distance courses, prior learning assessments, and standardized testing. The school provides its distance students with supports that can be accessed online, from tutors to peer mentors. Courses have recently been transitioned from a 16-week to an eight-week format that makes it easier for learners to map their degree path. Students take four years on average to complete an online undergraduate program at the school. Many programs also offer an online minor or certificate option.
At Buena Vista University, distance students benefit from a low student-to-teacher ratio that allows professors to work individually with learners. Courses are centered on collaboration, and students are encouraged to bring their experiences into the classroom to promote a well-rounded dialogue. In addition to online classes, the school offers evening courses as well as live-streamed classes that students can attend from their local community college. Courses are given in eight-week sessions comprised of structured workshops. Online and on-campus students benefit from distance access to the school's library, as well as career services and internship services that help learners find placements during and after their time at BVU.
Judson University's faith-based programs cover biblical and theological studies as well as Christian ministries and worship arts. Students have the opportunity to partake in learning experiences outside of the classroom, including internships and chapel ministry teams. Programs offer students practical experiences that they can build on after graduation to provide leadership to their ministry and to teach and apply God's Word. The school promotes spirituality and a sense of community with their "small groups" initiative. Small groups, hosted by student leaders and resident assistants, provide opportunities for Bible study and prayer in dorms and on campus throughout the school year.
Distance learning is the primary method of course delivery at Amridge University. All of its courses are available online â€“ even classes taught on-campus can be viewed through live streams or recordings. The school is affiliated with the churches of Christ, but many students have different religious backgrounds and are affiliated with other churches. Instructors use the Blackboard learning management system to deliver courses, with lectures and readings available 24/7. Class sizes are small, and instructors strive to respond to students with 36 hours of their request or question. Instructors and staff also monitor students' progress and reach out to them to assist if they fall behind.
Distance students at Chaminade University of Honolulu can earn degrees at the associate, bachelor's, or master's level. The school also offers several hybrid graduate-level programs that combine online and in-person courses. These programs were developed to accommodate the needs of non-traditional students including working professionals and adults who are seeking to advance in their career or pursue a new path. Online courses are delivered in 10-week accelerated terms, with start dates in January, April, July, and October. Internships, an entrepreneurs program, and a student exchange program are some of the ways that students can gain experience and new perspectives during their studies to foster success after graduation.
The University of Saint Francis offers a "virtual campus" where students can complete degree programs at the master's level fully online. With a full-time course load, most programs can be completed in 12 months. Courses are taught by the same instructors that lead on-campus classes, and the school emphasizes the importance of a faculty that cares about its students and is invested in their success. All online courses at the school are asynchronous, so students can log on to view course materials, participate in discussions, and complete assignments at any time. On-campus students can choose from a wider variety of majors, including religious studies such as ministry and theology.
Many of the online programs at Siena Heights University are structured as "inverted majors." These programs are intended for working professionals who already have technical training and seek to earn a degree. Inverted major programs feature an individualized degree path for each student that builds on their current training and experience, and guides them towards their career goals. Instead of completing any further training in their major area, students supplement their education with liberal arts classes, management classes, and other general education courses to earn a degree. Other online programs offer a more traditional degree path for recent high school graduates or students without any prior training and experience.
Students seeking a religious education at Graceland University can choose an undergraduate major or minor or a graduate-level program to fulfil their goals. The school's seminary educates and prepares future leaders for work in congregations and churches. Students learn through teaching, service, prayerful scholarship, and mentoring, and curriculum guides them to be faithful, discerning, and creative in their leadership. Undergraduate students in the religion and philosophy program learn through the study of classical and contemporary works, and can specialize their degree with electives in environmental ethics, religion and popular culture, and science and religion, among others.
Canisius College's online programs center on Jesuit values combined with a rigorous curriculum and quality instruction. Students learn in a virtual classroom led by teachers with real-world experience; many also hold terminal degrees in their field. Distance students can access several support services to help them throughout their studies: a help desk for technology issues, an online writing tutor service, and tutorials on online learning, citations, Skye, and Prezi, among others. Courses may be synchronous, with set days and times to log on and participate, or asynchronous, with no set schedule, depending on the professor's requirements.
