Education is shifting. Computer screens are supplanting classrooms. YouTube and Skype dominate lecture circuits. Not only can you go to class in your pajamas, you might not need to get out of bed.
Meanwhile, student demands are as steep as ever. Schools need to be low cost, high quality, easy access, and give “cash-value” results. A tough job market and competitive global economy have pressed colleges into serving this changing student populace.
In this setting, online education is fast replacing traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms, providing Christian colleges with a golden opportunity to fuse faith-integrated learning with the flexibility of online education. The following Christian colleges and universities are very Christian, educationally solid, and committed to online learning.
The list of online Christian colleges is gathered from multiple sites, including U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, OnlineChristianColleges, Christian Colleges.com, Onlineeducation.net, and Best and Worst Online Degree Providers.
Online Christian Colleges Ranking GuidelinesThese schools are ranked according to three grading criteria:
- The overall Christian character of the school
How well does this school measure up in terms of its overall Christian character? Telling signs of a good Christian school include full accreditation with the relevant theological accreditation agencies (regional and national), an active and productive campus ministry presence, confessional status (i.e., teachers are required to sign a Christian doctrinal statement), and also a good record of religious liberty for Christians and traditional Christian values.
- The quality of their online program
For the online component we should consider whether the school has “anytime access” lecture archives, around-the-clock technical support, affordability, variety of degree options, 100% online degree programs.
- Academic prestige
Academic prestige includes things like name recognition, academically exclusive admission standards, accreditation status, and low student-to-teacher ratio (less than 20:1), the graduation rate, future admission rates into advanced programs, and hiring rate of recent graduates.
Overall, the effort is to identify helpful indicators that the school is sincerely Christian in their culture, academic in their studies, as well as a legitimate online option.
Top 30 Online Christian Colleges
Founded in 1971 by outspoken baptist Pastor Jerry Falwell, Liberty University has risen to nation-wide notoriety as a Christian college of distinction.
Liberty University takes top honors among online Christian college list for several reasons including variety, cost, Christian integrity, and ease of access. Liberty is perhaps the most widely recognized name in online Christian education.
Liberty carries a strong reputation for online learning in a conservative evangelical setting. As America’s largest, private, nonprofit university, Liberty offers 160 fully accredited programs spanning certificates, high school classes (home school and dual-credit), associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, and other postgraduate studies.
Courses range from 8 to 17 weeks, together with multiple enrollment dates, allowing great flexibility. Students can supplement their online work with Intensives—one-week-long classes for non-resident students to experience “resident” life at LU.
Also offered are innovative “Experiential Learning Credits,” where work experience can count as credit hours, to hasten graduation for the time-pressed professional. Students can also benefit from the Online Communities program designed to help online students stay spiritually connected and nourished in the course of their study.
Liberty is affordable, with classes starting at $390 per credit hour (for full-time online undergraduates) and topping out at $650 per credit hour for Doctoral nursing classes. Tuition rates decline for full-time students (about 15%) and for military students (about 55%).
2 Regent University
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Non-denominational conservative Christian powerhouse, Regent University, has climbed to the top of several lists for online education.
They are ranked tenth best overall in “Best and Worst Online Degree Programs,” tenth for Online Bachelor’s Programs, and #43 for Online Graduate Programs, by U.S. News & World Report. Compared to only Christian Colleges, Regent’s online program is second only to Liberty (#1).
Regent, a Christian college, keeps the costs low and the quality high. Undergraduates pay between $295 and 395 per hour. Certificate students pay between $200 and $330 per hour. Graduate degrees are a bit pricier and vary by department, costing $495 per hour up through the elite (and rare) online Doctorate in Jurisprudence (JD) which is $1100 per credit hour. Most graduate courses are between $550-650 an hour. Regent also features a Blackboard™-based “anytime” access lecture archive, so students can plan their studies around work and family. However, the 30:1 student-to-teacher ratio could be better.
The university features seven schools of study: Business & Leadership; Arts & Sciences; Communication & the Arts; Divinity; Education; Government; and Psychology & Counseling—for a total of 128 degree tracks. The Christian college offers certifications, associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree options.
Founded by Pat Robertson, Regent has always been a hot spot for the “Moral Majority” and the “Christian Coalition.” As such, Regent is known for its government and leadership degrees, but is also nationally ranked in business and education degrees. And of course, they serve the whole gamut of liberal arts options. Regent is relatively young for a university (founded in 1978), but while most online programs elsewhere are only a few years old, Regent has been pushing the envelope with 20 years of experience in online education.
Among southwestern schools, online acclaim has typically gone to another school headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. However, Grand Canyon University (GCU) has risen in the ranks. This private, interdenominational, NCAA-Division 1 Christian college, enrolls almost 20,000 residents students and almost 60,000 online.
GCU’s Christian character shows through in their mission-mindset including with community outreach projects, student mission trips, and “serve the city” day.
Make no mistake, though, this is not just some Bible school or a “beefed-up” seminary. Vocational ministers would do well to consider Biola, Liberty, or Regent, since GCU’s emphasis on career training focuses on different strengths—in nursing, education, and business. These are supplemented with still other degree options in health sciences, pre-med, performing arts, digital design, psychology and counseling, theology, and liberal arts.
GCU features anytime access log-in and lecture archives, together with 24/7 live-chat support. The school also offers an impressive 100+ degree programs to choose from.
Classes are eight-weeks long, many fulfilling four credit hours (instead of the typical three), offered one at a time. Fewer and meatier classes mean quicker degree tracks of comparable substance.
