About Christian Colleges and Universities
The first men and women who came to the 'new world' that eventually became the United States came with a particular religious and spiritual vision. Much of the history of higher education in the USA is therefore rooted in Christian teaching and institutions: for instance Harvard, founded in 1636, had as its early motto "For Christ and the Church." Today, enrollment at Christian universities and colleges in the USA continues to be one of the fastest growing sectors in post-secondary education. So what are Christian universities and colleges in the USA all about and what do they have to offer modern students like you?
Christian universities, 4-year and 2-year colleges in the US are private institutions offering bachelor's degrees, associate's degrees and diplomas or certificates. Many often also offer graduate programs and may be linked to seminary studies. The universities offer programs in a number of different disciplines (usually divided into Colleges or Schools) from a Christian perspective, be it non-denominational or church-affiliated. Some colleges, by contrast, specialize in a single academic field, such liberal arts. However, there are also different distinct types of Christian colleges. The term "Christian college" typically refers to Christian liberal arts colleges which offer broad-based studies in arts and humanities from a faith-based perspective. The term "Bible college," on the other hand, is often used to mean an institution of biblical higher education that generally requires more course work in biblical and theological study and has a central focus on vocational ministry preparation. The Bible college movement began in the 19th century and has continued to grow across the US and Canada.
Who goes to Christian universities and colleges in the USA? Apparently lots of people! Just a few years ago, the US Department of Education reported approximately 2 million students represented by the over 900 self-reported religiously affiliated institutions, with most of these schools being Christian universities and colleges. And the number of enrollments seems to keep growing; enrollment at religious-affiliated universities and colleges continues to outpace the enrollment growth of other US higher education institutions.
But not all these students are in one place, of course. Christian universities and colleges in the USA are not only different in terms of their religious affiliation, they also differ in age, location, history, and size. Some schools will have only a few hundred students, while the largest can have up to thirty thousand. And within these campuses you can find quite a lot of religious diversity: some Christian universities and colleges have no faith restrictions in their admission requirements, so that you can have students from 30 to 40 different religious affiliations at one campus! Other schools may only admit students of a particular faith, so it's important to find out the admissions policy of the school that interests you.
What else do you get from Christian universities and colleges? Most Christian universities offer 4-year bachelor's degrees and 2-year associate's degrees in a variety of academic divisions such as Art, Fine Arts, Science, Business Administration, Education, Human Services, Nursing, Information Technology, Social Work, Engineering, Humanities and more. Within each of these Colleges or Schools you will usually find a number of majors to choose from (for example, in a College of Art you can take a degree in fine art, art education, interior design, etc.). Universities may also offer specifically-designed pre-professional programs, such as pre-med, pre-vet, pre-law, etc. Check out our program-specific pages to learn more about what you can expect from the different fields of study at American universities and colleges.
However, some colleges also grant 4-year bachelor's degrees, such as Bachelor of Arts or Science, as well as specialty degrees such as Bachelor of Theology. Most colleges, however, offer 2-year associate's degrees, diplomas and certificates rather than bachelor's degrees. In general, Christian colleges offer both academic courses in the arts and sciences and specialized career training. The credentials granted by Christian colleges take, on average, less time than university degrees. College programs may also be more affordable and can be stepping-stones into universities: a Christian college will often have what's called an "articulation" agreement with a neighbouring university. Articulation means the university agrees to recognize the college's courses as credit towards a university degree. Therefore, if you want to transfer from a Christian college to a university, you may be able to carry-over the credits you've already earned.
A lot about student life at Christian universities and colleges in the USA is what you might expect: a blend of academics, athletics and social life. Christian universities and colleges generally have everything "regular" institutions do and offer a lot of the same degree programs in the usual disciplines and departments. But they also have some aspects that other kinds of schools don't. For instance, many Christian universities and colleges have community service, outreach, internships or study abroad as required components of their programs. The opportunity to participate in practical mission work (both foreign and domestic) is something you just can't get at a non-Christian university or college. Some schools have unique and innovative programs designed to help students explore and develop their intellectual and spiritual lives through non-traditional learning.
So how will you decide? First you have to decide what you're interested in, then you have to find a school that offers it. Other factors like how long you want to spend in school, scholarships, tuition costs, distance from home and possibly church affiliation may also be factors. Schools in the USA's database of Christian universities and colleges in the US can help get you started. Once you've spotted a school that seems to suit your interest, check out their website. The site will tell you what they offer and who to call or contact for more information. Then call or even go visit--don't be shy! This is your education. So take the time to explore to help you get on the right path for your future!
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