Best Christian Colleges & Universities 2024
Our nation was born on the boats of faithful Protestants as they braved a daunting trans-Atlantic journey toward freedom and the great unknown.
America’s Founding Fathers believed that as “one nation, under God,” this country would ultimately find success.
Christian values are embedded within our country’s defining documents and scattered throughout our history textbooks.
Because Christianity lies at the heart of our convictions, it is only natural for it to underpin our educational system.
The most prestigious post-secondary institutions in America began as faith-based universities. Puritans founded Harvard and Yale, and Princeton was strictly Presbyterian at the time of its establishment. However, all but a rare few have since transitioned to strictly secular institutions.
Notre Dame, Brigham Young University, Georgetown, and several others have withstood the winds of change and held fast to their Christian roots.
Online Programs That Might Interest YouLearn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Students at these and other faith-based schools have the opportunity to take religion courses, attend campus-based church services and devotionals, and enjoy the spiritual growth that comes with living and learning in a supportive community of faithful students.
Attending a college that supports your faith and values can help you grow spiritually and academically.
There is a level of comfort found in attending a college that supports your fundamental values, and surrounding yourself with other students who believe and live their beliefs only makes it easier for you to continue living and believing yours.
The integration of religious and secular education offers many benefits. Learning opportunities include study-abroad programs, service-based learning experiences, and faith-focused activities.
Religion courses are required at many Christian schools as part of their general education requirements. Christian schools’ programs are consistently ranked among the top in the country, a testament to their quality.
Dedicated Christians can attend any school they want, but for students whose priority is to continue being strengthened in their faith, there are fantastic opportunities all across America to attend Christian colleges and universities.
EDsmart provides a simple, reliable, and honest ranking of the best Christian colleges.
In our analysis of the best Christian colleges, we looked at several factors and ranked our list of schools accordingly.
- Affordability (average net price)
- Student Satisfaction (retention rate)
- Academic Quality (4-year graduation rate)
- Median Earnings (the median earnings of former students who received federal financial aid, at 10 years after entering the school)
Each data point is ranked with equal weight. Schools received a weighted overall ranking score for each individual point mentioned above–100 being the highest score possible.
In the case of tie scoring, the average net price was the determining factor for which school received the higher rank–the lower the net price, the higher the ranking.
All data was gathered from College Scorecard and school websites.
Best Christian Colleges & Universities for 2024
1. Wheaton College
- Average Net Price: $25,287
- Graduation Rate: 88.41%
- Retention Rate: 89.77%
- Median Earnings: $60,007
Founded in 1860 in the beautiful town of Wheaton, Illinois, just 25 miles from Chicago, this school is a non-denominational, private Christian institution that emphasizes uniting faith with scholarship. Wheaton is a co-ed liberal arts school where English, Managerial Economics, and Health Service Preparation majors are popular. A few notable Wheaton alumni include the late Reverend Billy Graham and former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, and Wheaton Thunder, the school’s athletics department, is part of Division III of the NCAA. As part of a Wheaton tradition, four cornerstones are viewed as the key to a successful “Wheaton” experience: class participation, chapel service attendance, extracurricular activities, and on-campus living.
With an acceptance rate of about 85%, Wheaton’s student population totals just over 2,300. The total cost of tuition and fees for one year of college is about $25,000. However, about 90% of first-year students get financial aid. Students are required to live on campus but have the choice of dormitory living, campus apartments, or campus houses; room and board at the college averages $10,100 per year. Wheaton continues a well-known Christian tradition of learning and scholarship, which is important to students who put their faith and education first.
2. Pepperdine University
- Average Net Price: $35,167
- Graduation Rate: 84.41%
- Retention Rate: 89.03%
- Median Earnings: $78,224
Pepperdine University was founded as a private, four-year Christian school in 1937. It is in Malibu, California, near the beautiful foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. The university’s code of ethics is based on the teachings of the New Testament and the Church of Christ. Graduate studies are offered at several auxiliary campuses in the Los Angeles area. About 10,400 students enroll each year, and the ratio of students to teachers is about 13 to 1. The Pepperdine Waves are part of the West Coast Conference and NCAA Division I. In all, the school ranks at #55 among national universities and #49 in Best Value Schools, according to US News.