Students at Viterbo University can pursue a degree in religious studies that guides them in topics related to social justice and spirituality in today's world. Curriculum centers on critical thinking and writing skills, with instruction on religious history and Christian, Franciscan, and sacramental scripture and theologies. The program concludes with a mentored capstone project during senior year. Students may also choose an accelerated 3+1 degree program in religious studies comprised of three years of undergraduate coursework followed by one year of graduate work. Graduates of the 3+1 program are awarded a master of business administration or a master of arts in servant leadership.
Just like their on-campus counterparts, online programs at Belhaven University are centered in a Christian teaching curriculum and taught by caring and experienced instructors. The school emphasizes a close working relationship between professors and students, with frequent communication and support for a student's success. Distance classes have no scheduled time that everyone must log on; instead, students complete weekly assignments at their convenience. In addition to submitting assignments due on Saturdays, students must post a 250-word text to a discussion board by Wednesday each week, and two 125-word texts at a later point in the week.
At Baker University, distance students take courses through the Moodle learning management system. This system provides a central location where students can communicate with instructors and peers, manage assignments and projects, and submit their work and assessments. Most online students at the school are working professionals, and many overseas military members are also in their online programs. All distance courses are asynchronous, allowing students to complete their work around their personal and professional schedule. Programs are held year-round, with multiple start dates for new cohorts. Classes are accelerated: between six to eight weeks for business courses, and six to seven weeks for liberal arts courses.
Religious programs at Malone University offer students curriculum that combines the study of theology with an understanding of worship in the modern world. Students learn through hands-on experiences in local churches, and have the opportunity to preach in community worship and pursue internships as well. Professors come from numerous faith traditions, giving students a better understanding of different traditions. Malone also allows students to combine several majors and tailor a degree towards their career and spiritual aspirations. Those interested in working with the younger generation can enter the youth ministry program, where they will learn to educate and communicate with teenagers in creative and effective ways.
At Quincy University, students seeking a program to enrich their spirituality and develop their understanding of the world can major in theology and philosophy. The program brings students together for open class discussions on Western religions and philosophy, including scriptural, moral, and pastoral traditions. Curriculum is centered on mature thinking and intellectual versatility, guiding students to explore their belief systems. There are several concentrations offered as well: theology, pastoral ministry, philosophy, and Catholic and Franciscan theology. In addition to classroom learning, students choose an internship at a religious institution, and fulfill campus ministry leadership roles.
All of Messenger College's programs are available online. The school offers fields of study that guide students in developing a Christian worldview grounded in the Bible. Messenger College's degree programs include foundational Bible knowledge, general education courses, and leadership and professionalism skills. Students in all programs also study communication and technology skills that will make them effective contributors to the workplace in their chosen career. Programs offer certificate, associate's, or bachelor's level training that prepares students to enter the workforce as lay ministry or vocational ministry, or to further their studies in a seminary or graduate school.
At Southwestern Christian College, students can pursue their associate degree in liberal arts as well as a bachelor's degrees in Bible and Religious Education. All academic programs at SCC were designed with Christian Living concepts in mind to develop the whole person through quality academics and human growth and development. Online students can buy and sell their textbooks through the online bookstore. The Center for Student Success also offers student resources such as tutoring services, career counseling, and community service opportunities as well as workshops to help students with proper note taking, study skills, and time management.
Online degree programs at Concordia University are designed to be flexible and accommodating for working, non-traditional, and returning students. The school allows students to transfer up to 90 credits from a four-year college or university, and 70 credits from a two-year school. Students may also earn credits towards their degree from military or work experiences. Most courses are eight to ten weeks long, but the format of each program varies. Some are asynchronous, and allow students to progress through the program at their own pace. Others use a cohort-based model, where students learn in set groups that proceed through the entire program together.