Besides bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs, high schoolers (with participating high schools) can take dual-credit classes, while adults can utilize adult education, continuing education, evening, and hybrid classes to create the perfect educational fit.
What’s the cost? Classes start at $350 per credit hour, but average between $435 and $550. Military may qualify for a discount rate of $250 per credit hour.
4 Colorado Christian University
This rare gem in the Colorado Rockies offers fewer degree options (46)—and higher tuition rate (starting at $495 per credit hour)—than Liberty or Regent. Still, CCU outclasses many competitors with its “anytime access” online classes, “cohort model” communities, and a 9:1 student to faculty ratio. CCU is a strong option because they understand some of the unique challenges that online students face. The cohort model retains community in the classroom so students share together, work together, and learn together.
CCU features a generous class credit system. CCU accepts most transfer credits from other schools, and accepts “life experience” credits for adult and non-traditional students who may have mastered a subject outside the classroom. CCU also adapts to fully online, or hybrid style programs–part online, part classroom. With 9 different extension and partner campuses (all in Colorado), students have many residency options in the Colorado area.
As for faith-based learning, Colorado Christian University is a Protestant, non-denominational school affirming biblical inerrancy, the Trinity, the Resurrection, and all the evangelical staples. Colorado Christian University only hires Christian faculty; but lest one think it’s cliquish or fundamentalist, it was recently featured on the Dennis Prager show, where Prager—himself Jewish—was impressed with its students and faculty saying: “CCU teaches values that undergird the American Value System.”
Promoting a living faith among its students, the online Christian university also offers scholarships to “Worldchangers” and accolades to Christian Activists.
CCU is genuine, Christian, online, education.
Founded by inventor, businessman, and devout Christian R.G. LeTourneau in Longview Texas in 1946, LeTourneau was originally intended as a vocational school for returning veterans of WWII. By, 1989 the school had become a coeducational non-denominational Christian liberal arts university. But the school maintained it’s strengths of practical Christian service and engineer training. Over it’s history LeTourneau University (LTU) has earned wide acclaim for its high-quality, low-cost online programming. Awarded “Best Buy,” “Top School,” “Best Online College,” and “Smart Choice” honors at different sites, this school’s prestige program is its online offerings.
LeTourneau’s distinctive feature is their accessibility for adult and non-traditional students. Even before launching their online program the school was already catering to students who had day jobs. LTU features easy-entry and flexible work-friendly scheduling so students can keep their day job while taking night classes; or utilize anytime- access online classes and reserve their class work for off hours. It’s no wonder that LeTourneau has a reputation as a practical choice for employees seeking career advancement. Of course, this strategy helps Letourneau maintain an impressive 94% employment rate for graduates.
LeTourneau is well known for their engineering and aviation programs. But, their online course offerings expand their programming into 30 different study tracks including bachelor’s degrees in business, criminal justice, and biblical studies and masters degrees in psychology, strategic leadership, and business management, as well as the Bachelor’s of Business Administration and Business Management. The classes are one-at-a-time, about six-weeks long, featuring anytime-access curriculum mirroring the traditional classroom courses. Students can also earn dual-credit (high school), associates, bachelors, or masters degrees through LTU.
Costs vary according to the program, dropping as low as $255 per credit hour for dual-credit classes while the highest price is $910 per hour for master’s level engineering classes. Most classes however are very affordable at $355 to $475 per credit hour. Most of the online degrees are 100% online, but some are hybrids (part online, part resident). LTU’s flexible scheduling and affordability, along with their rare specialties in aviation and engineering keep them high on this list.
6 University of St. Francis
University of St. Francis, a Roman Catholic liberal arts school, has been faithfully Franciscan for almost 100 years, becoming a powerhouse in Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report rankings.
Ranked 28th in online B.A. Programs, with 15 years’ experience, St. Francis brings some academic prestige into their online programming. St. Francis features 120 online courses, 46 degree tracks, and more than 13,902 students.
The class size is 16.5:1 student-teacher ratio. The online classes feature the same syllabus, assignments and content as the resident classes. Online students also have anytime access to lecture archives in the master’s and doctoral programs. St. Francis does not however feature 24/7 access to tutoring or help desk, but faculty can be reached by phone, email, or chat and the school’s online help desk is available during normal business hours 365 days a year.
St. Francis features rolling application for admission and financial aid, and students can receive class credits for work experience (up to 33 credit hours). Thsi Christian university offers degree specialties in Business Administration, Health Care, Organizational Leadership, Education, Management, Nursing, and Social Work.
St. Francis has become a premier adult education option: The average student age is 39. Credits are not cheap. Adult undergraduate class run from $599-620 per credit hour. And the masters and doctoral classes are $680-798 per credit hour.
Also, non-Catholic and politically conservative students should be aware that this school is Christian, but not conservative, and is on this list more for its academic prestige than for its Christian culture. While University of St. Francis is proudly Catholic, neither teachers nor students are required to sign confessional statements. So classes may be taught by non-Catholics and non-Christians.
Saint Leo, Florida
Another U.S. News & World Report contender (#53 online B.A.; #67 overall regionally) is central Florida standout, Saint Leo University. Elsewhere, Saint Leo ranks second for online Christian schools. Founded in 1889 and based in St. Leo Florida, this Benedictine Catholic institution has grown to a hefty enrollment of almost 15,000 students
How do they do it? Well, Saint Leo is Catholic but open to all denominational and non-religious backgrounds; they offer more than forty teaching locations through their extension campuses in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, California, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. These extension offices make St. Leo a great option for hybrid study tracks (part online, part resident). One of the largest Catholic colleges in the country, Saint Leo University sports a variety of options for its diverse student body. Online students at Saint Leo can expect the same rigorous studies as in the classroom, since courses are designed to give an identical education whether on campus or on your couch.
