What is the Difference Between A Christian College and a Non-Christian College?

christian vs non christian college

Where to attend college or university is a huge decision for students and parents alike. There are many factors that influence a student’s eventual choice of college, including cost, distance from home, degree programs offered and the social atmosphere of the school. In addition, families need to consider the differences between choosing a Christian college or non-Christian college.   Although there’s a huge variation between Christian colleges, there are a few generalities that can be discussed. Knowing this, let’s look at a few of the ways Christian and non-Christian colleges differ.

Social Atmosphere

Generally speaking, Christian colleges work harder at regulating the morality of their student body. Many colleges require students to sign “lifestyle contracts.” These contracts require the student to abstain from drinking, drug usage and sex while attending classes. Students caught violating the terms of the contract can be brought before a review committee that can administer punishment, which can range from a verbal slap on the wrist to dismissal from the university.

Non-Christian colleges do little to impose moral standards upon students, except in the case of illegal activities such as underage drinking or sexual assault. State schools frown upon certain activities, but as long as it’s legal and the student is over the age of 18, there is little to no action taken against the student. Generally speaking, it’s often easier for students to engage in risky behavior on a non-Christian campus. College administrators don’t see regulating student behavior as important according to this study.

Influence by Professors

Professors have a huge impact upon students. Even in large classrooms, professors have the ability to influence a student’s opinions, thoughts and even self-esteem. A Washington Post article in 2005 claims 72 percent of college professors label themselves as liberal. Non-Christian university professors often deliberately challenge students’ thinking and previously held beliefs.

In contrast, professors at Christian colleges are generally deeply religious and strive to promote spirituality in their students. Professors at small religious schools often take a greater interest in their students and show more concern for molding students’ lives. The smaller class size at Christian colleges can make getting to know a professor much easier and helps students feel more connected in class. The goal of Christian colleges is to grow the entire student – mind, body and spirit – with professors engaging with students to develop their faith in a positive way.


Private Christian schools generally cost more to attend than state sponsored universities. Tuition and fees can be many times more expensive at Christian colleges than at non-Christian ones. However, scholarships, grants and need-based financial aid can be more readily available for students choosing to attend a Christian school. Many private colleges have deep pockets when it comes to alumni or donor-sponsored aid for incoming students. Families need to compare the actual financial aid offers of various schools before assuming a Christian college education is too expensive.


Deciding between attending a Christian or non-Christian university is among the first hurdles potential college students and their families must cross. There are advantages and disadvantages to both and the individuality of the particular student must be taken into account when beginning the college search.

Related Resources: