Top 10 Christian Colleges and Universities in the North

Online Christian Colleges - Best Schools-01

By: OCC Staff
November 2020

A subset of the 50 Best Christian Colleges and Universities is presented for your benefit.  For certain reasons, a specific region is selected to pursue higher education; Online Christian Colleges and Universities provides a detailed review of schools that are deliberately Christian in their Mission, Values and Vision.  Most provide a wide range of degree programs and offer a top-notch education.  Our desire is to be one source (of several) of valuable information to help the student and family reach a decision that is well reasoned and appropriate for the student’s aspirations and goals.

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The Methodology used in this ranking is the same as was used for the 50 Best Christian Colleges and Universities ranking, but the geography was filtered to only feature schools in the north-northeastern part of the country.  Elements analyzed were: Student/Faculty Ratio,  Financial Aid, Exclusivity (Admission Rate), Retention Rate and Graduation Rate.  Equal weight was given to each element, and the totals were compiled into a Preliminary Ranking.  This was further reviewed and tie scores were settled by comparing net cost and the presence of financial aid (% of students who receive aid).

10 Malone University

Canton, Ohio
Cleveland Bible College was founded in 1892 by Walter and Emma Malone as a co-educational Bible school affiliated with the religious Society of Friends. In 1956 the school relocated some 60 miles south to Canton, Ohio and changed its name to Malone College in honor of its founders. Canton, once famous for a booming steel industry and the inception of professional football transitioned its economy into a more service-oriented environment with education, finance and healthcare; the small city keeps a close connection with the National Football League, serving as host city of the NFL Hall of Fame. Like its home city, Malone College changed over time as well, growing into a university in 2008 and changing its religious affiliation to the Evangelical Friends Church-Eastern Region. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) as well as five other undergraduate educational accrediting bodies and offers over 75 undergraduate degrees through its four schools: College of Theology, Arts, and Sciences, School of Nursing and Health Sciences, School of Business and Leadership and School of Education and Human Development.

The 1,667 strong student body consists of 1,311 undergraduate students and over 350 graduate degree program candidates. The student-to-faculty ratio is a very desirable 11 to 1. Estimated tuition cost is $29,422, and around 89% of starting, full-time students receive at least one form of student financial aid. The admission rate into Malone University is 73% while the retention rate is a strong 79%; the graduation rate of 53%. Malone University’s public Mission statement says the school’s purpose is “to provide students with an education based on biblical faith in order to develop men and women in intellectual maturity, wisdom, and Christian faith who are committed to serving the church, community, and world.”

Student/Faculty RatioTuition CostFinancial Aid RateAdmission RateRetention RateGraduation Rate
11 to 1$29,42289%73%79%53%

9 Roberts Wesleyan College

Rochester, NY
Roberts Wesleyan College, situated in the northern reaches of upstate New York, is a Christian liberal arts school that was founded in 1869. Set in the outskirts of Rochester near the banks of Lake Ontario, students at Roberts Wesleyan College experience the northern climate at its strongest. Ultimately named for its founder, Benjamin T Roberts, the school was established as Chili Seminary before it was changed, first to AM Chesbrough Seminary in 1885, and then to Roberts Junior College in 1945. Four years after that change, the school was granted a charter from New York State and commenced offering 4-year degrees, changing its name one last time. A self-described “community of learners committed to historic Christianity,” Roberts Wesleyan College states its Mission as a school that “seeks to prepare thoughtful, spiritually mature, service-oriented people who will help transform society.” The College maintains accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and has ongoing affiliations with the Council of Christian Colleges & Universities, the Council of Independent Colleges, and the Association of Free Methodist Educational Institutions among others. The College currently offers undergraduate degrees in 60 fields of study in addition to 11 online programs and 16 graduate programs. Academic departments include Art, Business, Communication, Computer Science, Criminal Justice, Education, Engineering, History, Language & Literature, Math, Ministry, Music, Nursing, Physics, Pre-Health, Psychology, Science, and Social Work.

The total student body population consists of nearly 1,700, of whom just over 1,300 are undergraduate students and over 375 are graduate degree candidates. The school boasts a solid 13 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio; the estimated tuition cost is $29,540 and 100% of starting, full-time students receive at least one form of financial aid. A fairly selective institution, Roberts Wesleyan College accepts 65% of applicants and has a 75% retention rate as well as a reasonable 59% graduation rate.

