The Top 20 Online Christian Colleges

online christian collegesEducation is shifting. Computer screens supplant 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 to serve this changing student profile.

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 access and flexibility of online education. The following Christian colleges and universities are very Christian, educationally solid, and committed to online learning.

christian online collegesThe 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.

The Christian colleges grading criteria revolve around three components: (1) the Christian character of the school; (2) academic prestige; and, of course, (3) the extent and quality of their online programs.

Telling signs of a good candidate online Christian college include full accreditation, low student-to-teacher ratio (less than 20:1), confessional status (i.e., teachers/students are required to sign a Christian doctrinal statement), “anytime access” lecture archives, around-the-clock technical support, affordability, variety of degree options, 100% online degree programs, and other factors.

* * *

Top 20 Online Christian Colleges:

liberty university online1. Liberty University Online (Lynchburg, VA)

Liberty University takes top honors in the top online Christian colleges list for several reasons, including variety, cost, Christian integrity, and ease of access.

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 $495 per class for dual-credit and $250–570 per credit hour for undergraduate through doctoral classes.

Click here for free information about
Liberty University Online!!

Top 20 Online Christian Colleges:

regent university2. Regent University (Virginia Beach, VA)

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.

Regent, a Christian college, keeps the costs low ($395 per hour) and the quality high. Regent 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 56 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 10 years of experience in online education.

Top 20 Online Christian Colleges:

colorado christian university3. Colorado Christian University (Lakewood, CO)

Taking top online honors—and general honors elsewhere—Colorado Christian University (CCU) comes in third here.

This rare gem in the Colorado Rockies offers fewer degree options (46)—and higher tuition rate ($427 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.

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 fundy, 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.

Click here for free information about
Colorado Christian University!

Top 20 Online Christian Colleges:

LeTourneau University4. LeTourneau University (Longview, TX)

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, this school’s prestige program is its online offerings.

With a 94% employment rate for graduates, flexible scheduling, and ease of entry, LeTourneau is a smart practical choice for adults and non-traditional students. Of special note are the Master’s degrees in Psychology and in Leadershi and Business Administration, as well as the Bachelor’s of Business and Business Management. But these are just a sampling of the 38 degree tracks the Christian university provides online.

The classes are one-at-a-time, about six-weeks long, featuring anytime-access curriculum mirroring the traditional classroom courses. Students can earn dual-credit (high school), associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s Degrees.

Costs vary according to the program, dropping as low as $120 and $210 per credit hour for dual-credit and remedial classes. While the highest price is $815 per hour for master’s level engineering classes, most classes are $350 to $445 per credit hour—some of the lowest on this list.

As for Christian standing, LTU is interdenominational and bible-based (read “Protestant”). The emphasis is not on professional missions or ministry per se, but rather vocational training from a Christian perspective.

Top 20 Online Christian Colleges:

california baptist university5. California Baptist University (Riverside, CA)

Just east of Los Angeles, in Riverside, is California Baptist University (CBU). Entering the Online Educational ranks recently in 2010, CBU has already earned a spot in U.S. News & World Report’s list of top online Schools at #25.

California Baptist University is an affordable Southern Baptist standout. Through its impressive 10 departments, CBU offers 26 online B.A. options, eight Master’s, and two certificate programs, but no doctoral programs yet.

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.

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.

Class size is capped at 25 students, but the student/teacher ratio never exceeds 25:1.

California Baptist University has a rolling application deadline. The cost is mid-range, at $479 per credit hour.

This up-and-comer promises to expand and diversify even further in the coming years.

Top 20 Online Christian Colleges:

university of st. francis6. University of St. Francis (Joliet, IL)

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, over 120 online courses, and more than 1,500 students, University of St. Francis is one of the largest online schools in Illinois.

While it’s about average-sized among top online schools; what it lacks in breadth, it makes up for in depth.

St. Francis features rolling application for admission and financial aid, class credits for work experience (up to 33 credit hours), anytime access lecture archives, 12:1 student-to-teacher ratio, and bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs. The 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, though, at $564 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, thus making the student body and teaching staff more religiously diverse than some denominationally stouter Christian schools.

Top 20 Online Christian Colleges:

saint leo university7. Saint Leo University (St. Leo, FL)

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.

How do they do it? Well, Saint Leo is unapologetically Catholic (Benedictine), but open to students of all denominational backgrounds.