Distance students at McKendree University can earn one of eight degrees through online study, with options at the bachelor, master's, and doctoral level. Online courses at McKendree use the Blackboard learning management system, a platform where students can access course materials, participate in group discussions, contact peers and instructors, and submit assignments. The school also offers support services for its distance students, including a student success and advising center that provides academic tutoring and assistance in charting a degree path. Students can also view online guides to graduate school, education-related job searches, interview skills, and resumes and cover letters.
Clarks Summit University's online offerings include distance programs at their Baptist Bible Seminary. These programs, which lead to degrees at the masters and doctoral levels, center on interaction with peers and professors to create an online community. The format of the programs is varied: some can be completed fully online, while others require an in-person internship or brief on-campus residencies. Beyond the seminary's programs, the school also offers online study in secular subject areas like business administration, education, and literature. Prospective students who have taken some college courses already can enter a degree completion program, which allows students to take online courses of their choosing to earn their degree.
Gwynedd Mercy University offers online degree programs with a simple application process designed to streamline the admission of qualified candidates. Prospective students fill out an initial form, and are then contacted by an admissions counselor who helps them gather any materials needed to complete their application. Many online programs are accelerated, with five-week classes at the undergraduate level and seven-week classes for graduate programs. Students may only take one course at a time. The school has many resources for its online students, including a career development center and academic resource center, as well as a 24/7 online tutoring service called Smarthinking.
Briar Cliff University's online degree programs are designed to be accommodating for adults with full professional and personal schedules. The programs are degree completion, allowing students who have taken prior schooling to transfer their credits and finish their degree. Students are expected to log on at least two to three times per week for each course (and more for summer courses, which are accelerated). Courses use the Collaborate program to stream lectures and post recordings of previous sessions. The school also provides students with an ePortfolio tool where they can store, organize, and share materials that embody their learning.
Degree programs in religion and theology are available at both the undergraduate and graduate level at Saint Leo University. The bachelor of arts in religion program guides students in viewing the human experience holistically, and offers hands-on opportunities in peer ministry, internships, and service trips. Areas of study range from women in the church to the moral and spiritual aspects of marriage. At the graduate level, students will explore critical theological questions about human origin and purpose in life. Career skills including leadership in liturgical and ministerial service are also included in the curriculum.
Distance programs at Carlow University fall into two categories: fully online programs and low residency programs with some online components. Online programs are highly flexible, allowing students to continue working in their current job or dedicating time to family and personal responsibilities while still earning their degree. However, courses are not self-paced. There is a course schedule that gives deadlines for readings, assignments, and participation in discussions. Curriculum also includes group and team activities where students interact with peers to enhance their learning. The university estimates that students should spend about 10 to 12 hours per week on each online course.
Students seeking a degree program in religion have numerous choices at Newman University, whose undergraduate offerings include everything from biblical languages to spirituality and the arts. Prerequisite courses include the Old and New Testaments in addition to math, science, and English; higher-level curriculum delves into spiritual growth and theological research. Students also choose several electives to determine their program's emphasis. At the associate's level, learners can earn a two-year degree in Christian ministries. In this program, they will be introduced to ministry and spiritual growth, and select several electives to complete 60 hours of studies.
LeTourneau University's distance programs are taught by full-time faculty as well as businesspeople who bring lessons from their experiences into the classroom. Curriculum emphasizes a practical, hands-on education that puts theoretical concepts to work in the real world. Courses are delivered with the Canvas Learning Management System, a platform that allows students to view all course materials, participate in discussions, contact instructors, and submit assignments. Resources to help students succeed are available online, including academic advisors, career services, and information technology assistance. Library materials can be accessed online as well, with research databases and assistance from librarians available for all distance and on-campus students.
Studies in religion are among the many online offerings at Wayland Baptist University. The school provides degree programs in a distinctly Christian setting, with a focus on service to God as well as career success. Students can pursue Christian ministry studies through distance, with curriculum that covers the foundations of the Old and New Testaments, contemporary theology, Christian ethics, and preaching. Online courses use the Blackboard learning management system to deliver information and collect assignments. Instructors expect students to participate frequently with comments, questions, and answers on each class's bulletin boards, and they are available to help with technical or academic problems throughout the semester.