First-year students and sophomores live on an alcohol-free campus in residential dorms with live-in spiritual advisors. Pepperdine graduates 84% of students in popular majors such as Psychology, Business, and Public Relations, and the average starting salary for many alumni is around $62,508. Pepperdine is recognized nationally for its high academic standards and praised globally for its international programs.
3. Messiah University
- Average Net Price: $23,560
- Graduation Rate: 76.65%
- Retention Rate: 85.87%
- Median Earnings: $54,532
This private Christian college was established in 1909 just 12 miles from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, by scholar and philanthropist R.S. Smith. Messiah College is a private liberal and applied arts and sciences school. Messiah College was founded on Anabaptist, Pietist, and Wesleyan Christian teachings. The school’s academic and community mission emphasizes service and leadership in both religious and worldly aspects of life. Students have a wide variety of local, national, and international service opportunities and can participate in academic problem-solving projects to provide service to non-profits, government agencies, and global businesses. Students are required to sign a Community Covenant, promising to uphold academic integrity, Christian-based faith practices, and responsible decision-making.
With an acceptance rate of 77%, enrollment sits at upwards of 3,300 students. The faculty-to-student ratio is 1 to 12. Students frequently select majors including engineering and business, but there are over 80 available.
4. Hope College
- Average Net Price: $26,700
- Graduation Rate: 79.39%
- Retention Rate: 86.90%
- Median Earnings: $56,309
Hope offers over 90 undergraduate majors in liberal arts disciplines like science, social science, arts, humanities, business, engineering, education, and nursing. Popular majors include business, education, nursing, biology, engineering, and psychology. Students learn from full-time faculty experts dedicated to undergraduate teaching with a 12:1 student-faculty ratio and average class size of 16. Over 95% of faculty have terminal degrees.
Undergraduate research is a focus at Hope. Students can collaborate with faculty mentors and present research on-campus and at national conferences. Through semester exchange programs and May/June terms, 50% of Hope students study abroad in over 70 countries. 95% of students complete internships for career experience. Hope works with 500+ organizations locally and nationwide for internship placement.
With 100+ clubs and organizations, 18 NCAA DIII athletic teams, performing arts, Greek life, spiritual groups, and intramurals, campus life is vibrant. Within 6 months after graduation, 98% of graduates are employed or in graduate school. Hope graduates go on to top graduate/professional schools. Over 99% of students receive financial aid.
5. Baylor University
- Average Net Price: $37,248
- Graduation Rate: 77.72%
- Retention Rate: 89.43%
- Median Earnings: $62,913
Located in the central city of Waco, Texas, Baylor is a private Christian university situated within a hundred miles of both Austin and Dallas. Waco is known for its local hiking trails and other outdoor recreation opportunities. Founded in 1845, Baylor University prides itself on a campus community, bonded by faith and service and grounded in Baptist principles. With only 57% of applicants being accepted, the school has an average of about 15,000 undergraduate students. But the ratio of students to teachers is only 1 to 16, which means that students can get personalized feedback and work together with their teachers.
In the world of academia, Baylor is highly respected. Some of the school’s cutting-edge research programs work with businesses in Waco on long-term projects. With a 76% graduation rate, the school is both tough academically and very competitive. According to Niche.com, it ranks #8 in Best Christian Colleges in America and has an overall grade rating of A. Popular majors at Baylor include nursing and accounting. At Baylor University, the mission is to educate men and women through service and faith, to help them develop leadership skills and enduring spirituality.
6. Cedarville University
- Average Net Price: $22,772
- Graduation Rate: 72.60%
- Retention Rate: 86.90%
- Median Earnings: $53,681
Cedarville offers over 150 undergraduate programs including engineering, business, nursing, education, Bible, and liberal arts. Popular majors include nursing, business, engineering, and biblical studies. Classes are taught by full-time faculty members; the student-faculty ratio is 14:1. Over 70% of faculty hold terminal degrees.