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.

In just the online programs, Saint Leo University offers three associate’s degrees, 14 bachelor’s degrees, 22 master’s degrees, one doctoral degree, and eight certifications. Saint Leo is also one of the top schools for military students.

Costs range from affordable to pricey, at $395 (per credit hour) for most master’s courses, $470 for bachelor’s courses, and a moderately pricey $630 for the  MBA.

Students can expect Christian values and a broadly Christian worldview among the professors, but not necessarily an evangelical or conservative leaning.

Click here for free information about
Saint Leo University!

Top 20 Online Christian Colleges:

dallas baptist university8. Dallas Baptist University (Dallas, TX)

Nestled beside Mountain Creek Lake in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas is the regional standout, Dallas Baptist University (DBU).

DBU lists three undergraduate certifications, 20 graduate certifications, three associate’s degrees, 17 bachelor’s degrees, and an astounding 58 master’s degrees (separately counting accelerated tracks, dual master’s programs, and concentrations). 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 a competitive 43.7% acceptance rate.

Classes here are not cheap, at $775–785 per credit hour, yet the sizable student body—1,800 online students—attests to the per-dollar quality of a DBU education.

The classes follow a 4-1-4 semester schedule of classes (4 fall/4 spring/one January), with small class sizes (15:1 student/teacher ratio), and a “guided” curriculum model. (Note: 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.)

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.

Top 20 Online Christian Colleges:

benedictine university9. Benedictine University (Lisle, IL)

Another Roman Catholic entry to the list is Benedictine University. Though touting its authentic Benedictine heritage, this Roman Catholic school is not “preachy” or fundamentalist, but neither is it secularized or ashamed of its heritage.

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 force to be reckoned with.

Having entered the online educational world in 2010, the program is impressive in spite of its youth. Benedictine features 18 graduate degrees, one doctoral degree (in Education), four certificate degrees, one associate’s degree (in Business Administration), and two bachelor’s degrees (in Management and in Organizational Leadership).

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.

Classes feature anytime-access archives and 24/7 tech support; pricing starts at $488 per credit hour (undergraduate). Maximum class size is 20.

Benedictine’s strategy so far has been to establish a strong core of the “big three” degree programs: Business, Education, and Nursing. Should Benedictine expand their degree offerings and improve their outside rankings for the “big three” degree programs, expect it to rise in the ranks here.

Top 20 Online Christian Colleges:

grand canyon university10. Grand Canyon University (Phoenix, AZ)

Among southwestern schools, online acclaim has typically gone to another school headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. However, ranked #63 overall for online bachelor’s programs, Grand Canyon University—a private, interdenominational Christian college—is a worthy rival.

Grand Canyon University (GCU) is distinguished from many other online colleges both by its full-time faculty (a big difference when it comes to teacher availability and instruction) and its Christian emphasis.

GCU is mission-minded, with community outreach projects, student mission trips, and “serve the city” day.

Make no mistake, though, this is not 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.

The Christian university 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.

Click here for free information about
Grand Canyon University!

Top 20 Online Christian Colleges:

union university11. Union University (Jackson, TN)

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 tolerant of 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 limited degree offerings online. The Christian university has five fully-online graduate programs covering three fields: Christian Studies, Education, and Nursing. The last one, Nursing, is the main attraction among graduate programs. Besides these, several fully-online certificates are available, many undergraduate courses can be found online, and three doctoral programs are mostly online. Should these options broaden and deepen 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. Tuition is substantial, hovering around $880 per credit hour (undergrad) in the Spring and Fall, or $600 for the Winter or Summer.

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.

Top 20 Online Christian Colleges:

biola university12. Biola University (La Mirada, CA)

Biola Univerity, one of the best schools in the world for Christian worldview and apologetics training, enters this list at #12. Biola University—including her adjoining seminary, Talbot School of Theology—is a recent entry to the online world, but her outstanding reputation precedes her.

Biola university offers several certificates and 11 degree options through three schools: Arts & Sciences, Education, and Intercultural Studies. Their premier degree offering is the M.A. in Apologetics.

Biola University is an excellent option for missions and ministry–minded students, such as educators, pastors, and missionaries. The Christian university features a respectable 16:1 student/teacher ratio, extensive accreditation, and a diverse student body.

