Finding a Christian college or university can be a daunting task, even in a region like the South. That’s why Online Christian Colleges went on the hunt for the very best Christian schools in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. While some are larger universities, others are smaller colleges. While some are officially non-denominational, others are affiliated with a particular denomination. And yet, every school on our list can be considered one of the best Christian colleges and universities in the South.
To come up with our ranking of the best Christian colleges and universities in the South, we began by making a list of more than 100 schools located in the aforementioned Southern states. To narrow down our list to the top 25, we used the following points system.
Annual Tuition (Estimate):
Under $70,000 — 1 point
Under $60,000 — 2 points
Under $50,000 — 3 points
Under $40,000 — 4 points
Under $30,000 — 5 points
Under $20,000 — 6 points
Under $10,000 — 7 points
Annual Percentage of 20-Year Net Return on Investment (ROI):
0-2% — 1 point
3-4% — 2 points
5-6% — 3 points
7-8% — 4 points
9% and Above — 5 points
Student to Faculty Ratio:
31: 1 or higher — 1 point
30:1 – 25:1 — 2 points
24:1 – 20:1 — 3 points
19:1 — 15:1 — 4 points
14:1 – 11:1 — 5 points
10:1 or lower — 6 points
Finally, we used a holistic approach to break ties in points and determine a final ranking. For this reason, not all of the colleges and universities listed below are ranked in descending order of points. We considered such attributes as the number of Christianity/Biblical courses in the core curriculum, the presence of an on-campus chapel, notable faculty and alumni, campus beauty and culture, and national recognition and reputation.
#1. Louisiana College
Louisiana College is a private college located in Pineville, Louisiana. Though it’s officially affiliated with the Southern Baptists, students are not required to be Southern Baptist to attend. More than 70 majors, minors, and professional programs are offered. Degrees offered include bachelor’s degrees of:
- social work
Louisiana College boasts myriad notable faculty and alumni, including singer and model Tinka Milinović, NFL player Jeremy Vujnovich, and former quarterback Ben McLaughlin. Louisiana College has an admittance rate of 78%, and an overall retention rate of 63% among full-time students. The average tuition cost is just under $18,000 per year, and 94% of full-time beginning undergraduates have access to and receive some type of financial aid.
#2. Belhaven University
Belhaven University is a private, coeducational, Christian liberal arts institution. The University’s mission statement declares its commitment to prepare “students academically and spiritually to serve Christ Jesus in their careers, in human relationships, and in the world of ideas.” The mission statement continues, “by developing servant leaders who value integrity, compassion, and justice in all aspects of their lives, the University prepares people to serve, not to be served.” Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and School, Belhaven is known for its nationally recognized arts degrees and business school. Nearly 4,500 students are enrolled here, including over 2,700 undergraduates. The student:faculty ratio is 10:1. Belhaven University has an admittance rate of 52%, and an overall retention rate of 67% among full-time students. It is 42% among part-time students. The overall graduation rate is 47%. The average annual tuition for undergrads is $26,202, and 100% of students receive financial aid.
#3. Judson College
Judson College is a private women’s college affiliated with the Alabama Baptist Convention. Judson is known for its stunning campus consisting of a number of notable buildings. These include the Colonial Revival-style Jewett Hall, the campus’s main building, and former Carnegie library A. Howard Bean Hall. Judson is on the smaller side, with about 270 students and 30 academic staff. The college has an admittance rate of 48%, and an overall retention rate of 62% among full-time students. The average annual tuition for undergrads is just under $20,000, and 100% of students receive financial aid.
#4. Harding University
Harding University is a private, coeducational, Christian liberal arts institution located in Searcy, Arkansas. Founded in 1924, the University is “committed to the tradition of the liberal arts and sciences” and serves a “diverse coeducational student body from across the United States and around the world.” More than 10 undergraduate degrees are available in over 100 majors. Fourteen professional programs, and 15 graduate and professional degrees are also offered. Harding University has a total enrollment of more than 5,000, the vast majority of whom are undergraduate students. Harding University admits 75% of applicants and has an overall retention rate of 85% among full-time students (100% among part-time students). The average annual tuition cost of attending Harding University is just over $20,000, and 99% of students receive some type of financial aid.
