When most people choose a college, they’re looking for a place that will help them develop and grow. For some, that decision involves only personal and intellectual growth. But for others, spiritual growth is just as important, specifically through the Christian faith.
Fortunately, the United States is full of Christian institutions. In fact, many of the oldest and most respected schools in the country have their roots in religion, as Yale, Harvard, and others were founded to be seminaries that trained Christian ministers.
While some modern schools certainly follow in this tradition, organizing their curriculum around religious principles, others put academics and faith into conversation with one another. These schools feature a robust student ministry, giving students ample opportunities to get together and consider their beliefs.
These schools also have strong community outreach programs. In these programs, students have the opportunity to put their beliefs into action by engaging with neighborhoods both near and abroad.
To be sure, finding the right Christian college for you is a difficult decision. There are many things to consider, such as denomination and social policies, as well as the usual college issues such as faculty and student support.
Based on the rankings from Niche.com’s list of the best Christian colleges, this article lays out the advantages of the top Christian schools in the nation.
10. University of Tulsa (Tulsa, OK)
The top-ranked institution in the state of Oklahoma, the University of Tulsa is a private research university that maintains an association with the Presbyterian Church.
Although U Tulsa offers degrees in every field, including business and the humanities, it’s best known as a STEM-oriented school.
That reputation comes in part from the STEM-focused research and initiatives held by the University.
The Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge pairs students with professors to participate in research while taking advanced courses. Through the challenge, students engage with the community to find ways of making their research real and practical in the lives of others.
The University’s Cyber Corps prepares students for careers in national intelligence. Past participants have gone on to careers in government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and NASA.
The program shows students interested in engineering, physics, and mathematics how to put their abilities into the country’s service.
9. Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
Located in beautiful Malibu, California, Pepperdine University is beloved by students for its tight-knight community. In support of its Christian perspective, Pepperdine encourages fellowship between students and professors, who are known for their passion and accessibility.
Every aspect of Pepperdine’s academic pursuits combines with its Christian values. That combination can be seen in the mission statement for the School of Public Policy. In addition to providing students with an understanding of global concerns and power structures, the School encourages students to apply a moral compass as they become leaders of the future.
It’s that focus that empowers the Sudreau Global Justice Institute within the Caruso School of Law to work with the Ugandan anti-trafficking organization Willow International. With the help of the Institute, Willow advances the cause of justice, sharing knowledge about the nature of human trafficking.
8. Texas Christian University (Fort Worth, TX)
Established as a co-educational college in 1873, Texas Christian University maintains a strong relationship with the Disciples of Christ Christian Church. Today, TCU has established a reputation for excellent research activity and a supportive alumni network. The latter helps students find meaningful careers even long after they’ve graduated.
With 717 full-time faculty members employed by the school, TCU offers an average student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1. These smaller classes allow for extra attention from teachers, bringing out the best in the student body.
The evidence of that quality can be seen in recent achievements by TCU students. The school’s STEM Scholar Program has won recognition from INSIGHT Into Diversity Magazine, which has twice given the program Inspiring Programs in STEM Awards.
The award demonstrates not only the strength of work done by the students but also the diversity of its student body.
7. Trinity University (San Antonio, TX)
What do Tony Award-winning actress Deanna Dunagan, Whole Foods Market co-founder John Mackey, and U.S. Senator John Cornyn have in common? They all graduated from Trinity University.
Since 1869, Trinity University has provided outstanding academic training and religious support to students across the world. Associated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Trinity gives students a first-class liberal arts education from a Christian perspective.
With a research endowment of $1.27 billion, Trinity University engages in impressive initiatives.
From that model, students have engaged in their own projects. Under the supervision of chemistry professor Ryan Davis, students Josefina Hajek-Herrera and Bene Snyder have created the MicroLev, an instrument to assist in studying aerosol particles. The instrument has already won the team $5,000 in seed money and promises to bring in more funding.
6. Brigham Young University (Provo, UT)
The world’s most prestigious Mormon institution, Brigham Young University was established in 1875. Sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young University strives to provide both religious training and a first-class academic experience.
Located in the scenic mountains of Provo, BYU prides itself as a place of intellectual inquiry and moral development.
