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Columbia Southern University

192 Reviews

Salary Score







87% of 192 students said this degree improved their career prospects
78% of 192 students said they would recommend this school to others
By the OnlineU team | Updated 2/2/2023



Columbia Southern University (CSU) is a private, fully online institution that features a variety of distance learning degrees. Some of the most well-attended programs include bachelor's and associate degrees in business administration, fire science, and occupational safety and health. With its open admissions policy, CSU accepts all candidates who hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. Nearly half of the university's students enroll part time.

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Rankings by Salary Score and Affordability

Salary Score for Online Degrees at Columbia Southern University

Associate's Degrees

Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities $16,875 $41,788 100
Criminal Justice and Corrections $11,340 $46,115 98
Fire Protection $10,500 $66,269 89
Health and Medical Administrative Services $16,401 $29,524 52

Bachelor's Degrees

Natural Resources Conservation and Research $19,903 $60,105 100
Criminal Justice and Corrections $20,227 $52,800 100
Business Administration, Management and Operations $23,046 $50,330 84
Health and Medical Administrative Services $23,446 $46,392 80
Fire Protection $18,262 $70,128 75
Human Resources Management and Services $21,875 $48,176 72
Computer and Information Sciences, General $22,705 $47,097 26

Master's Degrees

Homeland Security $35,699 $75,707 76
Criminal Justice and Corrections $39,022 $58,501 69
Public Administration $38,594 $57,300 61
Business Administration, Management and Operations $38,351 $60,526 32
Public Health $39,170 $43,677 24

FAQs About Columbia Southern University

Is Columbia Southern Legitimate?

Even though Columbia Southern only offers distance learning programs, it is a legitimate online college. Columbia Southern University is an accredited member of the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). The DEAC is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency, and it's a recognized member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CHEA is a nonprofit organization serving as a national advocate for self-regulation of academic quality through accreditation. All of Columbia Southern's programs have been reviewed and approved by DEAC.

Institutional accreditation — formerly called regional or national accreditation — is one of the best indications of a school's quality. Earning accreditation requires colleges to meet and maintain rigorous academic and administrative standards.

What Is Columbia Southern Known For?

Degrees in Business and Quality Control

The most popular subjects at Columbia Southern are business and quality control, according to the U.S. Department of Education's College Scorecard. This includes the school's Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety and Health, along with associate degrees in the same fields.

What Are the Career Outcomes for Columbia Southern?

According to College Scorecard, only 48% of Columbia Southern students graduate within eight years of starting their degree. This is below the median eight-year graduation rate of 59% for all schools combined. However, most students who graduated in 2021 reported that they were employed soon after, including 83% of bachelor's graduates who majored in business or occupational safety and health.

College Scorecard reports median annual wages of $74,398 for Columbia Southern graduates, which is higher than the $45,760 median yearly salary for all U.S. jobs combined. But this $74,000 doesn't tell the whole story, because the College Scorecard data is based on students who received federal financial aid. Only 56% of Columbia Southern students currently receive federal gift aid and 41% receive federal loans.

How Difficult Is It To Get Into Columbia Southern?

It's not difficult to get into Columbia Southern because the university has an open admissions policy. This means that all undergraduate applicants are admitted as long as they have a high school diploma or its equivalent, and graduate students can attend if they hold a bachelor's degree.

What Are the Admission Requirements for Columbia Southern?

All undergraduate and graduate degree candidates must complete an online application, which requires a social security number and contact information. Because Columbia Southern has open admissions, the university doesn't require entrance exams, letters of recommendation, or personal statements. Applying is free.

Bachelor's degree applicants submit an official high school transcript, GED transcript, or verification of homeschool completion consistent with requirements in their state. Prospective transfer students also need official transcripts from all postsecondary schools they've attended. 

Master's and doctoral degree candidates must submit official transcripts for all colleges they've attended.

