When people outside of academia ask me where I work, and when they learn that I am at a Christian university, I sometimes get this response: “Oh, you work for a Bible college.” I am always disappointed that all of Christian higher education is painted with a single brush. Bible Colleges serve an important function, but that function is different from a Christian university. This blog post intends to explain the differences between Christian higher education, the Christian university, and Bible Colleges.
Christian higher education works toward many of the same goals as secular higher education. For example, we want to educate the public so that they can achieve their life goals. The difference is that Christian higher education embeds that academic experience, the degree program, in a Christian context. Although secular higher education tends to ignore religion, Christian higher education integrates faith into the curriculum and extra-curricular student activities.
Bible Colleges are a small subset of Christian higher education that serve a specific purpose, preparing students for ministry. With all of that background in mind, here are some crucial differences between Bible Colleges and the Christian university.
Christian universities offer the same degrees as their secular counterparts. These would include traditional Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and pre-professional degrees such as the Bachelor of Social Work or the Bachelor of Business Administration. Bible Colleges generally offer only an Associate degree or Bachelor degree intended for the ministry. Bible Colleges also offer crucial continuing education courses for bi-vocational ministers wanting to forward their education.
Christian universities often offer graduate degrees, such as the Master of Arts or Master of Science, or professional graduate degrees like the Master of Science in Nursing or the Doctor of Physical Therapy. Bible Colleges typically do not offer any graduate degrees because that would be outside of their mission.
Christian universities offer a large set of extra-curricular activities, such as sports, clubs and campus ministries. Bible Colleges vary on the amount and type of student services that they offer. If they cater to bi-vocational ministers who are already in the field, then there is no need to provide the full range of services that characterize a typical university.
People outside of academia also tend to equate all Christian universities with the last unflattering thing that they heard about one in the news media. Christian universities come in a wide variety, and they represent a diverse theological spectrum. It is just as unwise to make assumptions about any particular institution as it is to paint them all with a single brush.
I hope this helps as you consider Christian higher education for your life’s journey.UMHB is the university of choice for Christian higher education in the Southwest. If you are looking for a place to receive an education for life and an experience of a lifetime, UMHB would be a great fit for you! Check out our website for more information, or stop by any time for a campus visit to learn more!