Cedarville is a Christian university that integrates faith and learning. Students take Bible courses and chapel is held daily.
Undergraduates can collaborate with faculty on research projects and present at academic conferences. Cedarville offers semester-long study abroad programs in countries like Spain, Israel, and China. Short-term global learning trips are also available.
Over 94% of students complete at least one internship during their time at Cedarville. Excellent internship opportunities are available locally and nationwide. Cedarville has over 150 student organizations, NCAA DII athletics, performing arts, and many on-campus activities. After graduation, 99% of graduates are employed or enrolled in graduate school within 6 months. The career services center supports students. Financial aid is available.
7. College of the Ozarks
- Average Net Price: $7,202
- Graduation Rate: 70.33%
- Retention Rate: 79.18%
- Median Earnings: $40,659
College of the Ozarks is a private, Christian institution that was founded in 1906 in rural Oliver Township, Missouri. With an extremely competitive acceptance rate of 19%, Ozarks’ annual enrollment averages around 1,500 students annually. This school’s unprecedented tuition-free programs require all students to indicate a need for financial assistance before admission. After factoring in grants and scholarships, all costs of attendance are covered. Popular majors include Business, Public Relations, and Agricultural Business. The College of the Ozarks Bobcats also plays in the NAIA Division II-Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Deeply rooted in traditional Christian values, College of the Ozarks is a strictly substance-free campus that provides a wide variety of extracurricular activities for students. College of the Ozarks ranks #1 on US News’ list of Regional Colleges Midwest. Ozarks’ mission is to foster civically-minded alumni of Christian morals and lifelong achievement.
8. Point Loma Nazarene University
- Average Net Price: $33,537
- Graduation Rate: 76.32%
- Retention Rate: 84.29%
- Median Earnings: $64,114
Established in 1902 with a heritage of rich academic tradition, Point Loma Nazarene University is a highly-esteemed private, Christian university. The campus sits on 90 urban acres of the city of San Diego, offering a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. With an acceptance rate of 76%, it enrolls about 3,000 undergraduates in total. Some of the most popular majors include Nursing, Psychology, and Health Professions. The school’s graduation rate is 76%, and alumni report earning starting salaries of $40-$44,000/yr, averaging at around $51,000/yr just six years after graduating. Point Loma focuses on the personal development of individuals through faith-based education and service opportunities.
Students can earn degrees in over 60 majors and 40 minors. This historic institution is surprisingly forward-thinking, yet has managed to retain focus on Nazarene-based principles through the years. Point Loma’s mission is ultimately to prepare students to take on their “God-given vocation” and contribute to the betterment of society.
9. Gordon College
- Average Net Price: $21,840
- Graduation Rate: 71.93%
- Retention Rate: 81.82%
- Median Earnings: $54,542
Gordon offers over 40 undergraduate majors in fields like business, psychology, education, biology, Christian ministries, English, and more. There are also graduate programs in education and music education. With a 12:1 student-faculty ratio, students build close mentoring relationships with professors. Over 75% of faculty hold terminal degrees.
As a Christian college, Gordon integrates faith and learning. Students take Bible and theology courses along with chapel. Undergraduates can collaborate with faculty on original research projects and present at academic conferences. Gordon runs semester abroad programs in places like the Middle East, Australia, Ecuador and the U.K. Short-term global learning programs are also available.
Gordon students complete internships for hands-on learning, facilitated by Gordon’s extensive alumni network in various fields. There are over 100 student organizations, NCAA DIII athletics, performing arts groups, and vibrant on-campus activities. Within 6 months after graduation, 99% of graduates are employed or enrolled in graduate school. Gordon has a strong job placement. As a private college, Gordon offers merit scholarships and need-based aid. The average financial aid package is around $25,000.