The online undergraduate degree programs at North Greenville University are available for students who are 22 years of age or older. While courses are online, the programs may require some in-person participation at sites local to the student. For example, the criminal justice program includes an internship placement at a site of the student's choosing. Similarly, the Christian ministries program requires students to be involved in their local church as contributors to the ministries of the congregation. In all of the online programs, curriculum combines practical applications and biblical principles to provide a well-rounded education that imparts the values of the Christian faith.
Concordia University has several programs available for students seeking to further their religious education. Although the school is a Lutheran Christian university, students from all religious backgrounds are welcomed and included in a respectful dialogue in the classroom and on campus. Curriculum includes field experiences in local schools and at the People's City Mission nearby, as well as classroom learning in the areas of beliefs, ethics, and religious practices. Many graduates of the school's theology program continue on to graduate school programs or the seminary. The school also offers a pre-seminary club that provides fellowship for students who aspire to be pastors.
Nontraditional students at Mississippi College may be interested in the school's online accelerated programs, where they can earn an undergraduate degree in business administration or communication, or a master's degree in applied communication. These programs, as well as the school's traditionally-paced online programs, accommodate the schedules of working adults. The school suggests students evaluate their "online readiness" before beginning a distance program, and offers a questionnaire that allows students to assess if online classes are a good fit. Online courses are delivered through Moodle, a course management system where professors post information and hold classroom discussions, and students take assessments and communicate with peers.
University of the Cumberlands has numerous degree programs for students seeking religious studies. The university offers uncommon fields of study in church planting and church music, as well as more standard programs in youth ministries, biblical studies, and missions. Students can study a biblical or modern language in addition to their major, or minor in a religious program while choosing a secular field of study for their major. Graduates of the school's religious programs go on to work in local churches as pastors and ministers, and to minister through national organizations and denominational agencies.
The distance education options at DeSales University run the gamut from certificates to doctoral degrees, with online programs that require no in-person classroom presence. Undergraduate courses are accelerated, with six- or eight-week formats during fall and winter semesters and a three-week format during the winter "minimester." There are eleven start dates throughout the year for each program. Students are also encouraged to transfer in credits from other institutions, earn credits through CLEP testing, and earn credits from work experience and military or corporate training. Up to 75 credits (25 transfer courses) can be transferred in total.
The University of Saint Mary's online education options are highly flexible, with programs that are fully online and asynchronous. As such, they have no specific times that students must log in or participate, as long as work is completed by the instructor's deadlines. The school is committed to supporting its students, both online and on-campus, with access to a 24/7 Personal Support Center to solve computer issues and provide technical assistance. Learners also work with a dedicated student support services coordinator who reached out periodically to offer support and guidance. Upon graduation, students will receive the same diploma as on-campus students, with no reference to the distance nature of the program.
PC Virtual, the distance education arm of Presentation College, has several programs available for students who can't or don't wish to attend courses on campus. The school's online offerings are in healthcare-related fields, with specific career paths for students seeking a career in a doctor's office or hospital. Curriculum combines field-specific skills such as medical coding, surgical technology, and radiologic technology, with the core competencies of critical thinking and communication that will benefit workers in any field. Many programs also include room for students to take additional courses in business, health science, or other areas that suit their interests and career aspirations.
Distance students at Southwestern Adventist University can pursue a higher education in faith-based studies through bachelor's programs in religion and theology. The religion program is Christ-centered and Bible-based, with teachings that align with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Students benefit from small class sizes and frequent interactions with professors. In the theology program, prospective pastors are trained in biblical understanding, church leadership, and evangelism. Students will also learn about administration of churches. The program includes mandatory field work through church assignments, where learners put their practical ministry and evangelism skills to work. These and all distance programs at the school have the same courses, content, and instructors as on-campus programs.