In particular, BYU is a leader in the study of languages. The Center of Language Studies gives students all of the support they need to acquire language and cultural skills to advance their careers. The Center demonstrates the school’s commitment to helping students be part of a global community.
On the religious end, BYU regularly works to aid its students’ spiritual life. The school’s weekly devotional series brings in speakers to offer their thoughts and encouragement. Past speakers include Second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency Becky Craven, professor of nursing Julie Valentine, and Pembroke College theology lecturer Reverend Dr. Andrew Teal.
5. Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX)
Although it is officially nonsectarian and serves students of all faith traditions, Southern Methodist University in Dallas remains connected to the United Methodist Church.
Designed around a tree-lined loop road dubbed “Bishop Boulevard,” the main SMU campus provides a beautiful and peaceful place for students to strengthen their minds, bodies, and spirits. The campus houses the George W. Bush Presidential Center, which includes the former president’s library and archives.
SMU earns special recognition for its innovations in technology. The school is one of the few in the world to offer both a master of interactive technology degree in digital game development and a professional certificate in digital game development.
In fact, for two consecutive years, Princeton Review has ranked the graduate program #1 in the world for game design.
4. Macalester College (Saint Paul, MN)
A four-year private undergraduate college in association with Presbyterian Church, Macalester College prioritizes multiculturalism and internationalism. Students learn how to be not only excellent in academics, but also engaged members of the global community.
The school is well-regarded for its academic legacy and excellent instruction. Macalester was included in Howard Greene and Matthew Greene’s book The Hidden Ivies, a list of smaller schools that provide an education comparable to those of Ivy League institutions such as Harvard and Yale.
That praise comes alongside high rankings from outlets such as U.S. News & World Report. The respected magazine placed Macalester 27th place among U.S. liberal arts colleges, 24th on the list of most innovative schools, and 30thplace for best value institutions.
As these findings illustrate, Macalester is an excellent choice for anyone who wants a world-class education on a small campus, taught from a Christian perspective.
3. Davidson College (Davidson, NC)
Associated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Davidson College is a private liberal arts college that prides itself on creating well-rounded students. Founded in 1837, the school has a long history of teaching some of the most influential people in the world.
Graduates include Pulitzer-prize-winning poet Charles Wright and mystery writer Patricia Cornwell, as well as political figures U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Deputy White House Counsel Vincent Foster, and former Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.
Among the unique aspects of Davidson is its connections to London’s Royal Shakespeare Company.
Since 2002, the Company has performed enormous times at Davidson, staging classics such as The Merchant of Venice and Julius Caesar. In addition, the company holds educational programs to encourage the next generation of actors.
2. Emory University (Atlanta, GA)
The second-oldest private college in the state of Georgia, Emory University was established by the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1863.
Today, the school has grown to become a tier-one research institution, one of the most respected private schools in the country. With an endowment of $7.64 billion, Emory will continue to develop its reputation, especially in the humanities and in the STEM fields.
Emory continues this work thanks to the research initiatives and centers housed on its campus. Thanks to its partnership with the Emory Healthcare System, the largest such organization in Georgia, the University’s medical school is one of the most comprehensive in the nation.
Additionally, Emory partners with institutions outside of the state to perform innovative work. In collaboration with Nanjing University, Emory operates Atlanta’s Confucius Institute. Thanks to partnerships with the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Emory fosters a community of learning from across the globe.
1. Duke University (Durham, NC)
The top school on this list has its beginnings as a Quaker and Methodist institution founded in 1836. Today, Duke University is one of the most impressive schools globally, renowned for its outstanding faculty, strong research, and religious training.
Alumni from Duke include luminaries in politics, such as former U.S. President Richard Nixon and former U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole, as well as literary figures including William Styron and Anne Tyler, as well Apple CEO Tim Cook and General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner.
Duke’s gorgeous campus in Durham, North Carolina features a cutting-edge medical center and a marine lab for students interested in studying coastal sea life. But for religious students, the main appeal might be Duke University Chapel.
Designed by African American architects Julian Abele and Horace Trumbauer, the Chapel serves as the center of interdenominational Christianity. In addition to welcoming people of all faiths, the Chapel offers numerous community building and spiritual development opportunities.