10. Calvin University
- Average Net Price: $26,281
- Graduation Rate: 76.53%
- Retention Rate: 86.56%
- Median Earnings: $54,153
Calvin College was established in 1876 in the suburban city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is a small, private school founded on the doctrines of the Christian Reformed Church. A wide variety of new student orientations, such as Quest Week, help to acclimate incoming first-year students to the college experience and create an “intentional Christian community” among the student body. With 21 Varsity Division III NCAA teams, Calvin College Knights have garnered 11 national titles. Student scholars have earned 126 All-American Academic Awards. A few popular majors include Nursing, Business, and Engineering. Calvin College ultimately aims to bring world rehabilitation through service for Jesus Christ.
Student enrollment averages around 3,257. Of the students polled, 84% were confident they would be prepared to pursue careers in their chosen fields. The school graduates 75% of its student body. Calvin students are encouraged to excel in all areas of life through hard work and determination.
11. Whitworth University
- Average Net Price: $25,823
- Graduation Rate: 76.76%
- Retention Rate: 79.89%
- Median Earnings: $57,211
Whitworth offers over 60 undergraduate majors across liberal arts and sciences, business, education, theology, and more. Popular majors include business, biology, education, psychology, and theology. With a 13:1 student-faculty ratio, Whitworth focuses on mentoring relationships between professors and students. Over 80% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
As a Christian university, Whitworth integrates faith and learning into the curriculum. Chapel and theology courses are part of the experience. Undergraduates can team up with faculty to conduct original research and regularly present at academic conferences. Whitworth runs semester-long study abroad programs in several countries and also offers January term global learning trips.
Over 95% of Whitworth students complete at least one internship during their time at the university. Excellent connections in the Spokane region. There are over 100 student clubs, 17 varsity sports teams, performing arts groups, and lots of outdoor activities. Within 6 months after graduation, over 96% of graduates are employed or enrolled in graduate school. Whitworth has strong career services. As a private university, Whitworth offers competitive tuition rates and substantial financial aid. The average aid package is over $25,000.
12. Harding University
- Average Net Price: $20,429
- Graduation Rate: 66.04%
- Retention Rate: 85.57%
- Median Earnings: $50,273
Founded in 1924 in affiliation with the Church of Christ, Harding University is located on a 350-acre private campus in the rural foothills of the Ozark Mountains, surrounded by hiking trails and parks. With an average undergraduate enrollment of 3,687 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 13 to 1, Harding is a highly student-focused learning environment. The college utilizes a semester-based academic calendar, and popular majors include Humanities, Business, and Elementary Education. The school’s athletic team, the Harding Bison, competes in the NCAA Division II-Great American Conference.
Harding University has gained national recognition for distinguished academic achievement and annually admits high numbers of National Merit Scholars. It is known for providing academic opportunities that encourage personal and intellectual development at the highest level. Over 30% of Harding students have studied abroad in places such as France, Italy, Greece, and Zambia. Harding alumni report salaries of $40,900 at six years post-graduation, with 91% employment just two years after graduation.
13. Elmhurst University
- Average Net Price: $23,036
- Graduation Rate: 69.08%
- Retention Rate: 78.88%
- Median Earnings: $58,657
Elmhurst offers over 60 undergraduate majors, 15 master’s degrees, and several certificate programs. Popular undergraduate majors include business, nursing, education, and communication. With a 13:1 student-faculty ratio, students build close mentoring relationships with professors. Over 85% of faculty hold the highest degrees in their fields.
Undergraduates can partner with faculty on original research across disciplines. Elmhurst hosts an annual research showcase on campus. Over 95% of students complete one or more internships during their time at Elmhurst. The university has connections across Chicagoland. Elmhurst runs its own study abroad programs and has partnerships with programs around the world. About 60% of students study abroad.
There are over 100 student organizations, 18 varsity athletic teams, performing arts groups, honorary societies, and vibrant campus activities. Elmhurst has a strong focus on service-learning and community engagement. Many courses incorporate service projects. Within 6 months after graduation, over 97% of graduates are employed or enrolled in graduate school. Career advising starts freshman year.