King University has career-focused undergraduate programs for online students, with curriculum based on industry-specific skills in business, IT, and healthcare. Accelerated programs allow students to complete their major-related classes for undergraduate programs in 16 months. Classes are held in four semesters each year, with multiple start dates available. The school boasts articulation agreements with area community colleges, so students can complete required courses for their associate's degree at King. Transfer credits are also accepted; up to 76 credits can be applied towards any of the school's bachelor's degrees. At the graduate level, students can complete an MBA or masters in nursing with a flexible schedule to accommodate their needs.
Spring Arbor University's online programs combine the foundations of their subject matter with current strategies being used in the real world. The school is also dedicated to providing a strong support system for its adult learners. Each distance student is assigned a Student Success Coach who helps them develop their career goals and establish a balance between school, work, and personal life. Courses are delivered through Blackboard, where students can access materials and submit assignments. Part-time and full-time study is available, and students can take as many online courses as they'd like. However, they are advised to speak with an advisor before registration.
The Christian studies program at Iowa Wesleyan University seeks to give students an understanding of religion as a phenomenon, with an emphasis on Christianity. Students will learn about how religion has shaped history, and how it affects the way humans live today. In addition to religion-specific information, students will learn skills in analytical thinking, effective communication, and moral reasoning. Graduates will be prepared to enter careers or continue their education in the areas of law, ministry, education, the arts, and other fields that rely on communication and collaboration. Christian studies is also available as an 18-credit minor for students pursuing a degree in another area of study.
Niagara University's religious studies program gives students a comprehensive view of religion and how people express their faith around the world. Students will learn how the traditions of different religions around the world impact the people living in it. Niagara hosts a local chapter of Theta Alpha Kappa, the national honor society for religious studies and theology. Students with an eligible GPA, residency, and class ranking can be inducted to the society. After graduation, students of the religious studies program find employment in churches, synagogues, and mosques, in the fields of education, outreach, ministry, and journalism, among others.
Distance programs at William Woods University offer students the opportunity to earn an associate's, four-year, or graduate degree while maintaining work and family commitments. The school also offers online transfer programs for those who need a degree completion option. Courses are eight weeks long, and students can start and stop their degree as needed to accommodate their schedules. This accelerated pace also allows for a faster degree path than a traditional on-campus daytime program. In addition to learning critical subject matter, students will have the opportunity to network and collaborate with peers, building their list of contacts in their desired profession while developing key communication skills.
Duquesne University has fully online and hybrid online/on-campus programs to meet the needs of its non-traditional students. Programs are designed to foster close relationships between professors and classmates, with small class sizes and frequent contact with support services staff. Advisors are in place to help students reach their professional goals, and IT staff assists with any technical help needed over the course of the program. Online courses are taught by the same instructors as those who lead on-campus courses, and they use up-to-date technologies that provide a seamless learning experience. Upon completion of their program, graduates can join Duquesne's Alumni Association, gaining access to nationwide events and a wide alumni network.
The online learning programs at Oral Roberts University are accelerated, offering a faster path to a degree for non-traditional learners. Many courses are taught by the same professors as their on-campus counterparts; others are led by adjuncts with a master's degree or higher. Classes are delivered in seven-week sessions year-round, and students take two classes at a time. After completing a program, students can walk in the University's graduation ceremony, and will receive the same diploma as on-campus students. There is one fully online master's degree â€“ a leadership MBA program â€“ as well as a hybrid program in Christian school administration.
Prospective students seeking a career in Christian ministry can earn a relevant degree online through Ottawa University. The distance bachelor's program in Christian ministries provides a faith-based education with no on-campus requirements. Students will learn practical skills in effective ministry and how to build programs, and delve into topics from science and religion to theological thinking and philosophy. The school also offers numerous minors to supplement the program, allowing students to build their skills in communication, leadership and management, or education, among others. Online students at Ottawa work with a personal academic advisor who assists in course selection and career guidance.
Saint Joseph's College has several online options for students seeking a religious education. Theology students learn effective ministry skills based in Catholic doctrine, preparing them to work in settings from parishes and diocesan agencies to hospitals and social service agencies. The school also offers a fast track to the master of arts in theology program for its online theological studies students. Distance students can also participate in a "study away" program that combines online learning with a week abroad. These opportunities allow students to visit sacred sites and engage in fellowship in areas of historical significance.
