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2023 Best Online Christian Colleges

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 10/2/2023
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Online Christian colleges allow students to actively maintain their faith in a community, whether virtual or in person, while pursuing their academic goals. Christian colleges often include religious studies directly in the core curricula or as a matter of its missions and values as an institution. Oftentimes, these schools feature Christian-focused degrees that prepare graduates for roles in the ministry or other religious organizations and nonprofits. Community also plays an important role for those who prefer to attend college with spiritually like-minded individuals. 

View our methodology for more details about our list, which is based on salary score, or learn more about OnlineU. You may also want to check out OnlineU's most affordable Christian colleges if you are on a tight budget. 

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2023 Best Online Christian Colleges

RankSchool Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 Concordia University - Saint Paul 81 81 $44,588
# 2 #2 Southwestern College - KS 80 $52,742
# 3 #3 Crown College 78 $39,612
# 4 #4 St. Catherine University 73 $52,624
# 5 #5 Columbia College - SC 71 $39,693
# 6 #6 Moody Bible Institute 66 $29,312
# 7 #7 Ottawa University Online 66 $42,632
# 8 #8 Saint Leo University Online 66 $40,679
# 9 #9 Columbia College 61 $40,727
# 10 #10 Colorado Christian University 58 $45,245

#1 Concordia University - Saint Paul

  • Salary Score: 81
  • Median Starting Salary: $44,588
  • Locations: Saint Paul (MN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Concordia University - Saint Paul (CSP) is a private, Christian university in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It hosts over 40 online degree programs, each of which can be taken 100% online. There are certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor's degrees, as well as more advanced master's and doctorate programs. Some examples include a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and Bachelor of Science in Accounting. Each course within these programs is highly flexible and lasts approximately eight weeks.

CSP teaches through the Lutheran denomination. Each year the school offers a religious theme that guides coursework and is based in the Christian liberal arts. Each program's general education requirements feature up to six credits of religious studies, including classes such as Scripture and its interpretation: A Global Introduction to the Bible and New Testament.

#2 Southwestern College - KS

  • Salary Score: 80
  • Median Starting Salary: $52,742
  • Locations: Winfield (KS)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Southwestern College (SC) is a private, Christian college located in Winfield, Kansas. Its online offerings span 15 bachelor's programs in five areas of study. There's a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Management, Bachelor of Science in Strategic Leadership, and Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration — to name a few examples. Additionally, students may pursue master's degrees, doctorates, and certificate programs. Courses are offered in six-week sessions throughout the year.

Although SC is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, its general education requirements do not include faith-based learning. Online students receive the same level of support as on-campus students, which includes digital libraries and tech support for the Blackboard learning management system. SC also offers a list of counseling resources for remote students.

#3 Crown College

  • Salary Score: 78
  • Median Starting Salary: $39,612
  • Locations: Saint Bonifacius (MN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Crown College is a private, Christian institution in Saint Bonifacius, Minnesota. Students can choose from 24 undergraduate programs, including three accelerated bachelor's to master's degrees in counseling, ministry, and business administration. While some of the 24 programs are at the associate level, the majority are bachelor's degrees — with options such as a Bachelor of Science in Alcohol and Drug Counseling, Bachelor of Science in Disaster and Emergency Management, and Bachelor of Arts in Global and Cultural Studies.

Additionally, there are faith-focused programs, such as a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies and Bachelor of Science in Christian Ministry. All degree programs are Christ-centered, however, and include a Christian Core in History of New Testament and Apologetics. Online students are offered counseling resources that help guide them in their career path as followers of Christ.

#4 St. Catherine University

  • Salary Score: 73
  • Median Starting Salary: $52,624
  • Locations: Saint Paul (MN)
  • Accreditation: HLC

St. Catherine University (SCU) is a private, Catholic university in Saint Paul, Minnesota. There are 11 online bachelor's degrees ranging from subjects in healthcare to accounting. For example, students may pursue a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management, Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education with Licensure, and Bachelor of Science in Radiation Therapy.

The core curriculum for each program at St. Kate's is based on the Sisters of St. Joseph philosophy, which is centered around educating Catholic women in liberal arts. This includes at least one required Theology course. Many of the core education requirements also mention social justice initiatives and developing a sense of community through internship opportunities and community leadership programs.