St. Leo features 3 departments: (1) Business, (2) Arts and Sciences, and (3) Education and Social Services. While St. Leo offers students some rare study tracks, like students can earn a bachelor’s or masters degree in cybersecurity, the school’s primary tracks appear to be business administration and education.
In just the online programs, Saint Leo University offers 3 associate’s degrees, 14 bachelor’s degrees, 22 master’s degrees, 1 doctoral degree, and 8 certifications. Saint Leo is also one of the top options for military students. Military students can expect $250 per credit hour for bachelors courses and $535 for MBA credit hours. Other students pay between $500 and $900 per credit hour with the average class costing about $650 per credit hour.
Students at St. Leo can expect Christian values and a broadly Christian worldview among most professors, but should not expect the conservative evangelical distinctives of, for example, Liberty or Regent.
8 Dallas Baptist University
Nestled beside Mountain Creek Lake in south Dallas is the regional standout, Dallas Baptist University (DBU). DBU lists a total of 104 different online study tracks including 20 different certificates, 4 associates degrees, 16 bachelors degrees, 39 masters degrees, 15 accelerated bachelor-plus-master degree tracks, and 10 double masters tracks. Students can sample from 100% online degree tracks or mingle online and on-campus classes in a hybrid program.
DBU is not just accessible, it’s respectable, boasting a 92% student completion rate on top of an elite 43.7% acceptance rate. The online classes follow a 4-1-4 semester schedule of classes (4 fall/one January/4 spring), with medium to small class sizes (15:1 student/teacher ratio), and a “guided” curriculum model. Be aware that this is not “self-guided,” move-at-your-own-pace coursework; classes may involve group collaboration, timed exams and quizzes, and “windows” for accessing certain required materials. However, students never have to “log-in” at a certain time, so there is still plenty of flexibility.
Classes here are not cheap, at $846-866 per credit hour. Yet the sizable student body—1,800 online students—attests to the per-dollar quality of a DBU education.
DBU is very baptist, with a bevy of campus ministries, weekly chapels, and monthly forums constantly pushing for deeper faith and learning. Dallas Baptist University online students can expect classes to be saturated with the same Christian principles and framed by a Christian worldview. This is a faith-integrated education.
9 California Baptist University
Just east of Los Angeles, in Riverside, is California Baptist University (CBU). Founded in 1950 by the California Baptist Convention, the school requires all faculty to sign a confessional statement. CBU entered the Online educational ranks only recently, in 2010. But they have already awards from U.S. News & World Report’s for their Bachelor’s, Graduate, and MBA programs.
CBU has an impressive array of 10 departments, offering 22 online bachelor’s degrees, 14 master’s, and 2 doctoral programs.The business degree is the most popular program, by far (76% of online students). Master’s students can choose the fast-track option, a 16-month program with concentrated, full-time class work and a prompt graduation. CBU also accepts transfer credits generously,
Students enrolled in CBU’s online studies—termed OPS (Online Professional Studies)—utilize Blackboard, Telepresence, and Webex. OPS also offers “anytime-access” archives of class materials. Classes are capped at 25 students, so the student/teacher ratio never exceeds 25:1. Classes last 8 weeks, and students can choose between hybrid classes, or hybrid programs with CBU resident courses, or they can transfer courses from another resident classes. Students can also utilize the career center for things like career counseling, drafting resumes, and job applications. And they have ready access to 24/7 online tutoring as well as faculty support online and through office hours. CBU understands “customer service.” The major drawback with CBU and all California schools on the list, is California educational standards do not allow schools to offer 100% online degree programs. So all CBU online degrees have a residency component.
California Baptist University has a rolling application deadline. The cost is moderately pricey at $547-659 per credit hour in undergrad, and $563-828 for graduate credits, and $875 per credit hour for doctoral classes. CBU may be new to the field but, with their student-friendly service and growing notoriety, this up-and-comer promises good things in the future.
Another Roman Catholic entry to the list is Benedictine University (BU). Though touting an authentic Benedictine heritage, this Roman Catholic school is not “preachy” or fundamentalist, but neither is it secularized or ashamed of its heritage. BU emphasizes the intellectual tradition and social teaching of the Benedictine monastic tradition.
U.S. News & World Report recognizes Benedictine University for its online bachelor’s programs, and its graduate programs in Business, Education, and Nursing. In short, Benedictine is a heavyweight in the “big three” online programs–the highest demand online degrees (business, education, and nursing). Should Benedictine expand their degree offerings and improve their rankings outside of the “big three” degree programs, expect it to rise in the ranks here.
Benedictine entered the online educational world in 2010, but despite it’s youth the online program is impressive. Benedictine features 16 study tracks not counting hybrid programs: 2 bachelor’s degrees, 5 master’s degrees, 4 double-master’s degrees, and 5 graduate certificates. Aspiring students should also be aware that the online program is not a pure “liberal arts” track, but rather is vocation-driven, adding practical value to your resume. Most students, so far, are adults or currently employed.
Maximum class size is 20. Classes feature anytime-access archives and 24/7 tech support. And the cost is moderately expensive at $600-685 per credit hour, except for the Doctoral classes which are $1,040 per credit hour. Also, all military personnel can recieve a 10% tuition discount for any classes.