14. Westmont College
- Average Net Price: $31,438
- Graduation Rate: 76.65%
- Retention Rate: 79.07%
- Median Earnings: $63,267
Westmont offers over 30 undergraduate majors across liberal arts, sciences, business, education, economics, and music. Popular majors include psychology, biology, economics, and English. With an 11:1 student-faculty ratio, Westmont emphasizes mentorship between professors and students. Over 95% of faculty hold the highest degree in their field.
As a Christian liberal arts college, Westmont integrates faith and learning in all programs. Chapel and theology courses are requirements. Undergraduates have opportunities to collaborate with faculty on original research across disciplines and present at academic conferences. Westmont encourages studying abroad and offers semester-long programs in places like Europe, Africa, and Central America.
Westmont students complete internships locally in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles for professional work experience. The alumni network facilitates placements. Within 6 months after graduation, over 93% of graduates are employed or enrolled in graduate school. Westmont has strong career development support. Students praise the close-knit, welcoming community.
15. Samford University
- Average Net Price: $30,716
- Graduation Rate: 71.57%
- Retention Rate: 88.24%
- Median Earnings: $54,742
Having survived two fires, two relocations, and even the Civil War, Samford ranks as the no. 1 university in Alabama. Initially founded in 1841 in Marion, the institution’s campus is now located in Homewood, Alabama. Samford is a private Christian institution with an average enrollment of 5,700 students from over 25 different countries and 40 states across the U.S. The student-to-faculty ratio is only 13 to 1. Art, divinity, and education are just a few of the undergraduate programs of study available to Samford students, but the most common degree choices include pharmacy, nursing, and journalism. The Samford Bulldogs are also part of the NCAA Division 1 competing in the Southern Conference.
Samford graduates 70% of its students, 97% of whom find employment within six months of graduation. At six years post-grad, many alumni have yearly salaries averaging on $49,900. Among the over 50,000 alumni, there are several Nobel Peace and Pulitzer Prize winners, U.S. Supreme Court Justices, and numerous Grammy and Emmy award recipients.
16. Taylor University
- Average Net Price: $26,401
- Graduation Rate: 76.58%
- Retention Rate: 88.69%
- Median Earnings: $47,467
Set on 250 acres of rural Upland, Indiana, Taylor University is an evangelical Christian university that was initially established as a private institution in 1846. With a 73% acceptance rate, the undergraduate enrollment averages about 1,900 students each year, and the student-to-faculty ratio is 12 to 1.
With faith-based ministry and service as foundational cornerstones of the university, most Taylor students work with community churches or the campus pastor by volunteering with campus services. The twin spires of the Rice Bell Tower serve to represent the union of learning and faith. Taylor University is arranged into the School of Humanities, Arts, and Biblical Studies, the School of Natural and Applied Sciences, and the School of Social Sciences, Education, and Business. Depending on their major, students attend one of these three schools. Popular majors include Psychology, Kinesiology and Exercise Science, and Biology. Over 95% of graduating seniors feel confident that they will find success within their field of employment.
17. Goshen College
- Average Net Price: $16,407
- Graduation Rate: 70.39%
- Retention Rate: 72.91%
- Median Earnings: $48,025
Goshen offers over 40 undergraduate majors in fields like business, biology, education, music, art, computer science, nursing, and more. Many integrate ethics and intercultural understanding. With a 9:1 student-faculty ratio, professors provide mentorship and support. Over 69% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
As a Mennonite college, Goshen emphasizes faith, service, peacemaking, and social justice across the curriculum. Goshen is ranked #2 in the nation for the percentage of students who study abroad with programs in over 20 countries. Students can collaborate with faculty on original research and creative projects across disciplines. Stipends available to support summer research.
Goshen has a strong focus on environmental sustainability and stewardship across campus operations and the curriculum. Goshen’s Career Services supports students in finding meaningful internships that match their values and learning goals. After graduation, 98% of graduates are employed or pursuing advanced degrees within 6 months.
