Choosing the right college can often be a tricky business. Many a times you could be torn between wanting to opt for one that boasts of academic achievement while at other times you might consider a college that helps indoctrinate human values along with quality education.
It is exactly these consideration that set us thinking about the plethora of Christian colleges dotting the map of US and how they can have a decidedly lasting impression on the academic skills that you go to acquire.
A Christian college is more than a mere platform to earn a degree. It helps a student fully grasp the true essence of Christian principles and apply it effectively in their day to day dealings. Students don’t just benefit from a disciplined teaching approach but also gain important life lessons on the road towards achieving academic brilliance.
The primary objective while opting for a Christian college is to look for a centre that just does not cater to your outward growth but also nurtures your soul and provides you with intrinsic confidence to take on challenges and strategise solutions that just does not solve problems but also brings about long-term benefits.
Process Of Selection
That said, we get on with our next challenge. It is amongst the 100s that are out there across the length and breadth of United States, how do we decide on the 20 best colleges? What should be the parameters based on which a choice needs to be made? Here are some of the broad factors we considered while deciding on our list of top 20:
- Rankings: We considered a wide cross section of rankings awarded by many prestigious organisations like the US News & World Report, PayScale, National Center For Education Statistics and the like. We zeroed on only those institutions which consistently scored above the rest in most of these surveys.
- Freshman Retention: We gathered comprehensive data about every specific college’s ability to retain fresh students and the percentage which quit every year to join other institutes. In many ways it reflects the intrinsic culture within an institute
- Academic Reputation: Of course this is an absolutely important factor. Word of mouth, talking to present and ex-students and written matter available on the colleges we considered helped us take a call on the reputation aspect.
- Affordability: It’s finally mostly about money. However good a college might be, if you cannot afford the education they offer it ain’t no good for you. It is exactly for this reason we considered a balanced mix of quality education along with reasonable expenses
- Financial Aid/Support: The percentage who received financial aid and the extent of financial support that was doled out by these institutes also went a long way in taking the final decision. In many ways it helped ascertain and gauge student satisfaction and the college’s commitment to achieve wider good.
- Success Rate: This no doubt is the best indicator. The number of students who achieved their bachelor’s or masters degree and the extent to which the degree help them professional success as well as boosted their career growth is very important.
Of course apart from this we also considered the listing of colleges affiliated to Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and of course the accreditation bodies as well before formulating this final list. Here is a look at the top 20 Christian colleges across US in descending order of ranking with the best one at the end of the list.
The Messiah College was Founded in 1909 and is essentially rooted in Anabaptist, Pietist and Wesleyan traditions. Though currently it is more of a non-denominational institution, these traditions are still honoured till date.
Located in Grantham, Pennsylvania, this college has 5 schools:
- School of Business, Education and Social Sciences
- School of the Arts
- School of Science
- School of Engineering and Health
- School of the Humanities
Post graduates too have a wide range of subject and course choices with their total offerings exceeding 80 majors and pre-professional programs. The college offers both campus programs as well as online courses. It is ideal for students who need to balance academic and family.
One of the largest liberal arts institute, the Spring Arbor University is an Evangelical, Christian University with a 140 year old tradition. Situated in the state of Michigan, it has been instrumental in bringing about unique academic experience. Affiliated with the Free Methodist Church, it seeks to introduce a comprehensive learning process that also looks at providing value based ethical and behavioural upliftment of the students.
The college offers a range of 95 majors and academic programs. They also have 15 sites and a significant number of learning centres across Michigan and Ohio. According to the U.S. News & World Report, the University ranked amongst the top tier Midwestern Regional Universities consecutively in 2010 and 2011.
Students in the University are encouraged to practice Christian principles in their daily lives and nurture strong community feeling. The average annual cost of education while pursuing any program hovers close to $17,000.
The Harding University is situated in a sprawling 350 acres property in Searcy, Arkansas and was founded in 1924. Their objective combines providing quality education with a disciplines life approach in accordance with the Christian principles.
With a strength exceeding 6000 students, the university boasts of women majority student composition. The 15:1 student teacher ratio, most classes have less than 20 students and excellent freshman retention rate at 81%. The US News and World Report has ranked Harding University 22 amongst Southern Regional Universities. The other key features include:
- It has an average academic score of 65
- The average financial aid amounts to $9108
- Overall cost of pursuing an academic course on an average hovers around $15,000
The ORU or the Oral Roberts University is another interdenominational Christian academic centre. With a student to faculty ratio of 15:1 and 96% scholarship/financial aid, ORU doesn’t just strive to provide you with quality education but a learning methodology that touches your heart and soul. A strong international outreach program is another of its strong points with their branches in 65 countries world over.