Student/Faculty RatioTuition CostFinancial Aid RateAdmission RateRetention RateGraduation Rate
13 to 1$29,540100%65%75%59%

8 Messiah College

Mechanicsburg, PA
Central Pennsylvania is the ruggedly beautiful backdrop that provides the setting for Messiah College. Just 12 miles from the state capitol of Harrisburg, Messiah College is situated south of Mechanicsburg amid wooded areas and open fields adding to the rustic natural beauty of the campus. This Christian liberal arts college was founded in 1909 by the Brethren in Christ Church and maintains the school motto: “Christ Preeminent.” The school’s stated Mission is “to educate men and women toward maturity of intellect, character and Christian faith in preparation for lives of service, leadership and reconciliation in church and society.” Its Brethren roots do not limit the institution, as the population of students, faculty and staff come from a variety of Protestant Christian backgrounds. Messiah College is made up of six schools: the School of the Arts, the School of Business, Education and Social Sciences, the School of Graduate Studies, the School of the Humanities, and the School of Science, Engineering and Health; it is these individual schools that confer the over 150 undergraduate degrees in 80 distinct majors as well as 27 graduate degrees and Certificate programs. In addition, there is a 3-year degree option, College Honors Program and summer online studies adding to the school’s educational offerings.

The 2,788 undergraduate students and over 500 graduate degree candidates, hailing from over 36 states and more than 31 international countries, appreciate the student-to-faculty ratio of 13 to 1. To further demonstrate the diversity of the student body, over 13% of the population are from traditionally under-represented people groups (along racial, ethnic and cultural identities). The College eagerly supports study abroad programs as evidenced by the 90% participation rate of undergraduate students. Estimated tuition expense is $33,180, and 100% of starting, full-time matriculants receive at least one form of financial aid. Messiah has an 80% acceptance rate and a strong retention rate of 85%. Equally positive is the robust graduation rate of 76%.

Student/Faculty RatioTuition CostFinancial Aid RateAdmission RateRetention RateGraduation Rate
13 to 1$33,180100%80%85%76%

7 Eastern University

St Davids, Pennsylvania
Situated just outside of Philadelphia’s Main Line neighborhoods is St Davids, Pennsylvania, home to Eastern University’s main campus. Beyond the 114-acre headquarters, Eastern University maintains other campus locations in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Ripley, West Virginia; and Rwanda, Africa. All locations have the same focus and purpose: to integrate faith, reason and justice for its students. Affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA, Eastern University has an interdenominational Christian population of students, staff and faculty. This coeducational university sets forth a mission statement indicating that the school is “dedicated through teaching, scholarship, service, spiritual formation, student development and societal involvement to the preparation of undergraduate, graduate and Seminary students for thoughtful and productive lives of Christian faith and service.” Eastern University includes several colleges and a seminary, specifically the College of Business and Leadership, the College of Education, the College of Health and Social Sciences, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Templeton Honors College, Esperanza College and Palmer Theological Seminary. These schools offer Associate of Arts, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Social Work, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Arts, Master of Business Administration, Master of Science, Master of Education, Master of Theological Studies, Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Arts, Doctor of Ministry degrees.

Even though the student population is larger than many “small” schools, the 2,082 undergrads and over 1,300 graduate students appreciate the low student-to-faculty ratio of 10 to 1. Estimated tuition expense is $31,140; to offset that cost, 100% of starting, full-time students receive at least one form of financial aid. Eastern University is rather selective in its admissions, only 61% of applicants are accepted; the high retention rate of 78% and overall graduation rate of 58% reflect well on the university.

Student/Faculty RatioTuition CostFinancial Aid RateAdmission RateRetention RateGraduation Rate
10 to 1$31,140100%61%78%58%

6 Waynesburg University

Waynesburg Pennsylvania
Waynesburg University, located in Waynesburg Pennsylvania, in the southwestern corner of the state. The school, named for the renowned Revolutionary War general ‘Mad’ Anthony Wayne, was founded in 1849 by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Pennsylvania chartered the school in 1850. It remains an independent, private Christian university to this day. The school’s stated mission is to prepare students to “make connections between faith, learning and serving so that they might faithfully transform their communities and the world” – this idea is formalized in the university’s Mission Statement: “As a Christian comprehensive University, we strive to inspire and challenge every undergraduate and graduate student to a life of leadership and purpose for the glory of God.” Even the school motto, Fiat Lux, means ‘let there be light’ which is a nod to Genesis chapter 1 verse 3. Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Waynesburg University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide range of programs. Areas of study include business, communication, criminal justice, education, forensic science and nursing.