#5. Trinity University
Trinity University is a private Presbyterian college located in midtown San Antonio. Founded in 1869,Trinity offers 47 majors and 59 minors in:
- liberal arts
- fine arts
A few select graduate programs are also offered. Trinity is noted for the innovation it displays in its curriculum. It was recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the 12th “most innovative” school. The university has a total enrollment figure of approximately 2,600, the vast majority of whom are undergraduate students. Trinity University admits 34% of applicants, and has an overall retention rate of 91%. The average annual tuition cost of attending Trinity University is just over $44,000, and 99% of students receive some type of financial aid.
#6. Mississippi College
Mississippi College is a private, coeducational, comprehensive Christian institution of the liberal arts and sciences and professional studies. Founded in 1826, the College is the second-oldest Baptist-affiliated college in the country, and the oldest college in the state of Mississippi. Mississippi College’s vision is “to be known as a university recognized for academic excellence and commitment to the cause of Christ”. More than 5,000 students are enrolled, including about 3,100 undergraduates. Mississippi College offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs through its seven schools. Mississippi College admits 42% of applicants, and has an overall retention rate of 80% among full-time students. The average cost of yearly tuition is $18,00, and 100% of students receive some type of financial assistance.
#7. Montreat College
Montreat College is a private Christian liberal arts institution located in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Montreat, North Carolina. An interdenominational institution, Montreat’s mission is to be a “Christ-centered, liberal arts institution that educates students through intellectual inquiry, spiritual formation, and preparation for calling and career, all to impact the world for Jesus Christ.” Montreat College has a total enrollment figure of about 1,000, including nearly 800 undergraduate students. The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. It offers a variety of both undergraduate and graduate programs in a broad range of fields. Montreat College admits 56% of applicants, and has an overall retention rate of 60% among full-time students. Average yearly tuition is just under $28,000, and 100% of students receive financial aid.
#8. Southern Wesleyan University
Southern Wesleyan University is a private Christian institution. Established in 1906 by representatives of the Wesleyan Methodist churches in South Carolina and surrounding states, Southern Wesleyan University’s mission is to be a “Christ-centered, student-focused learning community devoted to transforming lives by challenging students to be dedicated scholars and servant-leaders who impact the world for Christ.” Southern Wesleyan University offers more than 40 distinct academic programs. The university has a total enrollment figure of more than 1,600, including about 1,300 undergraduate students. A selective institution, Southern Wesleyan University admits just 35% of applicants, and has an overall retention rate of 68% among full-time students. The average year tuition for attending Southern Wesleyan University is $25,516, and 99% of students receive some form of financial aid.
#9. John Brown University
John Brown University is a private, interdenominational, Christian liberal arts institution located. Established in 1919 by evangelist John E. Brown, the university’s original mottos remain the same to this day: “Christ over all, and Head, Heart and Hand.” John Brown University has a total enrollment figure of more than 2,600, including nearly 2,000 undergraduate students. Forty undergraduate majors and 10 graduate degree programs are offered. These range from accounting and engineering, to media production and ministry. Seventy-six percent of applicants are admitted, and the current retention rate is 80%. The average annual tuition cost is just under $298,000, and 99% of students receive financial aid.
#10. Bryan College
Bryan College is a private Christian liberal arts school. Founded in 1930 as a response to the Scopes “Monkey” Trial of 1925, Bryan aims to “teach truth from a Biblical perspective.” Bryan College offers a variety of adult and graduate studies, as well as an abundance of undergraduate majors in areas such as Christian ministry, the Liberal Arts, and education, among others. The college’s total enrollment is approximately 1,300, the majority of whom are undergraduate students. As a selective institution, Bryan College admits just 51% of applicants, and has an overall retention rate of 67% among full-time students. The average yearly cost to attend Bryan College is $27,900, and 83% of students receive financial aid.
#11. Warner University
Warner University is a private, coeducational, Christian liberal arts institution. Established in 1968, Warner University operates under the mission to “graduate individuals who exemplify academic excellence and Christian character, who are prepared to lead and committed to serve.” It is comprised of three schools:
- the School of Ministry, Arts & Sciences
- the School of Business
- the School of Education
Warner University offers more than 25 liberal arts and professional undergraduate majors as well as three graduate level programs. The university has a total enrollment figure of more than 1,100, the majority of whom are undergraduate students. A selective institution, Warner University admits just 41% of applicants. Warner’s average annual tuition is nearly $23,000, and 100% of students receive some type of financial aid.