With 18 programs available across undergraduate and graduate courses, the University also has a high acceptance rate.
The Missouri Baptist University is among the most affordable Baptists affiliated liberal arts establishment in US. With a huge database of information and extensive resource pool, MBU specialized in creating an ambiance that nurtures a student’s external as well as inner spiritual development.
Programs like chapel services, campus ministries and mission trips help in inculcating true Christian beliefs and practices in their day to day schedule. Students get a huge range of platforms, openings and avenues to explore their skill sets and hone their latent talent. s
Gordon College is located in Wenham, Massachusetts, a small town just north of Boston. This liberal arts college teaches more than just facts and figures. Rather, the program integrates academics and faith, with the ultimate goal of turning the student into a well-rounded person with a strong moral center.
To that end, instruction at GC has five components: academic community, the use of mentors, emphasis on moral development, emphasis on professional development and mastery of the tools of learning. These five tenets are incorporated into all of the 38 majors and 41 concentrations offered at the school, as well as the two graduate tracks in Education and Music. GC emphasizes that the student can’t learn about the world unless they’re directly exposed to as much of it as possible, which is why they offer many global opportunities.
The LeTourneau University was founded by R.G. LeTourneau in 1947 specially to provide a comprehensive academic atmosphere for the GIs returning from the world war. Drawing heavily from the military training, this institute sought to creating an academic module which stressed on hands on learning and specialised in the instruction based teaching module.
The engineering and aeronautical science degree programs offered by The LeTourneau University is considered to be among the best in the country. Students have a range of 90 courses and the University has a comfortable 15:1 student teacher ratio.
Founded in the world war era, the Fresno Pacific University was initiated by the Pacific District Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches in 1944, it has been established in California’s Central Valley Region.
With average course cost ranging between $15000-16000, there are 4 schools under the FPU umbrella with a range of 60 academic programs. It has been recognized as one of the top 10 Hispanic Serving Institutions by the Chronicle of Higher Education. The University also has the highest four year graduation rate in the entire area and the US News & World Report ranks it as a top tier establishment in that category. The strong religious roots also foster perceptible strength boosting, character building and spiritual advancement of the students.
Affiliated to the Christian Reformed Church in North America, the Calvin College is located amidst the Grand Rapids in a 400 acre campus. With a wide range of course offerings from education, business, engineering to Spanish, social work, psychology and lot others, the students in this college are also introduced to reformed theological position. It ingrains a fundamentally strong cultural base for students and makes them overall confident about their professional and social endeavors. The regular Chapel Services give students a sense of belonging while at the same time the high quality educational modules makes them among the best equipped graduates in the country.
The university receives 99% scholarship/grant aid and boasts of a commendable 86% return after freshman year.
The Abilene Christian University or the ACU was founded in 1906 and is affiliated with the Churches of Christ. The primary objective of this centre of academic excellence is providing quality education to students and making them capable of every kind of leadership platforms and Christian services.
With over 100 years off legacy in unmatched educational opportunities guided by a distinctly definitive religious grounding, the ACU is one of the largest US organizations that still requires daily chapel attendance and a compulsory Bible course for students.
A very selective acceptance approach of merely 49%, it has a very high retention ratio too. The course range 125 academic programs with more than 25 graduate degree programs and one doctoral program as well.
The U.S. News & World Report has marked ACU as one of the most promising upcoming university in Western US.
One of the jewels of Washington, the Whitworth University has its roots dating back to 1890. Affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, it is a Christian liberal arts college and a true representation of its motto, “Education of Mind and Heart”.
Not just a strong spiritual grounding, Whitworth also boasts of an excellent academic repertoire and instils a sense of complete autonomy amongst the on-campus students. The University has 10 residence halls, each one of these hold town hall-style meetings to decide academic rules for a given year.
The establishment also has enough opportunities for students to de-stress from the regular academic pressure and challenges of measuring up to the demands of the time.
Bryan College is a liberal arts establishment which was formulated post the Scopes Trial in 1925. One of the prosecuting attorneys in the Scopes Trial, William Jennings Bryan, expressed a wish that schools need to teach the truth from Biblical perspective. Needless to mention Bryan College has been in the forefront carrying on the wish in every possible manner and as effectively as conceptualized.
With an average net cost of education at $15,258, Bryan College is situated just 35 minutes towards the north from Chattanooga. It driving mantra’ Christ Above All’ can be sensed through the length and breadth of the establishment and is well manifested by the students and teachers alike.