#5 Columbia College - SC

  • Salary Score: 71
  • Median Starting Salary: $39,693
  • Locations: Columbia (SC)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Columbia College (CC) is a private institution in Columbia, SC. It offers a series of online degree programs for working individuals. There's a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology, and Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies. CC offers 12 undergraduate programs in total, with an additional 14 certificates and minors.

The school was founded as a part of the United Methodist Church and initially served women only, but as of 2020, it opened its doors to all genders. CC follows its Methodist roots by focusing on matters of social justice, diversity, and inclusiveness. However, there are no specific faith-based classes that are part of their general education requirements. The school offers dedicated staff for online students that need assistance with their courses.

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Overview of Christian Colleges

Christian colleges allow students to combine a traditional postsecondary online education with the chance to develop a religious worldview. What sets these schools apart from secular institutions is that they offer conventional degree programs that are grounded in Christian values and beliefs. Christian colleges therefore aim to deepen a student's faith while also preparing them for careers in different economic sectors. 

Christian colleges are a type of postsecondary institution where students gain a religiously grounded education. Like other schools, Christian colleges offer degree programs in various humanities, social science, and STEM disciplines, equipping students with the knowledge and job-ready skills to find employment once they graduate. Unlike their secular counterparts, however, Christian colleges award degrees that incorporate Biblical studies as part of their core requirements. Every student who attends a Christian college must complete faith-based coursework to earn their diploma.  

What Is Considered a Christian College?

In general, any school that requires students to pursue biblical studies as part of their education can be considered a Christian college or university. However, Christian colleges may be distinguished by the particular denomination they're associated with. For instance, some may follow the Jesuit Order, while others can espouse the Lutheran or Presbyterian faith. Still others may be nondenominational. The common thread uniting these schools is their emphasis on Christian values as foundational to any postsecondary education. 

Christian College vs. Bible College

Though they may sound similar, Christian colleges and Bible colleges are actually quite different. While both are proponents of Christian teachings, the latter focus exclusively on training students for careers in Christian ministry. Students enrolled in Bible college study scripture and often don't have any exposure to secular topics. Furthermore, because Bible colleges tend not to be regulated or accredited, most don't award degrees. Instead, students graduate with diplomas or certificates. 

On the other hand, Christian colleges offer degrees that are equivalent to those awarded by non-secular schools. While students must complete coursework in areas such as Christian philosophy and Bible study, they also study liberal arts, social science, and STEM subjects. Christian college graduates therefore typically have a wider range of career paths to choose from than their Bible college counterparts. 

What Will I Learn at a Christian College?

Christian colleges encourage the development of a Christ-based outlook of the world. Most schools have a conservative campus culture that teaches students to engage in faith-based activities, such as community service, chapel attendance, and mentorship. Where academics are concerned, all students complete biblical studies coursework designed to instill Christian values. 

Below is a list of common online courses students may take:

Issues in Christian Leadership

This course covers the various challenges facing pastors, missionaries, and reverends who preach Christianity. It explores the effect of secular teachings on religious populations, focusing on how Christian leaders can reinvigorate the faith of their flock.  

Life of Christ

This core course explores the life of Jesus Christ from a philosophical perspective. Aside from learning about historical events, students are encouraged to take life lessons from the experiences of early Christians.

New Testament Survey

Students gain an understanding of how the modern Christian church evolved in this class. They study early Christianity and also learn about the differences between the Old and New Testaments.

World Civilizations

A World Civilizations course explores the differences between major religions, such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism. Students learn to appreciate how different faiths have developed, as well as the key tenants that distinguish them from one another.  

Degrees at Christian Colleges

Christian colleges offer degrees in a wide range of disciplines, with students having the option to enroll in humanities, social science, and STEM-focused programs. Additionally, while some Christian colleges exclusively award four-year liberal arts degrees, others also have a variety of graduate offerings — including at the master's and doctoral levels

In addition to teaching an appreciation of religious faith, the learning outcomes for these programs are designed around equipping students with the knowledge and skills to secure employment in various industries. For instance, undergraduate degrees may qualify students for various entry-level positions in the private and nonprofit sectors, while graduate credentials can prepare them for careers in academia, research, and government. 