#12. Lee University
Lee University is a private Christian liberal arts institution of higher education. Founded in 1928 and historically affiliated with the Church of God, Lee’s mission is to “provide education that integrates biblical truth as revealed in the Holy Scriptures with truth discovered through the study of arts and sciences and in the practice of various professions.” This statement continues, “The foundational purpose of all educational programs at Lee is to develop within the students knowledge, appreciation, understanding, ability, and skills which will prepare them for responsible Christian living in a complex world.” Lee University offers more than 50 undergraduate majors in subjects such as:
It has a total student population of more than 5,300, including more than 4,800 undergraduate students. Lee University admits 82% of applicants has a retention rate of 80%. Average yearly tuition is $18,770, and 98% of students receive some type of financial assistance.
#13. Texas Christian University
Texas Christian University is a top-ranked private Christian university affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Founded in 1873 in Fort Worth, Texas, TCU aims to “educate individuals to think and act as ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community.” Undergraduates have the choice of 117 majors. The two most popular are Business and Journalism/Strategic Communications. About 11,000 students are enrolled at TCU, nearly 10,000 of whom are undergrads. TCU admits 47% of applicants, and has an impressive retention rate of 92%. About 83% of students at TCU receive some sort of financial aid.
#14. Samford University
Samford University is a private Christian school and the 87th oldest university in the United States. According to its mission statement, Samford University aims to “nurture persons in their development of intellect, creativity, faith, and personhood.” The statement continues, “As a Christian university, the community fosters academic, career, and ethical competency while encouraging social and civic responsibility and service to others.” Samford offers 170 undergraduate majors and minors, plus a few graduate degree programs. Eighty-three percent of applicants are accepted into Samford, which costs an average of $33,000 per academic year. One hundred percent of students receive financial aid.
#15. Lipscomb University
Lipscomb University is a private Christian liberal arts institution. Established in 1891, the school was originally called the Nashville Bible School. Today, Lipscomb University’s primary mission is “to integrate Christian Faith and practice with academic excellence. This mission is carried out not only in the classroom but also by involvement in numerous services to the church and larger community.” Lipscomb University offers more than 140 fields of undergraduate study. It also has several pre-professional programs, adult degree programs, and more than two dozen master’s and doctoral degrees. The university has a total enrollment of more than 4,600 students, including nearly 3,000 undergraduates. More than 30 religious preferences are represented in Lipscomb University’s student body, as are nearly all 50 states and 45 foreign nations. Lipscomb University admits just 63% of applicants, and has an overall retention rate of 81%. The average annual cost of attending Lipscomb University is about $33,000. Ninety-seven percent of students at Lipscomb receive financial aid.
#16. Covenant College
Covenant College is a private Christian liberal arts institution. Opened in its current location in 1964, Covenant is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America. Covenant College’s mission is to “explore and express the preeminence of Jesus Christ in all things” and to “educate Christians to engage culture and cultures, to examine and unfold creation, and to pursue biblical justice and mercy in community.” Undergraduate majors vary from the sciences to the humanities to the religious. Just over 1,000 students are enrolled at Covenant, all but a handful of whom are undergraduates. Covenant College admits 98% of applicants and has an overall retention rate of 86%. Impressively, 100% of students receive financial aid.
#17. Liberty University
Liberty University is a private Christian school. Liberty is a well-known, high-ranking institution. It is the fifth largest university in the United States and the largest Christian university in the world. The university’s mission is to develop “Christ-centered men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential to impact the world.” This mission statement continues, declaring that its goal is to educate “men and women who will make important contributions to their workplaces and communities, follow their chosen vocations as callings to glorify God, and fulfill the Great Commission.” A whopping 500 undergraduate and graduate degree programs are available in both traditional classroom settings, as well as in an online format. Nearly 80,000 students are enrolled across all formats, a little more than half of whom are undergrads. Liberty University admits just 51% of applicants, and has an overall retention rate of 82% among full-time students. Ninety-nine percent of Liberty students receive some sort of financial aid.
#18. King University
King University is a private Christian university. It was founded as a college in 1867. It became a university in 2013. Its mission is to “build meaningful lives of achievement and cultural transformation in Christ.” King University offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs. It has a total student population of nearly 3,000, including more than 2,400 undergraduate students. About 62% of applicants are admitted, and the overall retention rate among full-time students is 66%. The average tuition of a year at King University is just over $30,000, and 92% of students receive financial aid.