Among the less expensive private universities in the area and the nation, Waynesburg’s estimated tuition expense is approximately $22,800; the school acknowledges that 99% of starting, full-time students receive at least one form of financial aid as scholarships, grants or government-sponsored student aid programs. Waynesburg University is one of 21 schools in the nation to participate in the Bonner Scholar Program, whereby an estimated 15 students are awarded community service scholarships each year. The student body comprises 1,400 undergraduate students and over 400 graduate program candidates; the low student-to-faculty ratio of 12 to 1 is an asset to a student’s education. Statistics speak well of the school: they have a 94% admission rate, a retention rate of 75% (for full-time students) and a strong graduation rate of 60%

Student/Faculty RatioTuition CostFinancial Aid RateAdmission RateRetention RateGraduation Rate
12 to 1$22,80099%94%75%60%

5 Gordon College

Wenham, Massachusetts
Between Salem and Gloucester, Massachusetts lies the hamlet of Wenham. Not far from the coast in this little village is the beautiful campus of Gordon College. This private, non-denominational Christian liberal arts and sciences college is determined to “graduate men and women distinguished by intellectual maturity and Christian character, committed to lives of service and prepared for leadership worldwide.” Gordon College achieves this by providing students “the ability to think holistically, reason analytically, communicate persuasively and – even more importantly – to act morally.” Gordon College is affiliated with organizations including the Council of Independent Colleges, the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. Not only is the school committed to the integration of faith and learning, Gordon College is also dedicated to offering students a liberal arts education to develop the qualities that are sought-after by employers. The College takes this responsibility seriously as it determined to “prepare students for the long haul, to make them spiritually, intellectually, relationally and professionally ready for a lifetime of growth—from the first job out of college and beyond, into fields not yet existing.”

38 undergraduate majors, 39 minors and 12 interdisciplinary and professional minors are offered by Gordon College; the campus also hosts several centers and institutions, including the Association of Christian Economists, the Barrington Center for the Arts, The Hermann Lectures on Faith and Science, the La Vida Center for Outdoor Education and Leadership, and the Institute for Public History. The college is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). A strong student-to-faculty ratio of 12 to 1 is appreciated by the 2,000 member student body. The school’s admission rate is 92%, retention rate is 86%, and over 70% of students complete their degree program. Estimated tuition expense is $36,060 and all starting full-time students receive at least one form of financial aid.

Student/Faculty RatioTuition CostFinancial Aid RateAdmission RateRetention RateGraduation Rate
12 to 1$36,06099%92%86%70%

4 Cedarville University

Cedarville, Ohio
The northern portion of Cedarville, Ohio is home to a private, coeducational Christian university: Cedarville University. Set on 400 acres of rural charm, the campus features the beautiful Cedar Lake (a central feature of the main area of campus). The school’s history begins in 1887 with five men with a vision to establish a school to offer Christian education; today the school enjoys national recognition for providing “authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and leading student satisfaction ratings.” Cedarville University offers over 130 degree programs including undergraduate, graduate, residential and online variations. All undergraduate majors include a minor in Bible and all courses reflect a “biblical-theological position in regard to doctrine.” The university’s academic departments include Art, Design, and Theatre; Biblical and Theological Studies; Business Administration; Communication; Education; Engineering and Computer Science; English, Literature, and Modern Languages; History and Government; Interdisciplinary Studies; Kinesiology and Allied Health; Music and Worship; Nursing; Pharmacy; Psychology; Science and Mathematics; and Social Work.

The Higher Learning Commission accredited Cedarville University and the school is certified by the Department of Higher Education and chartered by the state of Ohio. Around 80% of the 1,298 students reside on campus; the student body includes 1,135 undergrads and 163 graduate students. The school has an admission rate of 69%, a retention rate of 85% and a graduation rate of 72% – high rates that the university is proud of. A student-to-faculty ratio of 13 to 1 means good interaction between faculty and student. Estimated tuition expense is $28,110; nearly 99% of starting students receive at least one form of financial aid.

Student/Faculty RatioTuition CostFinancial Aid RateAdmission RateRetention RateGraduation Rate
13 to 1$28,11099%69%85%72%

3 Grove City College

Grove City, Pennsylvania
Western Pennsylvania is known for its rugged landscapes, natural beauty and rich American history. It is also home to a number of highly ranked Christian colleges and universities. Grove City College demonstrates the best of the region with a spacious, picturesque campus, respected degree programs and a long history of providing Christian higher education. Founded in 1876 as Pine Grove Normal Academy, 13 students were led by Isaac Ketler as the school principal. Little did they know the legacy they would leave and the growth the school would undergo. Since 1884 the school has been chartered as Grove City College and has offered advanced degrees ever since. Fiercely independent, the school accepts no federal financial aid. In the college’s perspective, this allows them “to be the best Christian liberal arts college in America” and to “develop leaders of the highest proficiency, purpose, and principles ready to advance the common good” without being beholden to the civil magistrate. Grove City’s stated mission is to allow “students to pursue their unique callings through an academically excellent and Christ-centered learning and living experience distinguished by a commitment to affordability and its promotion of the Christian worldview, the foundations of free society, and the love of neighbor.”