How To Choose a Christian University or College

There are several factors to contemplate when deciding between different Christian universities and colleges, the first and most important of which is determining whether you're interested in a faith-based education. Christian colleges are ideal for individuals who come from a religious upbringing, aspire to earn a college degree, and desire a learning environment that allows them to practice and deepen their faith. 

Aside from this primary consideration, below are some additional points to remember when choosing a Christian university or college.

  • Affordability

It's essential to choose an affordable Christian college where you can afford tuition costs and other fees. This can help ensure you don't have to take out expensive student loans and may also lead to a higher return on your educational investment.

  • Denomination

While all Christian colleges expect students to complete coursework in religious topics, they may vary in terms of specific beliefs and practices. You should consider enrolling in a school that is associated with your personal denominational faith, or even enrolling in a nondenominational Chrsitian college.   

  • Program Offerings 

Not all Christian colleges offer the same degree programs. For instance, while some may have a wider range of choices in science and math fields, others may emphasize the liberal arts. Furthermore, Christian colleges can vary in terms of the degree levels they offer. Picking a school that offers the right program for you is important.


Like secular schools, Christian colleges must be accredited in order to qualify as degree-granting institutions. There are six institutional accrediting agencies that assess colleges and universities in different parts of the country. A Christian college that is institutionally accredited has been assessed based on its course offerings, curricula, faculty, and student facilities and has been determined to meet rigorous, nationally standardized benchmarks for academic excellence. 

Unlike secular schools, Christian colleges must also receive accreditation from faith-based organizations to show that they've adopted religious teachings and practices in their curricula and campus life. There are four such nationally-based organizations recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, including the Association for Biblical Higher Education, Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools, Commission on Accrediting the Association of Theological Schools, and the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. 

Financing Your Online Degree from a Christian College

Given the rising cost of getting a higher education, it's a good idea to consider your financial aid options before applying to college. Students who plan to attend a Christian university or college qualify for the same types of assistance as those enrolled in a secular school, including various scholarships, grants, fellowships, and loans. 

An effective strategy in choosing between these different options is first to exhaust free sources of funding, as you don't have to pay these back. If you decide to take out a loan, consider federal assistance rather than private lenders, as the former offer favorable repayment plans. Once you're ready to apply for financial aid, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. 

FAQs About Christian Colleges

Do You Have To Be Christian To Attend a Christian College?

No, you don't have to be Christian to attend a Christian College. However, there are a few caveats to remember if you're considering enrolling in such an institution. First, it is within the purview of admissions departments to make a decision based on your faith. For instance, if your religion doesn't align with a particular school's denomination, you can be denied admission. On the other hand, some Christian colleges may welcome non-Christians to increase diversity and foster new perspectives on campus.

Second, all incoming students are expected to uphold the faith-based standards of conduct at a given Christian college, regardless of their own beliefs. Non-religious or non-Christian students are also not exempt from completing core coursework based on Biblical teachings. 

How Does an Online Christian College Differ From an On-Campus One?

There are no significant differences between an online Christian college and an on-campus one when it comes to academics. Online students in both learning formats can expect to complete the same number of credits, cover the same topics within a single degree program, and therefore receive the same quality of education. 

The biggest difference between online and on-campus Christian colleges is that students enrolled in the former take classes based on their own schedules. This typically means completing online courses asynchronously and checking in with advisors virtually when questions arise. Additionally, distance learners may have limited access to in-person activities — such as chapel services, Bible study, or charity drives — and may be less involved in campus life. 

Do Christian Colleges Offer Mission Trips?

Yes, most Christian colleges offer mission trips, and some even require students to complete a certain number of weeks or months spreading their faith in the real world and working with people from different walks of life. Mission trips vary in nature from school to school, with some offering the chance to travel abroad and others incorporating community service projects as part of their requirements. Furthermore, while some Christian colleges sponsor shorter trips, others give students the chance to pay for longer excursions. 

Do Christian Colleges Teach Modern Science?

Accredited Christian colleges that meet commonly accepted standards for quality education do teach modern science. Students who take science-based classes can therefore expect to gain a comprehensive education in their chosen field of study, just like they would if they were to enroll at an accredited secular school. 

At the same time, given their commitment to providing faith-based education, Christian colleges tend to cover modern science topics in a Biblical rather than secular context. Students are encouraged to think of modern science as complementary to Christian values and beliefs. 

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