11 Ohio Christian University
Ohio Christian University (OHU) began in 1948 as a churches of Christ school. Originally named “Circleville Bible College” the school aimed to equip upcoming pastors and missionaries for ministry. Since then the school has vastly expanded their enrollment (4,000 students), their class offerings, their campuses, and their aims, but they maintain the same “church of Christ”affiliation evident in their mission, vision, and their statement of faith. One point of interest is that OHU is a non-profit corporation, meaning they can maintain their ministry aims while keeping their costs low.
OHU features 59 fully-online study tracks including 14 certificates, 8 associates degrees, 26 bachelor’s degrees, and 11 graduate degrees. OHU, so far, has no doctoral degrees online.
Classes are also available in hybrid formats, a more viable option than with most school’s since OHU has 18 separate extension campuses where students can take resident courses. Online classes are designed to mirror the resident classes, except they are offered one at a time and students have 24/7 classroom access online. Classes are small, at 10:1 student teacher ratio. Students can also incorporate transfer credits from their high school dual-credit program through OHU’s “Trailblazer academy.” Students as young as 7th grade can be earning college and high school credits transferrable to OHU.
OHU boasts regional and national accreditation and the pricing at OHU is very competitive. Liberal arts classes are some of the least expensive credits on the list at $198 per credit hour. But most graduate courses are closer to the MBA price of $525 per credit hour. Also, a military friendly school, OHU features a discount rate for military and former military at $250 per credit hour.
The affordability, ease of access, and variety of options make this Christian university a strong option for aspiring online students.
12 Biola University
La Mirada, California
Founded in 1908, Biola was originally an acronym for the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (B.I.O.L.A.). In 1952 the school added Talbot Theological Seminary. And by 1981 they changed their name to Biola University. Today Biola University is one of the best schools in the world for Christian worldview and apologetics training. Biola enters this list at #12 because, despite their outstanding reputation among Christian universities, Biola is only a recent entry to the online world and their limited variety of programs all require a residency component (according to California state law).
Biola offers 26 study tracks for primarily online students: 3 bachelors degrees, 16 masters degrees, and 7 certificates. These are spread across three schools: Arts & Sciences, Education, and Intercultural Studies. Biola’s seminary, Talbot, offers even more degree options including 2 doctoral tracks (hybrid programs). And of course, any resident coursework can be adapted into a hybrid program by inserting online classes or following a planned hybrid-program track. Biola’s premier degree offering is the M.A. in Apologetics.
Biola is an excellent option for ministry-minded students, such as educators, pastors, and missionaries. Biola features a respectable 16:1 student/teacher ratio, extensive accreditation, and a diverse student body. While Biola does not have a rolling admission, they have two applications deadlines, July 1 and December 1. Classes are five-week intensives (not self-paced). Also, Biola, along with all other California schools, does not offer “fully online” classes. Every degree program includes a residency component. For most Biola courses, this means 1-week summer residency matched with 5 week self-directed online study.
The Christian standing and academic prestige are a rare combination, so it’s no surprise that tuition is pricey. Most classes cost $592 per credit hour range, though doctoral hours are more expensive at $1097 per credit hour. Biola has the potential to rise sharply in rank if they can include more blue-collar and business majors like nursing, medicine, law, or an MBA.
13 Gardner-Webb University
Boiling Springs, North Carolina
The stellar online education degrees at Gardner-Webb University (GW) put this North Carolina school on this best online Christian university short list.
U.S. News & World Report ranks GW #29 in their list of online education programs, and #72 in Online Business Programs.
GW features 12 online masters degrees spanning the “big three” (education, business, and nursing) as well as English, and less common sports education. Along with these options is the hybrid “Goal-Degree Completion Program,” where up to 60 credit hours can be earned online towards completion of an undergraduate degree or turning an associate’s degree into a bachelor’s.
GW’s online program mirrors the on-campus schedule class-for-class. Classes are small at 13:1 student-teacher ratio. And they feature a Blackboard™-based, anytime access lecture archive, so students can fit school into the rest of life. Nearby nursing students, can enjoy GW’s hybrid post-doctoral Nursing degree with online coursework and low residency requirements.
The costs are reasonable starting at $422 per credit hour for most degree-completion classes and $468 for elementary education, and $725 for the accelerated B.S. nursing courses. Online graduate degree rates vary by departments. The MBA costs $525 per credit hour while all the other departments charge $429-483 per credit hour.
Also, bear in mind that Gardner-Webb University is “Baptist-related,” but don’t expect the denominational-emphasis of a Liberty University or the Christian worldview training of Biola.
14 Charleston Southern University
Charleston, South Carolina
Not to be forgotten is the low-country Carolina campus, Charleston Southern University (CSU). Enrolling 3,650 students, CSU is the largest baptist university in South Carolina. This gem of the southeast coast showcases an affordable and nationally recognized online MBA program. This Southern Baptist school is confessional, requiring all faculty to sign a Christian doctrinal statement. But students are not required to sign it.
CSU features 7 online bachelor’s programs and 10 online master’s degrees including their acclaimed MBA program, as well as nursing, and education degrees. CSU also features online degrees tracks in computer technology, analytics, and criminal justice. CSU is also popular in the region for their nursing program, which partners well with the Medical University of South Carolina.
Still another rare and speical degree offering from CSU is their bachelor of science in hospitality and tourism management. This program dovetails nicely with Culinary Institute of Charleston.
Programs range, by department, between fully-online and hybrid style. The cost is reasonably priced, at $490 a credit hour (undergraduate) and $500-625 (graduate).
Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU), based in Marion, Indiana, is an award winning evangelical Christian liberal arts university affiliated with the Wesleyan-Methodist tradition. IWU traces its roots back to 1920 when the school was known as Marion college. The student body and faculty favor a conservative Christian outlook, as witnessed by the Christian seminary on campus (Wesley Seminary), and by the “Society of World Changers” a mission-minded campus organization with such luminary inductees as James Dobson, Tony Dungy, Ben Carson, and Joni Earickson Tada.
The university enrolls more than 14,000 students—the largest private university in Indiana—and offers over 90 online degree programs, well suited for traditional and non-traditional students whether they favor 100% online, hybrid, or traditional classroom learning.
IWU’s online degree and certificate programs are identical to their onsite counterparts, but with the added flexibility and convenience of an asynchronous schedule, allowing students to access online course materials anytime. Class sizes are capped in order to ensure a more personal and intimate learning experience. The student-teacher ratio is a modest 14:1. IWU is fully accredited regionally, nationally, and by department. They feature a rolling admission date, and accept about 95% of applicants. The cost of attendance varies by department. For example, classes towards a Masters of Business administration are $560 per credit hour, but a Masters of Arts in Finance is $536 per credit hour.
IWU also features rolling Admissions, no admissions deadline, and a generous acceptance rate of 95%
16 Trinity International University
Nestled in Deerfield, IL about 40 miles from Wheaton College, is Trinity International University a highly regarded Christian university noted for it’s global-Christian culture, missions, ethics, and worldview training.
TIU offers 4 online schools: the College, Graduate School, Seminary, and Law School. Each of these schools offers fully-online and hybrid degree programs. The online college offers 4 bachelor’s degrees, the graduate school has 2 degrees, the seminary offers 3, and the law school offers 5 law degrees (bioethics, human rights, non-profits, human resource management, and church ministry). In the online education world, it is rare to find a fully online law degree, from a Christian perspective.
All of TIU’s degrees incorporate a general education core, which, besides liberal arts classes, features courses like “Foundation of Christian Thinking and Living,” “Critical Thinking and Writing,” and “New Testament and Old Testament Foundations.”
Courses are six-week-long modules, typically three credit hours, sequential (one at a time), for up to 10 modules per year. And to diversify options, the Christian university can intersperse online and resident classes sampling from their different campuses: Deerfield and South Chicago (both Illinois), Florida, and Southern California. The adjoining seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, offers distance education options as well.
The price? Undergraduate classes are $365 per credit hour with a $150, per course, fee. All online graduate classes are $625 per credit hour except the law classes, which are $750 per credit hour.
Trinity International University is well-recognized within Christian circles, and is a solid option for ministry-minded students, law students, and future seminarians. The degree options however are still somewhat limited, and one should not expect the same ease of access that can be found at schools with more established online programs.
An official “Best Value” school, and “Best in the West” regional favorite in west Texas is Abilene Christian University (ACU).
ACU is noted for its master’s programs in Human Resource Development and Conflict Resolution. But the Christian university also offers several educational master’s degrees and graduate level certifications.
ACU’s online master’s program employs a trimester schedule of three terms per year, 7-8 week-long classes, one or two classes at a time.
Aproud member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, ACU affiliates with the Churches of Christ and it shows. Resident students regularly participate in summer, winter, and spring break missions.
Students interested in social work or education should look seriously into Abilene Christian University. This tech-savvy school has won the “Innovator of the Year” award and the “Dynamic Enterprise Award” for its ConnectEd technology summits, and for allotting Apple iPhones to all incoming freshman. The student-to teacher-ratio is an solid 14:1.
The Christian university offers online summer courses for undergrads, but complete bachelor’s degrees have a residency requirement (on-campus classes). Only master’s degrees can be completed online, keeping Abilene University low on this list, while its tech savvy status and excellent value keep it in the running.
Though the classes give a lot of “bang for your buck,” they still take a lot of bucks. Costs vary from about $675 to $775 per credit hour.
18 Houston Baptist University
Houston Baptist University (HBU) is a seasoned mid-level liberal arts denominational school located in Houston Texas. HBU has risen in the ranks of Christian colleges due to their impressive humanities and apologetics programs.
This notoriety is, in many way, a tribute to their President Robert Sloan (formerly of Baylor University). Under his leadership HBU acquired Dr. John Mark Reynolds from Biola University. Reynolds had done a masterful job organizing the Torrey Honors institute (an undergraduate classical/great books program) at Biola before coming to head up the Masters of Apologetics program at HBU. Reynolds wasted no time in hiring some accomplished apologists and scholars like Michael Licona, Nancy Pearcy, Bruce Gordon, Jerry Walls, Holly Ordway, Mary Joe Sharp and others. Visiting scholars include William Lane Craig and Lee Strobel. John Mark Reynolds has since moved on to other pursuits entrusting the department chair to the literary apologist Dr. Philip Tallon.
HBU’s strengths seem to be their apologetics program and their Honor’s college which emphasizes classical learning, great books, and the humanities. Though HBU is denominationally Baptist, the faculty cover a range of different denominational backgrounds.
Among HBU’s online offerings are 8 bachelor’s programs spanning nursing, business, psychology, and bible-theology. There are 17 online master’s programs to choose from. Among these include their apologetics degree which is fast becoming the most recognized apologetics program in the southwest.