There are two application deadlines (July 1 and December 1). Classes are five-week intensives (not self-paced).

The Christian standing and academic prestige are a rare combination, so it’s no surprise that tuition is pricey. Most classes fall in the $519–$582 per credit hour range, though doctoral hours can cost as much as $962 per credit hour.

Expect Biola Univiersity to rise sharply in rank if they can get the cost down and expand their online offerings to include blue-collar and business majors like nursing, medicine, law, or business.

Top 20 Online Christian Colleges:

george fox university13. George Fox University (Portland, OR)

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 brings an open Christian tone to its academic offerings. GFU features four master’s tracks: MBA, Counseling, Education, and Seminary. The same are offered at the doctoral level, with Physical Therapy added, and Psychology in place of Counseling.

Several undergraduate courses are available online, but, as of yet, there is no primarily-online bachelor’s degrees. There is, however, a B.A. in Online Management and Organizational leadership. This hybrid option (termed “cohort” model) is a 16-month, 13-class, online fast-track which supplements a general core or associate’s degree. One perk of this program is incoming students all receive a complementary iPad.

Credit-hour costs vary, starting at low as $487. 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, 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.

Top 20 Online Christian Colleges:

saint mary's college california14. Saint Mary’s College of California (Moraga, CA)

Online students might miss the elegant campus of Saint Mary’s College, but they can still enjoy 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.

Degrees here do not come cheap—about $6,000 per quarter, or $778 per credit hour—but neither are they as expensive as comparably prestigious schools.

The Catholic university offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees online through a 4-1-4 academic calendar (the two semesters and one “January term”).

As far as the Christian culture of St. Mary’s, think “diversity” and “inclusiveness,” but Catholic at its base.

Top 20 Online Christian Colleges:

gardner webb university15. Gardner-Webb University (Boiling Springs, NC)

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.

Gardner-Webb University is “Baptist-related,” but don’t expect the denominational-emphasis of a Liberty University or the Christian worldview training of Biola.

GW’s online program mirrors the on-campus schedule class-for-class. It features 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.

Gardner-Webb University also features 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. Other master’s degree offerings are few and functional, including International Business, Nursing, and Accounting. Business certifications are also available.

The costs are some of the lowest on the list, at $373–394 per credit hour for M.A. and M.S. degrees. The MBA is $440 per credit hour.

Top 20 Online Christian Colleges:

marylhurst university16. Marylhurst University (Marylhurst, OR)

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.

Click here for free information about
Marylhurst University!

Top 20 Online Christian Colleges:

charelston southern university17. Charleston Southern University (Charleston, SC)

Not to be forgotten is the low-country Carolina campus, Charleston Southern University (CSU). This gem of the southeast coast offers an affordable and nationally recognized online MBA program.

This Southern Baptist school is confessional, requiring all faculty to sign a Christian doctrinal statement.

Besides the MBA program, CSU also sports fully accredited online bachelor’s degrees in Nursing, Education, Technology, and a bevy of Human Resource tracks.

The Charleston Southern University master’s degree options include Organizational Management, Education, Nursing, and Criminal Justice.

The cost is reasonably priced, at $490 a credit hour (undergraduate) and $460–625 (graduate).

Top 20 Online Christian Colleges:

toccoa falls college18. Toccoa Falls College (Toccoa Falls, GA)

Ranked #49 by U.S. News & World Report for its Best Online Bachelor’s 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 Ministry Leadership, Non-profit Business Administration, Organizational Leadership, and Youth Ministry.

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.

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).

Top 20 Online Christian Colleges:

abilene christian university19. Abilene Christian University (Abilene, TX)

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, seven–eight-week-long classes, one or two classes at a time.

A proud 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 excellent 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 $675–775 per credit hour.

Click here for free information about
Abilene Christian University!

Top 20 Online Christian Colleges:

trinity university20. Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL)

Completing this list is a school well recognized for its global-Christian culture. Trinity International University (TIU) features three fully-online bachelor’s degrees: Business, Psychology, and Christian Ministries.

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? Classes start at a meager $365 per credit hour.

Trinity International University is well-recognized within Christian circles, and is a solid option for ministry-minded students or future seminarians. The degree options however are limited, and one should not expect the same ease of access that can be found at schools with more established online programs.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Reddit
  • Tumblr

Degree Finder