The next in our list is another Christian College specializing in liberal arts but a relatively smaller one in terms of reach and size.
The Covenant College is set amidst the breathtaking Lookout Mountain, Georgia current. It was founded in Pasadena, California in 1955 by the Bible Presbyterian Church. The beautiful picturesque setting and the diligent and devotional Bible based teaching sets apart this institute from many of its peers.
The academic endeavors of this institute is grounded in rich Biblical traditions and seeks to instil a sense of strong spiritual backing to their daily practical problems that we come face to face with.
The next one in our list is an ancient Lutheran Liberal Arts University, established in 1869. Yes we are speaking about the Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota. An education institution par excellence, the faith and value system of the Lutheran Church comprises of the University’s core component.
A comfortable student-teacher ratio at 15:1 and a total strength exceeding 3400 students, Augsburg College ranks 23 in the US News and World Report listings for Midwestern Regional Universities.
The University also holds the record of 98% full time undergraduate students receiving financial aid. It has an academic reputation score of 62. The average financial outgo is about $18,322.
The Union University has the rare distinction of being on e of the oldest academic institutions that is associated with the Southern Baptist Faith. Started in 1823, this is also one of the oldest academic centres in Southern US. While the main campus is located in Jackson Tennessee, it has two affiliate campuses in Hendersonville and Germantown.
A Christ-focus centre of education, Union University is driven by its commitment towards academic brilliance with a distinct future-centric course module that is designed keeping in mind the student’s convenience and their overall betterment.
There are opportunities galore for ministries both on and off campus as well. Given the location, the University also boasts of a strong and pronounced Greek life and encourages a huge number of student led organization that helps them develop leadership skills.
Ranked Number 5 in our list, the Westmont College also figures prominently in the US News and World Report. For the year 2013, it was ranked at #90 in a list of the several liberal arts college dotting the country.
The quality and extensive experience of the faculty member alongwith the low student-teacher ratio enables effective dissemination of information and constructive coursework targeted at future brilliance.
Aspirants get to choose from a range of 26 majors and 11 pre-professional programs that gives them a definitive edge in the overall career roadmap and helps them transition their fortunes in an effective and systematic manner.
Located in Santa Barbara, California, this academic establishment provides an opportunity for meaningful exchange of ideas and student experience both on the local as well as the global platform. The on-campus student life is very vibrant with a wide range of opportunities for the students to keep them both busy as well as offer key training for future brilliance.
Another Baptists, Liberal arts college, Louisiana College was founded in 1906. Their academic module is designed to provide meaningful armory to the students to face the multiple challenges and leadership opportunities with aplomb.
There are 10 academic divisions within the liberal-arts scenario and have over 70 pre-professional and major programs. Along with a strong academic layout, their programs are very well geared towards meaningful spiritual development as well. They create a comprehensive structure that balances leadership development with community service and physical well-being.
The College of the Ozarks by far has the most interesting criterion for admission in this entire list. Almost 90% of their entire class strength needs to show absolute financial need in order to gain access. As the respective courses kick of their sessions, students start working 15 hours a week in any of the campus program like museum, clinic or school library. All these jobs are all part of the scholarships and grants that covers the overall tuition expenditure.
The Number#2 rank goes to Pepperdine University. It is affiliated with the Churches of Christ and by far has one of the most beautiful campus. Overlooking the breathtaking Malibu beaches, Pepperdine University was founded in 1937. The founding father, George Pepperdine believed that as a Christian it was a primary responsibility to use his money for the betterment of the society. Based on those noble values, this prestigious institute was established which brought a balanced academic and spiritual experience.
The final one and the top ranking college in our list of the 20 top Christian Colleges in US is the Valparaiso University in Indiana. It is the largest independent Lutheran university in the United States and offers a range of 70 course programs for its 3000 plus students annually.
This centre of academic excellence also plays a crucial role in helping students develop a distinct personal vocation coupled with a decided sense of community well being. They have comfortable 14:1 student-teacher ratio and most classes have less than 20 students as a result of which students get the opportunity as well as the platform for a meaningful interaction with the faculty member and a better grasp of the intrinsic academic purpose. The US News and World Report ranks Valparaiso University as Number 5 amongst the Midwestern Regional Universities consistently essentially based on the unique bridge it seeks to achieve between the need for strong spiritual backing and constructive academic achievement.
Academic reputation score: 86
Average financial aid: $19,904
Average net price: $21,534
Average starting salary: PayScale.com