18. Spring Arbor University
- Average Net Price: $20,235
- Graduation Rate: 63.63%
- Retention Rate: 79.01%
- Median Earnings: $47,632
Spring Arbor offers over 65 undergraduate majors including business, education, nursing, social work, psychology, Christian ministry, and more. There are also several graduate programs. Over 90% of faculty hold the highest degree in their field.
As a Christian university, Spring Arbor integrates faith into programs. Students take Bible courses and chapel is required. Spring Arbor has over 20 online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, providing flexible access to its academics.
Spring Arbor offers several study abroad programs including a full semester in Ecuador. Short-term global learning trips are also available. Internships are facilitated through Spring Arbor’s network. Over 90% of students complete at least one internship. There are over 50 student clubs, intramural sports, Greek life, global service trips, and NAIA athletic teams. After graduation, 95% of Spring Arbor graduates report being employed or in graduate school within 6 months.
19. Earlham College
- Average Net Price: $22,195
- Graduation Rate: 64.55%
- Retention Rate: 79.62%
- Median Earnings: $45,931
Earlham is a liberal arts college offering over 40 majors spanning humanities, sciences, social sciences, and the arts. Popular majors include biology, neuroscience, international studies, and economics. With a 8:1 student-faculty ratio, Earlham emphasizes close mentorship between professors and students. Undergraduates are encouraged to partner with faculty on advanced research across disciplines. Stipends are available to support summer research.
Earlham runs study abroad programs in places like Japan, Northern Ireland, and Morocco. About 40% of students study abroad. Earlham students have access to funded internships through the EPIC Advantage program. Over 60% complete an internship. Within 6 months after graduation, 95% of Earlham grads are employed or enrolled in graduate school. Earlham has strong career development support.
Earlham fosters a tight-knit, welcoming community focused on cooperation. The retention rate is 85%. Earlham meets 100% of demonstrated financial need for students with no loans required. Over 90% receive financial assistance. Earlham integrates sustainability across campus operations and the curriculum. It is a leading college for green initiatives.
20. Oklahoma Baptist University
- Average Net Price: $20,564
- Graduation Rate: 51.44%
- Retention Rate: 70.60%
- Median Earnings: $44,360
Centrally located in the urban city of Shawnee, Oklahoma Baptist University is a private Christian institution, established in 1910. With a relatively competitive acceptance rate of 56%, annual enrollment is only about 1,500 students. Students earn degrees in programs like Counseling, Psychology, Nursing, and Elementary Education, and OBU graduates 53% of students. The OBU Bison have also won over 30 national championships playing in the NAIA Division II- Great American Conference.
Students can easily visit nearby Oklahoma City or participate in exciting on-campus recreation options, all of which contribute to the faith-based learning community. Church service activities are an elemental aspect of campus culture and include missionary outreach both locally and worldwide in countries like Mexico, Japan, and Brazil. Graduate study options include Business Administration and Nursing, but there are over 80 undergraduate areas of study in total. Alumni are prepared to provide global Christian leadership through thoughtful service by consolidating faith and scholarship. Oklahoma Baptist University is among the leading Baptist schools in the country, providing worldwide missionary outreach and fostering life-long learning enhanced by faith, service, and global action.
Set on 95 acres of the sunny Southern California suburb of La Mirada, Biola University was founded as a private institution in 1908. Biola’s undergraduate enrollment sits at about 3,500 on-site students, with an additional 2,000 as graduate students. An acceptance rate of 61% makes Biola a relatively competitive school, with a faculty-to-student ratio of 1 to 13. Some of the most frequently chosen majors include Business, Psychology, and Biblical Studies. Biola’s graduation rate is 70%.
Biola University is a world-class Christian college that empowers students to live lives of meaningful determination rooted in Christian values through its educational opportunities. The university requires all undergraduates to take 30 credits-worth of Bible study and theology courses. Biola has nine schools of study, offering over 150 major programs designed to guide students through their bachelor programs and toward doctoral degrees. Of graduating seniors, 91% are confident they will find fulfilling employment in their respective fields.
Further Reading: Best Christian Colleges in Florida
Online Programs That Might Interest YouLearn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.