Two main departments, Arts & Letters and Science, Engineering & Mathematics provide undergraduate degree programs. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education has accredited the college; the school also maintains formal affiliations with organizations including the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania among others. There are 2,336 undergraduate students enrolled and a student-to-faculty ratio of 13 to 1. The admission rate is 82%, the retention rate is 94% and the graduation rate is 81%. The estimated tuition cost is $16,630 and approximately 77% of starting, full-time students receive some form of financial aid (but not federal student loans!).

Student/Faculty RatioTuition CostFinancial Aid RateAdmission RateRetention RateGraduation Rate
13 to 1$16,63077%82%94%81%

2 Houghton College

Houghton, New York
Houghton, New York is home to Houghton College. This idyllic campus set in the Genesee Valley in upstate New York provides a backdrop of natural beauty for the private Christian liberal arts college. Allegany County is rich in American history; this area had been Seneca Tribal land. Houghton College was founded in 1883 as a coeducational seminary high school that added college courses in 1899. It has been affiliated with the Wesleyan Church from the start and received a provisional charter from the state of New York in 1923. According to the school, its aim is “preparing students to serve God fully and faithfully in the 21st century” and has a stated mission to offer “an academically challenging, Christ-centered education in the liberal arts and sciences to students from diverse traditions and economic backgrounds and equips them to lead and labor as scholar-servants in a changing world.” Houghton College is popular for affordable degree programs and rigorous academics; the school seeks to give “experiential and transformative learning experience[s]” within a close, relational Christian community.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the Regents of the University of the State of New York have accredited Houghton College and the school is a member of the National Association of Schools of Music. Houghton offers over 40 undergraduate degree programs and features online degrees, study abroad and honors programs as well. The student body is made up of 1,059 students from around the world. The school boasts a strong graduate follow-up status where 97% of all undergraduates are either employed or enrolled in graduate programs within nine months of receiving their degree. The sense of intimacy is reflected in its 13 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio; the admission rate is 79%. Approximate tuition expense is $30,336 and all new, full-time students receive some form of financial aid. Houghton College also boasts retention and graduation rates of 86% and 72%, respectively which is very strong.

Student/Faculty RatioTuition CostFinancial Aid RateAdmission RateRetention RateGraduation Rate
13 to 1$30,336100%79%86%72%

1 Geneva College

Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania
Situated on 55 acres of rural beauty, Geneva College is located in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania just northwest of Pittsburgh. This private, four-year college of arts, sciences and professional studies was founded in 1848. Originally set in Northwood, Ohio, the campus was moved in 1880 across the state line to the east. Geneva College is affiliated with the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America and was a founding member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), an organization that includes three other schools in the region. The school takes its name from Geneva, Switzerland in remembrance of that city’s role in the Reformed Christian Movement of the 16th Century. Geneva College is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. There are over 40 fields of study in the undergraduate level of degree programs as well as master’s programs in Business Administration (MBA), Counseling, Higher Education, Leadership Studies and Organizational Leadership. The college’s Christian roots are very evident in its statement that the school “acknowledges the inerrancy of Scripture and God’s sovereignty over every field of study, athletic program and extracurricular pursuit.”

There are 1,666 students enrolled in Geneva College, 1,461 undergrads and over 200 graduate students. Classes are small by design – an average of 18 students each – and this is reflected in the student-to-faculty ratio of 13 to 1. More than 75% of Geneva College’s undergraduate students participate in internships, research activities or another type of applied learning, demonstrating the school’s dedication to hands-on education. The College’s most popular undergraduate majors are in Business, Engineering, Education, Biology, Communication, Psychology, Student Ministry, and Human Services. Geneva College admits 71% of applicants and has an approximate tuition expense of $25,680; however, over 98% of matriculating undergraduates receive financial aid. A high retention rate for full-time students (81%) and overall graduation rate of 66% reflect well on the programs.

Student/Faculty RatioTuition CostFinancial Aid RateAdmission RateRetention RateGraduation Rate
13 to 1$25,68099%71%81%66%

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