All HBU online programs feature anytime access curriculum, and 100% online programming, with the exception of two master’s counseling degrees which have a residency component. The cost is affordable ranging, per credit hour, from $395 (undergrad) to $550 (graduate)
19 Bethel University
Arden Hills, Minnesota
Bethel University draws its Christian roots from their Scandinavian Baptist heritage and their current affiliation with Converge Worldwide (the Baptist General Convention). The school began in Chicago as Baptist Union Theological Seminary before migrating to St. Paul, MN merging with a Christian high school, and becoming Bethel College and Seminary. By 2004 the school had expanded their graduate offerings (beyond just seminary degrees) and became Bethel University.
Bethel is known today for its Baptist Seminary and its School for Executive Leadership. It is a regular standout in national rankings by Forbes and U.S. News & World Report. The school also places a high priority on diversity and intercultural engagement.
Their study tracks are many and diverse. Out of 100+ degree tracks at the school, 32 are available entirely online. Their online course offerings are divided between graduate school, adult undergraduate, and seminary. Traditional undergraduate students are still encouraged to pursue conventional degree tracks (resident status).
While the seminary addresses ministry degrees, the online graduate school focuses on teaching, nursing, and business administration. The adult undergraduate track features 14 degree options spanning leadership, nursing, ministry & human services (i.e., social work), finance, and information systems. The adult education track is designed for people who have already 60 hours of undergraduate work, and depending on which degree track, these studies may have a residency requirement.
Classes cost from $400 to $750 per credit hour, amounting to a modest total cost of about $30,000 per year. Bethel University is also one of the larger schools on the list, at 6,400 students (graduate and undergraduate).
Founded in 1883, in Jackson Mississippi, Belhaven University first began as a Presbyterian women’s college but has since evolved into a coeducational, non-denominational, NCAA division III, Christian liberal arts university with six different campuses (Jackson, MS; Orlando, FL; Memphis, TN; Houston, TX; Chattanooga, TN; and Atlanta, GA).
Belhaven has been featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education as well as the U.S. News & World Report for being one of “best online education programs” and “best value colleges.” What makes Belhaven so special?
Belhaven is a great combination of affordability, variety, and user-friendly programming. Classes range in cost from $370 per credit hour (for undergraduate courses) up through $540 for graduate certificate credits. Military students however qualify for a steep discount bringing the cost down to $250-350 per credit hour. Students can choose from 37 online study tracks, among these are 3 Associates degrees, 9 bachelor’s degrees, 7 certificates/certifications, 1 doctoral degree (in educational leadership), and the rest are masters degrees.
The online program features 24/7 online support. Classes runs on 8-week terms. And all online degrees are fully online (no residency requirements). Students can however apply for adult education classes where students attend class one night a week at any of Bellhaven’s six campuses. The scheduling is designed for adults and working professionals. For students in or near a Bellhaven Campus, the adult-education option is an attractive choice so students can have a personal touch in their classroom experience.
21 Johnson University
Johnson University was founded in Knoxville Tennessee in 1893 for the purpose of training upcoming ministers for the mission field. A broadly evangelical institution, their original name was “School of the Evangelists” and they affiliated with the Churches of Christ. Later, the school changed their name as their course offerings expanded into vocational and ministry fields beyond evangelism. They became “Johnson Bible College” and later, “Johnson University,” commemorating the school’s founder, Ashley B. Johnson. While still affiliated with the Churches of Christ, their faculty and student body are multi-denominational.
Today, Johnson university is a small-to-mid sized Christian liberal arts school with 1,315 students across their undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs. Johnson has two brick-and-mortar campuses, the main campus in Knoxville, TN and another campus in Kissimmee, Florida added in 2011. Johnson’s online campus is about 300 strong and growing. On top of their full and online campuses, Johnson University features five extension campuses (shared facilities with other institutions) for their ExtendEd adult and alternative education programs in Indianapolis, IN, Knoxville, TN, Louisville, KY, Phoenix, AZ, and Orlando FL. The extension campuses enable students to make personal contact with teachers and staff, or utilize residency classes as needed.
The school maintains their Christian identity with a non-sectarian statement of faith, regular chapel services for resident students, and an established reputation as a ministry training center. Among their online programs students can choose between 3 associates degrees, 6 bachelors degrees, 9 graduate certificates, 3 master’s degrees, or a PhD in Leadership studies. Classes follow a 7-week intensive model, so master’s students can complete their degree in as little as 15 months.
The cost is a very affordable $400 per credit hour for most classes, with some graduate classes like the PhD in leadership costing as high as $575 per credit hour. The class size is 14:1, student to teacher ratio. And their online program and extension programs are still fairly new, so there are other schools on this list with more experienced and established online programs. Nevertheless, the affordability, degree options, and the faith and mission of Johnson University make this school a strong option for prospective online students.
22 Luther Rice College and Seminary
Located in the Metro Atlanta Georgia area is the evangelical non-denominational Luther Rice College and Seminary (LRCS). Many schools on this list earned notoriety as traditional, brick-and-mortar, campuses with traditional classrooms and campuses. But LRCS followed a different track. Being a young school, founded in Jacksonville, FL in 1961, and first acquiring property in 1968 before, eventually, transferring to the Atlanta GA area in 1992, Luther Rice was a small school unknown to the world. Luther Rice only began earning some notoriety when they entered into online education 12 years ago (in 2005) when online learning had not yet caught on.
That early leap into online education has paid off. Their online program today is fairly advanced, with Luther Rice offering all resident degrees tracks also 100% online with the lone exception being the doctorate of ministry degree. It has a residency requirement of a one-week intensive course.