#19. Palm Beach Atlantic University
If attending a Christian university near the beach in Florida sounds appealing to you, then consider Palm Beach Atlantic University. This private, interdenominational university was founded in 1968. Its mission is to “prepare students for lifelong learning and leadership by offering excellent undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs of study in the Arts, Humanities, Sciences, and selected professions.” The university does this by offering more than 50 programs of study over nine schools. Of Palm Beach Atlantic University’s approximately 3,700 enrolled students, roughly 2,800 are undergraduates. Ninety-five percent of applicants are admitted to study at the university, which has an overall retention rate of 75%. One hundred percent of students receive some sort of financial aid.
#20. Union University
Union Universityis a private evangelical Christian university. Established in 1823, Union University operates with the mission to provide students with a “Christ-centered education that promotes excellence and character development in service to Church and Society.” More than 100 programs of study are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of Union’s approximately 3,200 enrolled students, about 2,200 are undergrads. Union University admits 53% of applicants, and has an overall retention rate of 88% among full-time students. The average annual cost of attending Union University is just under $34,000, and 100% of students receive some sort of financial aid.
#21. University of Mobile
The University of Mobile is a private Christian university affiliated with the Alabama Baptist Convention. Established in 1961, University of Mobile is “intentionally dedicated to Biblically-based Christian culture in heritage, faith, and practice” and is committed to “providing educational programs of the highest quality to its students.” Comprised of several colleges and schools, the university offers a slew of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. At the base of a University of Mobile education is a rigorous liberal arts program of study which teaches students to “think critically and creatively; communicate effectively; embrace intellectual knowledge; and collaborate and lead.” Nearly 1,900 students are enrolled at the university, about 1,700 of whom are undergrads. University of Mobile is more selective, and admits just 46% of applicants. A year’s tuition costs about $24,000, and 96% of students receive financial aid.
#22. Bob Jones University
Bob Jones University is a private, Christian, liberal arts institution of biblical higher education.. Established by evangelist Bob Jones, Sr. in 1927, the university aims to operate “within the cultural and academic soil of liberal arts higher education… to grow Christlike character that is scripturally disciplined, others-serving, God-loving, Christ-proclaiming and focused above.” Bob Jones University offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs, and is comprised of several colleges and schools. About 3,000 students are enrolled, more than 2,600 of whom are undergrads. Bob Jones’s overall retention rate is 82% among full-time students, and 50% among part-time students. The average tuition per year is just over $19,000, and 91% of students receive financial aid.
#23. Trevecca Nazarene University
Trevecca Nazarene University is a private Christian university dedicated to the liberal arts. Established in 1901, Trevecca aims to be “a Christian community providing education for leadership and service.” Trevecca offers 86 bachelor’s degree programs, two associate degree majors, two doctorates, and six certificate programs. Of the university’s approximately 4,000 enrolled students, about 2,300 are undergraduates. Sixty-two percent of applicants are admitted to Trevecca, which has an impressive retention rate of 77%. A year of tuition costs an average of $26,000, and 100% of students receive financial aid.
#24. Erskine College
Erskine College is a private, coeducational, Christian institution located on a rural campus in the historic Abbeville County. Established in 1839, the college is affiliated with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Erskine College’s mission is to “glorify God as a Christian academic community where students are equipped to flourish as whole persons for lives of service through the pursuit of undergraduate liberal arts and graduate theological education.” A variety of undergraduate majors are offered, with programs ranging from chemistry to political science, and everything in between. The college has a student population of just under 700, nearly all of whom are undergrads. Erskine admits 70% of applicants, and has an overall retention rate of 54% among full-time students. The average annual cost of attending Erskine College is $36,510, and 100% of students receive financial aid.
#25. Milligan University
Milligan University is a private Christian liberal arts institution located in the mountains of Upper East Tennessee. Established in 1866, the university is affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the a cappella Churches of Christ, and the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ. Milligan’s vision is to be a “premier Christian liberal arts college where Jesus Christ is exalted and excellence in the standard.” It aims to “change lives and shape culture through a commitment to Christian leadership.” Comprised of several schools, Milligan offers more than 100 programs of study. Milligan College admits 99% of applicants, and boasts an overall retention rate of 91%. The average annual cost of attendance is $34,650, and 100% of students receive financial aid.