A Closer Look At Faith-Based Education and Degrees

If you’re interested in attending a Christian college, you have a ton of options to choose from. These colleges come in all shapes and sizes, and can offer a variety of religious and non-religious degree programs.

Students can choose to attend a physical or online Christian college, and there are grants and scholarships that you can apply for to help you with tuition costs. Online Christian colleges, like most other online colleges, provide more scheduling flexibility than students would have if they were to take classes at a college campus. This can be a great solution for those with families and/or are also working while pursuing higher education. Most online Christian colleges also have similar religious aspects that they’re brick and mortar counterparts offer as well.

Pursuing a degree at a Christian college can be a great way to help you earn more and advance your career. You can read through this guide to learn more about Christian colleges, or click on a link below to jump to that specific topic.

Typical Degree Programs at Christian Colleges

Christian colleges are similar to other colleges and universities in that they can offer degrees at the associate, baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral level. Some also offer certification programs that you can earn either in addition to or in lieu of a degree, depending on the subject.

You may think that a Christian college will only offer religious-based degrees, but that is simply not true. Most Christian colleges offer a wide range of degrees, including ones you would find at a non-Christian/non-religious school. In this case, non-religious degrees may still have religion/faith as part of the curriculum, and we will discuss the roles religion plays at Christian colleges later on in this guide. Some non-religious degrees typically offered at Christian colleges include:

  • Business: Pursuing a business degree allows you to take classes like marketing, economics, management, finance, and consumer behavior. This degree can prepare you for a variety of working environments, from Fortune 500 companies to working as an entrepreneur.
  • Media: With a media degree, you can learn more about what goes into film production, like editing, cinematography, and screen writing. You can also learn more about photography, graphic design, and the history of performance and visual arts.
  • Education: There are several types of education degrees that you can pursue, particularly at the graduate and doctoral level. Many Christian colleges offer education degrees such as elementary education, learning technologies, teaching styles, and special education.
  • Biology: This degree gives you the opportunity to learn about the biological sciences, like zoology, cell biology, genetics, ecology, and botany. Most bachelor-degree biology programs are designed to prepare you to continue your studies, since you will likely need a masters or doctorate degree to have a career in this field.
  • Psychology: Similar to biology, you will need a masters in psychology to work as a counselor or a doctorate degree to work as a psychologist or psychiatrist. While a master’s and doctorate program will cover these topics more in-depth, you can take classes at the baccalaureate level in social psychology, abnormal psychology, addiction, neuroscience, and more.

Like any other college or university, the type and subject of degrees offered at Christian colleges varies from school to school. Even if two different Christian colleges offer degrees in the same subject, it is still important to compare those two programs to see which ones fit best with you and your career goals.

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Exploring Your Religious Degree Options

You have a plethora of majors to choose from by attending a Christian college, possibly even more options than if you were to attend a non-religious affiliated school, simply because they may not have the faith-based degrees that Christian colleges usually offer.

The chart below lists common undergraduate degree options available at most Christian colleges, and includes a few classes you can expect to take along with the careers that each degree can prepare you for. If you want to continue your education beyond a bachelor’s degree, many of these majors can also prepare you for graduate or seminary school.

Degree Subject Degree Description Required Classes Possible Careers
Biblical Studies The goal is typically to teach students how to fully and contextually understand the Bible, and use that knowledge to address challenges that Christianity and/or the church may be facing.
  • Old Testament
  • New Testament
  • Hermeneutics
  • Historical Geography
  • Christian Doctrine
  • Christian Educator
  • Pastor or Chaplain
  • Para-church Ministries
  • Social Service
  • Missionary
Christian/Ministry Leadership Students can learn about leadership and management skills for both a religious and non-religious setting, and how to incorporate their beliefs into their management style.
  • Non-Profit Management
  • Communicating Biblical Truths
  • Christian Ethics
  • History of Ecclesiology/Polity
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Pastoral Leadership
  • Non-Profit Organizations
  • Communications
  • Business Management
  • Missionary
Music and Worship This degree can help you understand music theory, allowing you to compose your own music. You may also learn how to incorporate faith with music, and plan a show for different Christian audiences and events from intimate services to larger concerts.
  • Planning Contemporary Services
  • Worship Leadership
  • Conducting
  • Music Theory
  • Voice/Musical Instrument (student choice typically)
  • Contemporary Christian Artist
  • Worship and Missions Director
  • Choir Director
  • Worship Musician
  • Christian Music Educator
*Psychology – Christian Counseling Students may learn about the history of psychology, different theoretical orientations, and the latest DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). You can learn how to present psychological therapies and treatments from a spiritual perspective to help future patients.
  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology and Christianity
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Counseling Theories
  • Lifespan Development
  • Psychologist or Psychiatrist (with a doctoral degree)
  • Church/Christian Counselor (with a master’s degree)
  • Child Development
  • Social Services
  • Non-Profit Organizations
Religious Studies This degree is usually meant to teach students how to compare, contrast, and think critically about a variety of religions in their historical, cultural, and social contexts.
  • Islamic Thought and Literature
  • Rituals, Symbols, and Myths
  • Approaches to Studying Religion
  • The Bible and Archeology
  • Non-Western Religions
  • Teacher/Professor (with graduate degree)
  • Social Services
  • Pastor or Chaplain
  • Communications
  • Missionary
Theology You can learn how to interpret and dissect the Bible and Christian doctrine, and some theology degree programs allow you to concentrate in biblical archaeology. Students can use this biblical foundation to think critically about modern-day issues.
  • Intro to Christian Theology
  • Foundational Issues in Apologetics
  • Modern Theology
  • Old and New Testament Archaeology
  • World Religions
  • Pastor or Chaplain
  • Christian Educator
  • Missionary
  • Biblical Translator
  • Archaeologist
Youth Ministries This degree aims to teach you how to communicate religious and spiritual topics in relevant, interesting ways to younger audiences. You can learn how to plan lessons and activities for a variety of settings, from weekly youth groups to retreats and summer camps.
  • Youth Ministry Topics
  • Youth Ministry Management
  • Contemporary Youth Ethics
  • Strategies for Student Outreach
  • Retreat Ministries
  • Youth Pastor
  • Christian Educator
  • Missionary
  • Youth Camp Director
  • Church Administrator