Luther Rice is somewhat limited in their course offerings as it’s basically a bible school and seminary. There are only 10 degree tracks to choose from. Luther Rice features adequate accreditation for a Bible School (ABHE) and Seminary (TRACS), but not for the higher-tiered liberal arts universities. In this way, Luther Rice is well suited for ministry minded students. But even here, they offer some diversity that other programs don’t have. Students can opt for different length courses at 8, 11, or 15 week study tracks. The course content is the same in each track, but students either take a long, medium, or short time to cover the material.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of a Luther Rice degree is affordability. The cost per credit hour is a bargain at $270 per credit hour. LRCS is one of the least expensive accredited schools you can choose. Luther Rice has much in common with Toccoa Falls College (see below) and Columbia International University (see below), but ranks above these schools because of better variety in degree options, better pricing, and by keeping all their degrees available in resident or online form.
23 Eastern University
St. Davids, Pennsylvania
Affiliated with the American Baptists Churches of America, Eastern University (EU) is a coeducational, comprehensive, Christian university emphasizing, “faith, reason, and justice.” Located in St. Davids, PA, Eastern has earned acclaim as an award-winning option for adult and non-traditional students.
One of the major reasons for their success is their student-friendly online programming which features 7-week courses, and “fast track” curriculum for motivated students to finish in half the time.
As with many schools, EU offers business degrees, nursing, and education options—as those are the most common requests in adult education. But EU stands out among the rest for their exceptional leadership training—an important skill across different vocations. Altogether, EU offers 24 study tracks, mostly for graduate degrees and certifications. Of those 24 options, there are 4 bachelor’s degrees: B.A. in Organizational Leadership, B.S. in Business management, B.S. in Nursing, and B.A. in Youth Ministry). And there is one associates degree option: A.A. Liberal arts.
EU also features the rare PhD option. Interested students can choose between two, fully online, PhD programs: PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and PhD in Organizational Leadership.
Classes are moderately priced at $555 per credit hour.
24 Franciscan University of Steubenville
This Franciscan-Catholic schools was founded in 1946 amid post-WWII optimism in southeast Ohio, not far from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. There in the city of Steubenville the Franciscan University of Steubenville (FUS) hosted its first classes with 258 students. Up until about 1974 the school was somewhat nominal religiously, but under new leadership beginning in 1974 the school began taking a strong stand regarding their Catholic and specifically Franciscan identity. They feature weekly chapels (for resident student), a bioethics center, a great books program, and a central focus on faith and reason. The campus even features a Vatican-approved pilgrimage landmark the Portiuncula Chapel.
FUS’s academic laurels trace largely to their great books program, which is essentially the core curriculum for all resident undergraduates. From there, resident undergraduate students can choose between more than 40 different degree tracks. Their online options, however, take a different route. Rather than compete with their impressive great books program, FUS offers only 6 online degree options, two associates degrees (theology and philosophy) and four masters degrees (Catechetics and Evangelization, Theology and Christian Ministry, Business Administration, and Science in Education).
Besides the two associate’s degree which are 2-year/60 credit hours degree tracks, FUS offers no other online options for undergraduates. So, students pursuing a 4-year degree will either need to transfer their associates degree into a different school (and not every school will accept those transfer credits), or the student would have to get an additional bachelor’s degree. In theory, this strategy may direct student traffic into their bachelor’s program, and away from their online program. But time will tell if FUS simply expands into a broader online options as they gain experience and staff in online education.
FUS offers their classes at a low to mid-level cost of $440 to $500 per credit hour.
25 Union University
Nestled in Jackson, Tennessee, is the regionally acclaimed Union University. Having won awards from U.S. News & World Report as a “Regional University” and an “Up-and-Coming School” and for its “Online Graduate Nursing” degree—as well as acclaim from Princeton Review, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Templeton Foundation—Union is a real contender.
Union University is proudly Christian, but humbly receptive to different Christian camps despite its Southern Baptist heritage (founded in 1823, it is the oldest Southern Baptist university in the nation).
Despite such wide acclaim, Union University sits relatively low on this list because of its high price ($880 per credit hour, undergraduate) and somewhat limited degree offerings online. The Christian university has nine fully-online programs: 2 Bachelor’s degrees (organizational Leadership, and nursing), 5 master’s degrees (MBA, christian studies, education, art education, and nursing), 1 specialist certification (education), and 1 doctoral degree (education). The rest of their online-options are hybrid programs in nursing and education. Nursing, is the main attraction among graduate programs.
Besides these, several fully-online certificates are available, many undergraduate courses can be found online, and the school can accept some online credits towards otherwise “resident” degrees. Should Union broaden and deepen their options in the future, expanding into fully-online graduate mainstays like business, pre-med, pre-law, or engineering, Union could jump rank.
Meanwhile, Union’s program follows a 4-1-4 semester schedule and sports an 11:1 student-faculty ratio. Combined with its awards and strong Christian heritage, Union University is a fine choice, especially for Nursing students, but also for a general “Christian studies” majors.
26 George Fox University
Earning a prestigious spot in Forbes as the third-highest-rated Christian school in the country, the Tier 1 George Fox University (GFU) brings a bounty of prestige and acclaim to its online program.Affiliated with the Evangelical Friends (Quakers), GFU maintains an open Christian tone to its academic offerings. The Online program at GFU is a hybrid model, mixing resident and online components. Resident students can utilize any of the online courses within their traditional program. But, designed online programs feature a brief in-person component followed by the remaining online component.
GFU features 7 master’s tracks: School administration, teaching, education, reading-education, ESOL-education, Special education, divinity. There are 3 doctoral tracks: Ministry, Business, and Education. For undergraduates, there is also a hybrid style 13-course Management and Leadership (Adult-ed) degree. Several undergraduate courses are available online, but, as of yet, there is no primarily-online bachelor’s degrees. This hybrid option (termed “cohort” model) is a 16-month, 13-class, online fast-track which supplements a general core or an associate’s degree.
