While choosing to enroll in a Christian college or university is not necessarily the first choice for all students, opting for a religious college experience can be surprisingly fulfilling and rewarding for reasons you might not initially consider.
Thousands of students enroll in Christian colleges in the United States each year, and it looks like the numbers are only continuing to increase over time. If choosing a college with a strong religious background is important to you, check out the top Christian colleges featured here. If you think you might prefer a secular college experience more, just browse our full directory of accredited online colleges to find the school that best suits your needs.
Christian colleges provide students coming from a firm religious background the unique opportunity to build their faith while at the same time interacting with others sharing similar beliefs. Many individuals argue that students enrolled in religious degree programs graduate with a more developed ability to face and overcome life challenges with a greater feeling of drive and meaning. Nonreligious students also sometimes choose to attend a religious college because of other advantages offered in these distinct educational environments.
Advantages of Going to a Christian College
The goal of many Christian colleges is to make sure students have the opportunity to confidently and freely practice their faith on a daily basis. For students coming from a strong religious upbringing, pursuing a Christian education allows them to be surrounded by others of the same background and belief system, in turn reducing the likelihood of dealing with outside stress and distractions. Even those unfamiliar with a religious environment will sometimes opt for a Christian school for other available benefits. Some nonreligious students choose to attend a Christian or religious college because of the mature and responsible atmosphere often found in these smaller, more intimate education settings. Because Christian universities are typically smaller than most public or state schools, class sizes are also smaller. This means that will ultimately receive more face time and individualized instruction from your professors, thus improving your overall learning experience. Be warned, though: most Christian universities incorporate religious beliefs and history into at least some aspect of the curriculum. If you might feel uncomfortable or uninterested in taking religious courses due to your own belief systems, a secular college experience might be better suited to you.
Student Life at Christian Colleges
The student culture at some Christian universities can range from being devoutly religious in nature to almost secular, so first you should consider how religious you actually want your education to be. Do you want to attend a college that will specifically help you learn more about your own denomination’s beliefs? Or, on the other hand, would you simply like to attend a school that maintains a strong moral background and expects a certain responsibility and maturity from its student body? If you want a lot of religion in your education, your best bet is probably attending a small, private college where you will be able to develop more intimate relationships with students and professors. If you’re less interested in receiving an intensely religious experience but still want some of the perks, opt for a larger university or even an online college.
Whether your college experience ends up being mostly secular or religious, the bottom line is that college is supposed to be fun and fulfilling. The same holds true for life at a Christian college, though student life is obviously very different at a Christian university than it is at a notorious party school. Many students specifically choose a Christian university in order to avoid peer pressure to engage in activities contrary to a more conservative religious lifestyle. While wild parties are harder to find on the campus of a Christian university, most Christian colleges offer a wide variety of extra-curricular activities specifically designed to engage students in meaningful and positive interactions with one another.
Different Types of Christian Colleges
There are many different types of Christian colleges out there: large and small, near and far. In general, a Christian college is either sponsored by a specific Christian organization or based on Christian principles that specifically cater to Christian students wanting to incorporate religious education into their general college studies. Typically private and non-profit, these institutions may be directly affiliated with a particular church, parish, or diocese. Many Christian schools strive to offer incoming students with a welcoming, warm environment, allowing them to foster strong relationships with staff and fellow classmates based on their shared Christian values. Since students are expected to worship on at least a weekly basis, most Christian colleges have a church located directly on campus. Some large schools have the means to offer students multiple places to worship.
Not all Christian schools are the same. They can range from small intimate institutions to large Christian universities, with every school offering a variety of degree programs. Catholic and Jesuit schools are perhaps the most popular and active denomination in the realm of Christian education, with many top-rated private high schools and colleges affiliated with this particular Christian group. For example, St. Francis University Online, Gonzaga University, Loyola University, and Grace University are all popular Christian colleges based in the Catholic belief system. While these schools are founded on a Catholic background, students from a variety of different backgrounds and belief systems are accepted into these diverse Christian environments. Christian colleges do not discriminate based on religious beliefs, but if you decide to attend a Christian school, expect to complete courses in religious history as part of the core curriculum.
Popular Degree Programs at Christian Colleges
Just like traditional secular universities, most Christian schools offer college degrees at the associate, bachelorâ€™s, masterâ€™s, and doctorate level. Some incorporate a religious aspect to their curriculum and instruction, while others work from lesson plans teaching students specifically about Christianity and the Bible. A popular misconception about Christian colleges is that all you will learn about is the Bible if you enroll there. Students at Christian universities can choose to study a variety of subjects, not just the Bible. For example, Liberty University holds not only the title as the world’s largest Christian college, but also shares the reputation of being a top accredited online college overall. While Liberty University Online was founded in the Southern Baptist tradition and offers some specifically religious degree programs, most of their coursework and degree programs are very similar if not identical to that found at a typical secular university.
Here are some popular examples of Religious Degree Programs and courses that you can take at most Christian colleges:
- Theological Studies
- Theology and Apologetics
- Bible Studies
- Church Ministries
- Christian Counseling
- Pastoral Counseling
- Worship Studies
- Missional Studies
- Professional Ministries
- Pastoral Ministries
- Outdoor Ministry
- Religious Education
If you’re looking for a more balanced college experience, consider taking some of these courses with other more traditional coursework to graduate with a well-rounded education. Also, consider doing a double major by combining a religious degree program with a secular one to learn more about your faith and your future profession at the same time.
Now what? The next step is easy!
Take the first step towards a Christian college education today by browsing our large database of free information about the best Christian colleges, or simply look below to find more top-rated Christian colleges!