*You may have noticed that getting a psychology degree is listed under the religious and non-religious degree sections. This is because some schools (especially at the graduate level) give students the option to pursue a concentration within psychology. Should you decide to earn a psychology degree, you may be able to specialize in Christian counseling, or a traditionally non-religious branch of psychology like psychodynamic or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

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Are there online Christian colleges?

Earning a college degree is one thing, but to earn a degree from an accredited institution whose focus on Christian values is as important as the academics is often times more fulfilling. Much like their non-Christian counterparts, Christian colleges may offer classes online. In many cases, you can earn your entire degree online. The following are accredited online Christian colleges in the United States, offering a variety of degrees in many different fields.

SchoolDescription
Liberty University
Liberty University

Accreditation
  • SACS

Liberty University is an private, non-profit university in Lynchburg, Virginia and is the largest Christian university in the world. Liberty has one of the largest and most robust collections of degrees with over 140 undergraduate and graduate programs offered on campus or online. Join 11,900 students enrolled on campus or more than 100,000 students enrolled online.

Indiana Wesleyan University
Indiana Wesleyan University

Accreditation
  • HLC
  • NCA

Indiana Wesleyan University teaches leadership, encourages spiritual development, and prepares students to communicate Christian values to the world as pastors, counselors, missionaries, teachers, worship leaders and coaches. They offer several online programs in religous studies like divinity, ministry, religion, and seminary studies as well as other fields of study such as education, business, and public administration.

Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University

Accreditation
  • HLC
  • NCA

Grand Canyon University in Arizona is a private Christian university, regionally accredited, and has over 75,000 students currently enrolled at the campus or online. GCU offers online and campus-based degrees in Business, Education, Nursing and Health Sciences, Liberal Arts and Fine Arts and Production. While it is a Christian college, its focus is primarily on encouraging moral choices and teaching students to become ethical global citizens.

Saint Leo University
Saint Leo University

Accreditation
  • SACS

Saint Leo University is a private, Roman Catholic university located in the namesake city in Florida. The Saint Leo educational network consists of three schools: the School of Business, the School of Arts & Sciences, and the School of Education & Social Services. Join almost 20,000 other students through one of St Leo’s campus or online programs in business, education, criminal justice, and more.

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What role does religion play at a Christian college?

There isn’t just one type of Christian college, or just one way for a Christian college to “be.” As you do your research, you’ll find that Christian colleges exist on a spectrum, from faith and religion being an integral part of the college culture, to only mentioning it in their mission statement and virtually nowhere else.

With the former example, faith and religion will likely play a significant role in your experience at that school. Even if you are planning on attending an online Christian college, you can still have access to (and may be encouraged to participate in) missions, community outreach programs, clubs, chapel/church services, etc. through social media, message boards and forums, blogs, and live video streaming.

Colleges with a heavy Christian culture often incorporate it into the overall curriculum. For example, if you are an engineering major, you may still be required to take several religious classes in order to complete your degree. Also, you may find that pastors, chaplains, priests, nuns, etc. may also be part of the faculty, and teach classes.

In the latter example, some students may not even be aware that a school technically considers themselves to be a Christian college because of how sparingly it is mentioned. While there may still be more opportunities for spiritual engagement at these types of Christian colleges than at secular colleges, it will probably not be as well promoted as a school with a more noticeable Christian atmosphere.

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Can anyone attend a Christian college?

For the most part, your transcripts, letters of recommendation, application essays, and previous GPA (high school and/or any other colleges), are what will play the largest roles in getting accepted into a Christian college. Generally speaking, Christian colleges accept students regardless of their personal faith. Some of these schools do have a code of conduct that they expect the students to live by, and they may ask students to sign the code of conduct as part of the school’s admission process.

To get a better idea of what Christian colleges are like, our school spotlights explore some noteworthy universities, giving you greater insight into their standards and ethics, facilities, and program offerings. These spotlights can help you gain a better understanding of how each school’s values align with your own.

  • Liberty University is an independent, Christian university in Lynchburg, Virginia, and is the largest Christian university in the world with over 36,000 students enrolled online.
  • Indiana Wesleyan University, located in Marion, Indiana, has a student/faculty ratio of about 15:1, and as an affiliate of the Wesleyan church, they place a strong emphasis on Christ-like behavior and Christian values.
  • Grand Canyon University is a private Christian university with over 60,000 online students attending classes from across the globe, as well as multiple campuses in Phoenix and Scottsdale Arizona, and a campus in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • Saint Leo University is a Catholic, liberal arts school with a 15:1 student-teacher ratio, and has education centers in California, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia, with the main campus in Saint Leo, Florida.

Christian colleges allow you to pursue religious and non-religious studies, and start your career with a spiritual foundation. Check out the rest of our website to learn more about the application process and what you can do at a Christian college.

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