Student Reviews

Student Reviews

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Reviewed: 6/30/2023

Degree: Human Resources

Columbia Southern University (CSU) is now regionally accredited. I completed my bachelor’s degree and have returned for my master’s degree. I had a commendable learning experience ranging from institutional and instructional support, necessitating my return for my master’s degree. The courses are challenging and would require you to think proactively. During my bachelor’s degree, many of the courses I took had 16 assignments per course (comprising of article critiques, projects, scholarly activities,... Read More


Reviewed: 5/14/2023

Degree: Business

The majority of the coursework is garbage. Most coursework was taught in the same format that encouraged narrow learning instead of a deep understanding of material. I took a microeconomics and macroeconomics class and the material taught in both classes were identical including homework and test. Earned credits at Columbia Southern are not transferable or accepted at many public and non profit universities.

John Davidson

Reviewed: 3/12/2023

Degree: MBA in Public Administration

I completed a MBA with emphasis on Public Administration in 2014 and it opened the door for my career which has put me at a six-figure salary. I was completing an MPA at a state school; however, I found it difficult to balance the scheduling options with working full time. I was aware of Columbia Southern University being a good value to utilize the GI Bill and knew they were very veteran-friendly. I took a job with huge upside potential as a graduate school intern with permanent placement contingent... Read More


Reviewed: 2/26/2023

Degree: Business Administration

I am very happy to have graduated from CSU with my MBA. Education is what you vision it be for yourself. I have returned to CSU for my DBA recently. I can say from experience that I'm happy to have returned to CSU for another learning experience. CSU is a well rounded university for not only the working adult but also for anyone who desires an affordable education. CSU is no diploma mill. Whoever believes and says otherwise should do more research on accreditation standards for national and regional... Read More

Maggie-MBA Professional

Reviewed: 1/30/2023

Degree: MBA

Columbia Southern University truly changed my life. I was able to pickup right where I left off years ago when I had to stop school for medical reasons. The registration staff is very helpful and are constantly following up to ensure no questions went unanswered. The tuition prices are affordable without jeopardizing the quality of the education offered. I found the courses to challenging but rewarding for my career.The professors are engaged and available to answer any questions or concerns. The... Read More

Healthcare Professional in search of additional journeys

Reviewed: 11/1/2022

Degree: Emergency Management

I am a long-time (thirty-plus years) healthcare professional who currently still works at the bedside doing bedside care and diagnostic testing in a federal medical facility. I desired to pursue a master's degree outside my current profession. However, I wanted there to be some relationship in a broader sense in terms of safety, mass casualty events, hazmat concerns, public administrations, etc. These types of events are unfortunately becoming more prevalent everywhere! It is essential that the program... Read More

John Beckett Brown

Reviewed: 10/22/2022

Degree: Occupational Safety

Glad that I completed my degree at CSU. The courses and the faculty were great. I am much better prepared for my professional career thanks to CSU. The skills that I improved on by attending CSU included research, writing and learning about current advancements in the field of Occupational Safety and Health.

Steven Gillet

Reviewed: 8/19/2022

Degree: Occupational Safety

I have attended this school for over 6 years. Graduated with honors. Retired military(submarines), have attained degrees from other schools with not as high of learning potential. I am a go getter and good study habit has given me great benefit. You get back what you put in. I believe CSU to be top notch curriculum. This school is no degree mill. The courses have had much difficulty and have provided success. My resume proves this school has given me a good benefit. Many naysayers that have no idea... Read More

Steve Riggs

Reviewed: 7/12/2022

Degree: Information Technology

The instruction at the school was less than adequate. I had to complete degree there because traditional schools wouldn’t take all transferred credits. Would prolong the education and go deeper in debt. Instructors just seemed to pass you on without really critiquing the homework to improve your skills. Once in the field you realize that your unprepared for most jobs you were hoping to get.

Tyler Hardy

Reviewed: 6/25/2022

Degree: Public Health

Let me just start off by saying that I could have received the same education by going to one of those online services that basically prints off a fake diploma and fake transcript. I have two academic integrity violations. One was because I missed a citation and the other was because a pop up blocker popped up during my exam which was from the proctor company and the SUC looked at my review and denied my appeal. And get ready to write, and write, and write, and write and write. You will write a 2-3... Read More

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