Distance students at Ohio Christian University have numerous choices in fields of study, from nursing to political science. Each program integrates Christian principles into curriculum and prepares students to enter the workforce or begin graduate work. Those seeking a program in religion can enter the online leadership and ministry program, which leads to a bachelor of arts degree. Learners in this field can concentrate their education in biblical studies, church planting, organizational leadership, or pastoral ministry. Graduates will become effective leaders as Christians in their area of influence. Certificate, associate's, and graduate programs in ministry are also offered online.
Online programs at the University of Saint Francis provide distance students with six graduate and one undergraduate degree options. Students learn from the same professors as their on-campus counterparts, and instructors work closely with learners to support their success. All of the school's distance classes are asynchronous, allowing students to log on at any time during the week to view course materials, participate in discussions, and submit assignments and assessments. While classwork is online, students may have to complete in-person practicums in field placements local to their homes. Many students bring transfer credits with them, allowing for a faster path to graduation.
Online programs at the University of the Incarnate Word run the gamut from accounting to psychology. Students participate in courses through Blackboard, and the school offers a help desk for technology problems that prevent learners from accessing course materials or participating in their class in any way. There are numerous "student success" services in place to support students in their studies, and they can be accessed online for distance students. The academic advising center can provide assistance over email or phone, and the writing and learning center posts information on everything from MLA and APA formatting to common writing mistakes.
Marian University offers several programs that can be completed fully online or in a hybrid online/on-campus format. Programs are career-driven, with fields of study like nursing and paralegal studies that provide qualifications and skills needed in the workplace. While classes are online, the programs may include in-person elements such as internships, externships, and job shadowing experiences. Some of the programs have age, experience, or education requirements that must be met prior to admission. The school uses Canvas learning management system to host courses and support communication between students and instructors. Distance students also have access to an online job board, an information technology help desk, and library materials.
The online degree program at Bethesda University imparts students with a comprehensive education in religion. At the undergraduate level, students can specialize the religion program with a concentration in pastoral ministry, biblical studies, or Christian education. Students from the United States and overseas participate in the program, gaining a foundation of knowledge in the Bible and theology that can be carried over into whatever discipline the student chooses to enter. Applicants will be reviewed based on their moral character and Christian commitment in addition to their academic records. Students log into the Moodle learning management system to access course materials, communicate with peers and instructors, and submit assignments.
Bethel University's distance programs vary in their format: some are fully online, some are a hybrid of online and face-to-face courses, and some are primarily online but involve one or two weeks of intensive study on campus each year. The online seminary programs offer several concentrations at the master's level, from children's and family ministry to transformational leadership. Students learn to engage and impact their community while gaining a Christian worldview. Numerous secular degrees can be earning online as well, with business, nursing, and leadership bachelor's programs for adult learners. Even in secular programs, curriculum encourages students to explore their values and personal faith.
Distance learners at the University of Detroit Mercy benefit from small class sizes and frequent communication with professors and peers. Instructors are active in the virtual classroom, providing feedback and assistance, and engaging in discussions throughout the semester. Curriculum centers on problem solving and active learning, and students engage in research projects to build their knowledge. All of the programs are based in the values of compassionate service to those in need, service of faith, and promotion of justice, in addition to a commitment to a quality education. Students are expected to be strong readers and writers, as well as self-motivated and disciplined learners.
Search Online Christian Colleges by Denomination
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.
Why Attend an Online Christian College or University?
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:
1. Christian Values
Faith-based schools incorporate theology and spiritual concepts of living across curricula and classes, encouraging students to deepen their beliefs while completing their degrees.
2. Likeminded Individuals
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.
3. Focused Growth
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.
4. Potentially Lower Costs
In addition to online courses typically costing less than class-based studies, students may find Christian schools cost less than their secular counterparts.
5. Added Flexibility
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.
Christian Universities vs. Bible Colleges: Which Is Right for You?