Only the M.A. In education is fully online. All other programs are hybrid. One perk of this program is incoming students all receive a complementary iPad.
Credit-hour costs vary, starting as low as $505, but most education classes are $646 per credit hour. Doctoral classes can range as high as $872. George Fox University also utilizes the Prior Learning Assessment program, so students can exempt classes which overlap their life experience or informal learning.
While George Fox is an outstanding and prestigious school, and its online program is strong as far as cohort/hybrid models go, it is better thought of as a “distance learning” school rather than offering pure “online” degrees, since online degrees typically require one or two in-residence classes or meetings to complete the program.
27 Toccoa Falls College
Toccoa Falls, Georgia
Ranked #49 by U.S. News & World Report for its best online bachelors program is Toccoa Falls College (TFC).
As an independent, non-profit institution TFC, enters this list through its stellar pricing ($285 per credit hour), online experience (eight years), and its Christian acclaim. TFC affiliates with the Christian Missionary Alliance, and has never strayed from its ministry-minded roots.
This heritage is reflected even in its degree offerings: The Christian college has six degree options and a Bible certificate. The former include associate’s degrees in Business and in General Studies and bachelor’s degrees in inistry leadership, non-profit business administration, organizational leadership, and youth ministry.
The class schedule is a 4-1-4 semester basis. The Christian college is a small school, with a small student body.
Toccoa Falls College has an open enrollment policy (applications may be made at any time of the year), and a good reputation for serving homeschool graduates. Yet, despite the great price and the ministry degree strengths at Toccoa Falls, the school offer only undergraduate programs, and these are limited to ministry and business tracks. These limitations keep the school somewhat low on this list.
Toccoa Falls College is primarily a Bible college, but for ministry-minded students who seek a rare B.A. in Non-profit Business Administration, Toccoa Falls should not be missed.
28 Columbia International University
Columbia, South Carolina
Based in the middle city of South Carolina, Columbia International University (CIU) is a Bible college and seminary with a reputation in the Southeast as a mission-sending center. Originally founded in 1922 by alumni from Moody Bible Institute, CIU remains broadly evangelical and Bible-based. Enrolling 1,100 students CIU is a fairly small school, but they have a wide reach being non-denominational, multi-cultural, and mission-driven.
CIU’s educational philosophy is “to know God, and make Him known.” Under this banner, CIU’s course offerings span just 19 degree tracks for resident students—all ministry and missions related. But their foray into online academics has opened up another 10 degree tracks, fully online.
These 10 online degree tracks, so far, are all Master’s degrees (Master of Arts, Master of Divinity, and Master of Education), and they too are aimed at missions and ministry. However, in the fall of 2017, CIU is launching three Business programs: A.A., B.A., and M.B.A.
Prospective students should be aware that CIU is not a liberal arts school but essentially a Bible school. And their class size isn’t great, 17:1 student-teacher ratio. Plus, the cost per credit hour is about average at $495-550 per credit hour. Yet for ministry and mission aimed students, CIU is a solid option worth considering.
Hidden away in the Pacific Northwest just outside of Portland is the little-known Marylhurst University (MU), a dark horse entry to this list of top online Christian colleges.
To reach non-traditional and adult-education students, MU does not require SAT or ACT scores for incoming students. For this reason, MU is excluded from recognition by the major ranking agencies like U.S. News & World Report. Further challenging this school is its nominally Christian standing—it’s a broadly Catholic school without particular faith requirements of its students or professors.
Offsetting these factors is Marylhurst University’s accelerated MBA program, which is rated #1 in the state by Portland Business Journal. The online program is designed for efficiency and effectiveness, with many students earning their MBA in 18 months.
Moreover, entering undergrads, upon taking a Prior Learning Assessment, may earn up to 45 credit hours, shortening the bachelor’s program to as little as 2 ½ years. The courses are arranged in five-week intensives, offered one at a time, sequentially.
Costs for undergraduate and graduate classes go from inexpensive to pricey, at $437 and $578 per credit hour, respectively.
30 Saint Mary’s College of California
Online students might miss the elegant campus of Saint Mary’s College, but they can still enjoy some of the same classes and credentials from miles away. Rated #24 by U.S. News & World Report, St. Mary’s College of California is a historic, prestigious, and competitive Catholic school, now accessible online.
St. Mary’s began online classes in 2009-2010, but don’t be fooled, because she’s been teaching from the LaSallian Catholic tradition ever since 1863, commanding 150 years of educational experience in the Liberal Arts.
St. Mary’s offers small classes (13:1 student/faculty ratio, average class size of 21), a small (online) student body (less than 100), and anytime access online class archives. This Catholic university offers their online graduate classes through a 4-1-4 academic calendar (two semesters and one “January term”).
Degrees here do not come cheap—about $6,000 per quarter, or $778 per credit hour—but neither are they as expensive as comparable prestigious schools.
As far as the Christian culture of St. Mary’s, think “diversity” and “inclusiveness,” but Catholic at its base. The major drawback for St. Mary’s is that they have only one online degree program, their executive masters of business administration (EMBA), and it’s a hybrid-styled format–a requirement by California state law (prohibiting fully-online programs). Their EMBA however is award winning, and St. Mary’s is prestigious enough to keep them on the list for now. But St. Mary’s will have to expand their options and get their online prices down to keep from getting bumped off the list.