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.||Student Culture|
|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.|
Spotlight on Christian Degrees, Coursework and Careers
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.
Degree Levels Available
Introduction to Church Ministry
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
- Practical teaching
- Sermon design
- Evaluation of biblical lessons
Personal Development of Leaders
Analyzes spiritual leaders throughout the Bible so students can begin cultivating pastoral leadership qualities.Skills & Knowledge Gained
- Monitoring and developing of personal character
- Understanding of an ordered private world
- Effective leadership
- Pastoral Ministry
- Associate Pastor
- Youth Minister
- Missions Minister
Biblical and Theological Studies
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.
Degree Levels Available
- Postgraduate Certificate
Provides a historical landscape for understanding the context of the Old and New Testament, with emphasis on exegetical work.Skills & Knowledge Gained
- Understanding of hermeneutics
- Ability to interpret verses
- Awareness of scriptural context
Biblical and Theological Foundations of Ministry
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
- Spiritual guidance
- Awareness of leadership examples in the Bible
- Ability to evaluate ministry from a biblical perspective
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
- Familiarity with the Old Testament
- Ability to verbalize the importance of Old Testament books
- Knowledge of text meaning and themes
Board Governance and Volunteer Management
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
- Understanding function of boards of directors
- Ability to work with senior leadership
- Volunteer management techniques
- Church History
- Spiritual Formation
By combining coursework in business management and church leadership, this degree prepares graduates for administrative and leadership roles in finance or operations.
Degree Levels Available
Reviews the steps for reporting donations and expenditures; introduces them to accounting and financial statements.Skills & Knowledge Gained
- Cost Analysis
- Managerial Accounting
- Accounting Controls
Civil and Church Regulations
Offers an overview of laws on labor, liability and contracts while also reviewing legal documents of different denominations.Skills & Knowledge Gained
- Familiarity with relevant laws
- Understanding of HR management
- Ability to review legal document
Ethics of Church Administration
Exposes students to concepts of decision-making and management, financial transparency, and how to be business-minded in a ministry setting.Skills & Knowledge Gained
- Ethical management
- Integrating faith into everyday life
- Church Finance
- Administrative Leadership
- Director of Operations
- Finance Director
Getting Help Paying for Online Christian Colleges
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®.
Staying Connected: Christian Student Clubs & Ministries
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:Association of College Ministries
This national group brings together student clubs and ministry groups on college campuses to help them learn from each other.Chi Alpha Christian Ministries
Chi Alpha is a campus-based ministry organization that seeks to build communities of fellowship, prayer and worship among students and faculty.Christians on Campus
This organization serves as a resource to the many student-led groups focused on Christian fellowship.College Church Connection
The CCC helps students find churches to attend and other religious communities to meet up with in their town.Fellowship of Catholic University Students
FOCUS student chapters promote spiritual growth by connecting Catholic students to mission opportunities, retreats and evangelical outreach events.InterVarsity
Operating as a student club on college campuses across the United States, InterVarsity brings together Christian students and faculty for fellowship.Reformed University Fellowship
RUF has been serving college campuses since the 1970s. Students can find a RUF outpost via the website’s handy search feature.
Accreditation for Online Christian Colleges and Universities
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:The Association for Biblical Higher Education
Comprised of 200+ colleges and universities providing Bible-centered postsecondary educations, ABHE schools enroll more than 50,000 students.The Association of Theological Schools: The Commission on Accrediting
The ATS Commission on Accrediting evaluates more than 270 graduate schools of theology throughout the U.S. and Canada.Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools
TRACS has operated as an institutional accrediting agency since 1979, with a focus on promoting and improving Christian schools throughout America.
Other Helpful Websites for College-Bound Christians
This webpage is just a starting point on your journey to a faith-based education. Here are five more places to look for guidance:American Association of Christian Colleges and Seminaries
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.American Association of Christian 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.Council for Christian Colleges & Universities
CCCU is a professional organization that helps faculty and students alike by providing a database of affiliated colleges.National Catholic Education Association
Families and prospective students looking for information about schools rooted in the Catholic faith can find it at NCEA.
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